The Madonna House Apostolate is a Catholic Christian community of lay men, women, and priests, all of whom take lifelong promises of poverty, chastity, and obedience and who are dedicated to loving and serving Jesus Christ in all areas of life. Madonna House was founded in 1947 by Catherine Doherty in Combermere, Ontario  and has established mission houses throughout the world. It is recognized by the Catholic Church as an Association of the Faithful. 
Catherine de Hueck Doherty (1896-1985), foundress of the Madonna House Apostolate, was born in Russia to wealthy, deeply Christian parents. Baptized in the Russian Orthodox faith, she was taught that each person was Christ, and that we were especially called to serve him in the poor.  Prayer was love, expressed through service in all areas of human life. 
Having survived the maelstrom of World War I, the Russian revolution and civil war, Catherine and her husband, Boris de Hueck, were admitted to England as refugees in 1919. While there, Catherine was received into the Catholic Church. In 1920 they immigrated to Toronto, Canada, where Catherine struggled to support her husband and infant son. She eventually regained a level of prosperity but was pursued by an inner call to give away her possessions and to go live with and serve the poor. This call, radical for its time, was blessed by the Bishop of Toronto, Rev. Neil MacNeil. To Catherine’s surprise, other people, drawn by her gospel witness, begged to join her. This was the beginning of Friendship House in Toronto. They begged food and clothing for those in need, and Catherine countered Communist propaganda with the social teachings of the Catholic Church.  
When misunderstandings and calumny forced the closure of Friendship House in 1936,  Catherine moved to Harlem in New York to serve the Afro-Americans. She denounced the way practicing Catholics could deny Christ in their black brothers.  Once again a community formed around her, prospered, and spread to other cities. 
Following the annulment of her marriage,  Catherine’s wed the successful Irish-American newspaper reporter Eddie Doherty, and this union became a source of contention in Friendship House.  Her broader vision of the apostolate was neither understood nor accepted by her coworkers.  ]To avoid further division, and shattered by yet another rejection, Catherine and Eddie withdrew  to the village of Combermere, in Ontario, intending to quietly live out their retirement. But once again, people came to join her, and Bishop Smith of the Pembroke diocese invited her to open a rural apostolate in Combermere.  Madonna House, as the new community was called, became the most fruitful and most lasting of her foundations. 
The young men and women who came, desiring to give their lives to God, were eventually joined by priests, who brought credibility and protection.  At the 1952 Lay Congress in Rome, Cardinal Giovanni Montini (later Pope Paul VI) suggested to Catherine that Madonna House stabilize itself with vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience.  The community voted to take lifelong promises,[xiii] and in 1955 Catherine and Eddie also promised to lead a celibate life.  ] Fourteen years later, Eddie would be ordained a priest in the Melkite rite of the Catholic Church. 
On June 8, 1960, Bishop William Smith approved Madonna House as a Pious Union The first mission house was opened in Whitehorse, Yukon in 1954 at the invitation of Bishop Jean Louis Coudert, followed by missions in Edmonton, Alberta, Winslow, Arizona, and many others. 
Since Catherine’s death in 1985, the community has continued to grow and mature. In 2022, it included approximately 200 members and 16 mission houses in six countries. 
The life of the Madonna House community is that of a Christian family striving to live the gospel in all the little things that make up everyday life,  following the example of the Holy Family in Nazareth. Christ’s command to “love one another as I have loved you” is expressed in service to those one lives with and each person one meets.  Love is the very heart of the Gospel,  and the call to love is considered the root of all apostolic outreach. 
Live-in guests are an important part of the life in Combermere. They are integrated into the family and share the rhythm of prayer and work.  The latter comprises all that is necessary for the maintenance of the community.  According to the foundress, welcoming another into one’s heart is as important as welcoming him or her into one’s home. 
Madonna House life is permeated by prayer expressed in work and in service to others, as well as in liturgical prayer. Members and guests gather for daily Mass and either lauds or vespers.  The rosary is prayed after the evening meal. The call to “preach the Gospel with one’s life” however, transforms every activity, from work, to meals, to sports and other forms of recreation into an expression of love for God and neighbor. 
