Posted February 12, 2015 in MH Washington DC:
Notes From Near and Far: Washington

by Beth Holmes.

Ellie Pettersen and I are both new here, and when we arrived, the local director, Cynthia Donnelly, told us that this was a fairly quiet house. Well, you could have fooled us!

There certainly are quiet days, but otherwise things can get busy. For example, I would say that since we’ve been here, we’ve averaged at least one person per week coming to make a poustinia. And they don’t always come one at a time; some weekends there are two or three praying upstairs.

Plus a number of groups meet in our basement meeting room: the Capitol Hill Pregnancy Center, for example—a Christian organization that works with women who have had abortions. At the end of their series of meetings, they had a service in our chapel, and the following week a farewell supper, from which we heard lots of laughter. They do a wonderful, hidden work.

Once a month, the Restoration Ministry for women who were rescued from being trafficked, meets here as does the parish RCIA (which prepares people to enter the Church). I gave a presentation on Our Lady to this group one night and in the process, I learned how to do a Power Point presentation.

And Sunday mornings after 10:30 Mass, two young Sisters use our basement to prepare children for their First Communion—lovely young women in blue and grey habits.

Once a month, a priests’ support group, Jesu Caritas, meets for an hour of adoration, then an hour of visiting, before going out for supper together.

For all these gatherings, we set up and clean up.

Then there are our visitors, of whom we’ve had a number recently.

Perhaps our most interesting one was Miriam Laxmann, a friend of a friend of MH Belgium, a Slovakian who works for the European Union in Brussels. She stayed with us while coordinating a three-day conference for a new group called the Transatlantic Christian Council. This was only their second gathering, and the first in the U.S.

This conference was a coming together of various Christian groups from both sides of the Atlantic who are working for religious freedom throughout the world. They figure that by working together they will have a stronger voice.

At Miriam’s invitation, I was able to attend some of the sessions. The people there were from many different countries. Theirs was a world we do not usually enter, and it was fascinating and eye-opening.

Just listening to Miriam, we realized how our sources of information are mainly American. She has a wider vision which was great to experience.

Along this line, Fergus O’Beara, Miriam’s and our friend, who also works for the EU in Brussels, was in town later on and came by for brunch. What a remarkable and dedicated Catholic man! He is full of zeal for the various projects to keep the Christian perspective as an influence on public policy.

As he says, we need to use the effective tactics of the other side, while at the same time always being charitable toward them. His visit was another experience of exposure to a broader world view.

Every week, we attend a book club, which is currently reading and discussing Willa Cather’s Death Comes for the Archbishop; a class on the letter of St. James, and a discussion group on Fr. James Martin’s book Jesus, a Pilgrimage. Each of these has a different slant, and it’s all good for our minds and souls.

Well, as one newscaster puts it these are the news from Capitol Hill. But in this case it’s Madonna House news rather than U.S. national news.


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