Let’s continue our tour with a short drive up the hill to St. Benedict’s Acres, the Madonna House farm. The farm is the primary source of food for the community and features cows, sheep, chickens and vegetables. Catherine claims she desired to have a farm for apostolic reasons as early as her Friendship House Harlem years, from 1938-42.
Her thinking about farming and the restoration of people to Christ through rural living goes back far in her history and deep into her soul. It was clearly influenced by memories of her parent’s estates and the household and farming skills her mother taught her (see her My Russian Yesterdays) along with the thinking of Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin. These, in turn, were influenced by Fr. Vincent McNabb, perhaps the leading “Back to the Land” spokesmen in the early part of the 20th century:
“When one thinks about it, Jesus was born in the countryside and he lived in the countryside most of his life. He wasn’t a farmer, but his Gospel is filled with examples and parables taken from farming and the earth. He talked about vineyards, crops, grain and seeds. He talked about plowing and sowing and harvesting.