Catherine de Hueck Doherty (1896-1985) is widely remembered today for her commitment to social justice, especially on behalf of immigrants and those marginalized by race and ethnicity in Canada and the United States. Catherine de Hueck Doherty’s cause for canonization is under consideration by the Catholic Church. She has been given the title “Servant of God.”
Madonna House is an important dimension of her lasting legacy. The mission of Madonna House is eloquently described on the community’s website: “The Madonna House Apostolate is a family of Christian lay men and women, and priests, striving to incarnate the teachings of Jesus Christ by forming a community of love.” The movement is rooted in contemplation and service.
Prayer was the foundation of Catherine de Hueck’s ministry. She spoke and wrote widely about the essential connection of prayer and service. In her book Soul of my Soul: Reflections from a Life of Prayer, Catherine de Hueck described service as quiet, personalistic, and intentional.
I see quiet service being rendered by one person to another in great simplicity. It isn’t a frantic thing, where people rush to the ghettos to become social workers, or leave their ministries to become psychologists. No, it is a quiet service, person to person, and that is what Christ desired (88).
She advocated for deep listening to other people as a type of service. Such encounters are a worthy imitation of Christ that can take place in everyday life.
His life was spent in prayer and service, and so must ours be. We must not only love our neighbor; we must take the time to listen to her, to have a personal relationship with her. This is possible for everyone, wherever you live. In high-rise apartment buildings, in private homes and condominiums, you can reach out to your neighbors (88).
Prayer and action for justice, together, were essential in Catherine de Hueck’s work for economic and racial justice spanning five decades. She stands out as an exemplar of Catholic social teaching in practice because she so thoroughly integrated these two dimensions of the tradition in her own ministry.
See: The Madonna House website for information on Catherine de Hueck Doherty and the mission and ministry of the community. http://www.madonnahouse.org/index.html
See: Catherine de Hueck Doherty, Soul of my Soul: Reflections from a Life of Prayer (Notre Dame, IN: Ave Maria press, 1985).
Submitted by: N. Rademacher, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Religious Studies