The community receives no government support and lives entirely on donations. They wear second hand clothing and much of the food is raised on their farm.  The call to poverty, however, is rooted in Catherine Doherty’s belief in the need for Madonna House members to depend completely on God, both materially and interiorly. 
Duty of the moment
This phrase expresses the guiding conviction that the will of God is made known in whatever needs to be done at a given time. “In essence, ordinary, simple work done for the benefit of God and neighbour gives everyone at Madonna House meaning, no matter who you are. Put another way, ordinary work around Madonna House is more than just ordinary work. It’s shot through with love, faith, hope and charity — those things that have always given dignity to humankind." 
A Russian word referring to a unity of heart, mind, and soul that develops in a group when each person is listening to and is surrendered to the Holy Spirit. Catherine considered sobornost a fundamental principle of Christian community and saw in it an answer to the rampant individualism of contemporary society.” 
The call to sobornost is reflected in the very structure of the community. Priests, laymen, and lay women live and move as members of one family. Each of the three branches is governed by a Director General who must be elected unanimously (in sobornost) by that branch, and the three Directors General are also called to move in deep unity. 
This Russian word for “desert,“ in its Madonna House form, and as described in her classic work Poustinia: Encountering God in Silence, Solitude and Prayer, refers to a small, sparsely furnished cabin or room where one typically spends twenty-four hours in prayer and fasting, reading Scripture and listening for God’s word in one’s heart.”  In Combermere some 20 cabins are available to members and guests for this purpose. 
An “apostolic farm,” St. Benedict’s Acres, provides much of the food for the community and teaches members and guests working there to learn to know God in a deeper way as they care for the land for which they are the stewards. 
A monthly non-profit newspaper called Restoration is published 10 times a year. 
Madonna House Publications, a non-profit organization, makes available books by Catherine Doherty and other community members, cards with artwork by community artists, a website and online newsletter “Pass It On.” 
A Cana Colony summer camp welcomes families each year for a week of Christian living, prayer, and reflection. 
In addition to the training centre in Combermere, Ontario, the Madonna House Apostolate includes mission houses established at the invitation of the local bishop.
In Canada, these houses are presently found in Combermere (St Joseph’s Rural Apostolate), Ottawa, Toronto, and Windsor, Ontario; Regina, Saskatchewan; Edmonton, Alberta; Vancouver, British Columbia; and Whitehorse, Yukon.
In the U.S. there are mission houses in Washington, DC; Roanoke, Virginia; Salem Missouri; Alpena, Michigan, and Winslow, Arizona.
International houses are currently located in Carriacou, West Indies; Robin Hood’s Bay, England; Resteigne, Belgium; and Krasnoyarsk, Russia.
The service of each foundation varies according to the needs of the local Church, as agreed upon with the bishop of the given diocese. Houses in Edmonton and Regina serve the homeless through food, clothing and friendship. Many missions are described as “prayer/listening” houses, where people are welcomed for the poustinia or to unburden themselves to a listening heart. 
The bronze statue of Our Lady of Combermere welcomes her children with open arms  on the grounds of Madonna House in Combermere. Sculpted by the artist Frances Rich, it was officially installed and blessed by the Most Rev. William J. Smith, Bishop of Pembroke, on June 8, 1960. 
The Apostolic Movement of Schoenstatt is a Catholic Marian movement founded in Germany in 1914 by Fr Joseph Kentenich, who saw the movement as a means of spiritual renewal for the Catholic Church. The movement is named after the small locality of Schönstatt which is part of the town of Vallendar near Koblenz, in Germany.
Catherine de Hueck Doherty was a Russian Canadian baroness, social worker, Catholic racial justice activist, and founder of Friendship House and the Madonna House Apostolate.
Edward Doherty was an American newspaper reporter, author and Oscar-nominated screenwriter. He is the husband of Catherine de Hueck Doherty, founder of the Madonna House Apostolate, and later ordained a priest in the Melkite Greek Catholic Church.
