Thank You, God, for 75 Years

On May 17, we will celebrate the 75th anniversary of Madonna House Combermere, and we have decided to celebrate for the whole year. Depending on what happens with COVID regulations, we are planning events to which we hope to invite you. We are also planning to include some anniversary-related articles—usually not whole issues—in this newspaper for a full year.

Why celebrate for so long, why perhaps even celebrate at all, at a time when there is so much suffering and when the very foundations of the world as we know it seem to be crumbling?

We would reply that it is especially at such a time that we need celebrations, that we need to remember, that we need to be grateful.

When I was a young staff worker struggling to trust God, my spiritual director told me to call to mind the times in the past when God had come through for me.

Yes, God has come through for me over and over throughout the years, and it certainly helps me to trust him when I remember those times and praise and thank Him for them.

If this is true for me and for each individual person, it is true also of communities. Through the “yeses” to God, one yes at a time, of Catherine Doherty and her husband Eddie, and of the pioneering staff, God created Madonna House. And through all of us members and our benefactors and friends, he created its works and sustained them.

In Restoration over the years, we’ve told you about the many works of this small, hidden, but multi-faceted apostolate. Catherine used to say that nothing is foreign to the apostolate except sin. So perhaps it shouldn’t be surprising that, though we are small, these facets are many.

A farm, antiques and collectibles, a gift shop, a pioneer museum, a family retreat/vacation apostolate, a publishing company, a newspaper, a second-hand book shop, handicrafts, art, music, drama, mission houses in the United States, Canada, the Caribbean, England, Belgium, Russia, and, in the past, other countries, as well.

Then there are the facets of the spirituality of Catherine Doherty which have profoundly influenced people throughout the world: poustinia, sobornost, a vision of priesthood, striving toward the unity of Eastern and Western Christianity, community of love, the incarnation of the Gospel in ordinary life, social justice, direct love and service to the poor (not only the materially poor).

These are only some of the areas in which we have worked over the years.

Besides and through these many facets of this apostolate, through our trying to love and serve every person we meet, God has graced those who are part of Madonna House in one way or another—sometimes even someone who only read one of our books or met one of us just once.

Are these not reasons for gratitude, for celebration, for praising God? Are all these works of God not reasons for trust that he will continue to come through not only for Madonna House but for all of God’s people?

Most of the graces people receive through Madonna House we don’t know about, but a few we do. Here and there, God gives us glimpses.

Over the years, we have shared some of these glimpses with you. We will continue to do so. We’ve told you many stories; we’ll be telling you more. All are reminders of how trustworthy God is and how very, very much we have to be grateful for.

For this 75th anniversary issue of the paper, I asked my brothers and sisters in this community to write about some of the things in Madonna House for which they are grateful. Much of the material in this issue is a fruit of their response.

What else will we be sharing with you about 75 years of God’s work in our apostolate? Which of the various facets mentioned will we write about? What of our spirituality will we share? Which people will you read about?

We don’t know yet. In deciding what to put in this newspaper, we listen for God’s promptings. As Pope Francis urges all of us over and over, we try to be open to the surprises of the Holy Spirit.

And we pray that through every issue of this newspaper, whatever we end up sharing with you, God will bring you grace.

Paulette Curran