Mystici corporis Christi is a papal encyclical issued by Pope Pius XII on 29 June 1943 during World War II. It is principally remembered for its statement that the Mystical Body of Christ is the Catholic Church, a claim later repeated by Pius XII in Humani generis (1950) in response to dissension. According to Mystici corporis, to be truly a member of the Mystical Body one must be a member of the Catholic Church. Other Christians who erred in good faith could be unsuspectingly united to the Mystical Body by an unconscious desire and longing.
The Rogationists of the Heart of Jesus is a religious congregation of priests and brothers founded by St. Hannibal Mary Di Francia (1851–1927) on May 16, 1897. The word "rogationist" comes from the Latin rogate which means "pray".
Combermere is a village along the Madawaska River in south-eastern Ontario, Canada. It is part of Township of Madawaska Valley. It is named after Sir Stapleton Cotton, Viscount Combermere (1773-1865).
Joseph Raya was a Lebanese-born Melkite Catholic archbishop, theologian, civil rights advocate.
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Sobornost is a Russian term whose usage is primarily attributed to the 19th-century Slavophile Russian writers Ivan Kireyevsky (1806-1856) and Aleksey Khomyakov (1804-1860). The term expresses the need for co-operation between people at the expense of individualism, on the basis that opposing groups focus on what is common between them. Khomyakov believed that the Western world was progressively losing its unity because it was embracing Aristotle and his defining individualism. Kireyevsky believed that G. W. F. Hegel and Aristotle represented the same ideal of unity.
A Catholic lay association, also referred to as Catholic Congress, is an association of lay Catholics aiming to discuss certain political or social issues from a Catholic perspective.
A hermitage most authentically refers to a place where a hermit lives in seclusion from the world, or a building or settlement where a person or a group of people lived religiously, in seclusion. Particularly as a name or part of the name of properties its meaning is often imprecise, harking to a distant period of local history, components of the building material, or recalling any former sanctuary or holy place. Secondary churches or establishments run from a monastery were often called "hermitages".
St. Catherine of Siena is a Roman Catholic parish in Trumbull, Connecticut, part of the Diocese of Bridgeport.
The Religious Teachers Venerini, are a religious institute in the Catholic Church founded in Italy by Saint Rose Venerini in 1685. They were the pioneers of free public education for girls in Italy. They are commonly called the Venerini Sisters.
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The Franciscan Hospitaller Sisters of the Immaculate Conception are members of a Roman Catholic religious institute of consecrated women, which was founded in Portugal in 1871. They follow the Rule of the Third Order Regular of St. Francis. and, as the term “hospitaller” indicates, focus their ministries on a spirit of medical care. Their charism emphasizes hospitality and service under the model of the Good Samaritan. In this congregation, the postnominal initials used after each Sister's name is "F.H.I.C."
María Concepción of the Nativity and the Perpetual Help of Mary is the religious name of the Reverend Mother Foundress of The Order of Atonement of the Franciscan Minims of the Perpetual Help of Mary (mfPS) which she founded on June 24, 1942, in Zamora, Michoacan, Mexico.
The Russian Religious Renaissance was a period from roughly 1880 -1950 which witnessed a great creative outpouring of Russian philosophy, theology and spirituality. The term is derived from the title of a 1963 book by Nicholas Zernov called, The Russian Religious Renaissance of the Twentieth Century. The renaissance began in the late nineteenth century but was unexpectedly driven out of Russia due to the violent upheavals of the Bolshevik Revolution and early atheistic Communist regimes. This dislocation led to the resettlement of many Russian intelligentsia in Europe and the West where the renaissance reached its full expression. Although often viewed as a development within the Russian Orthodox world, the spiritual ideals of the Russian Religious Renaissance were carried throughout the wider Eastern Orthodox Church and even into the Roman Catholic and Protestant communities.
George Barry Ford was an American Roman Catholic priest, advocate of civil rights, and the chaplain who, along with Fr. Moore, led Thomas Merton to the Roman Catholic Church. He was twice silenced by Cardinal Francis Spellman, and was a close friend of Eleanor Roosevelt and Carlton J. H. Hayes. Dr. Henry P. Van Dusen, then president of Union Theological Seminary next to Corpus Christi, described Father Ford as "the best known and best loved man in the Morningside Heights community".