Catherine Doherty, Servant of God

Catherine Doherty Today, December 14, is the 21st anniversary of the death of Catherine Doherty. Who is Catherine Doherty, you may ask? The Wikipedia article on her begins:

Servant of God Catherine Doherty (August 15, 1896–December 14, 1985) was a social activist and foundress of the Madonna House Apostolate. A pioneer of social justice and a renowned national speaker, Catherine was also a prolific writer of hundreds of articles, best-selling author of dozens of books, and a dedicated wife and mother. Her cause for canonization as a saint is under consideration by the Catholic Church.

Born in Russia, she and her family were nearly killed during the Russian Revolution. A website dedicated to her cause for canonization explains its impact on her:

The Revolution marked Catherine for life. She saw it as the tragic consequence of a Christian society’s failure to incarnate its faith. All her life she cried out against the hypocrisy of those who professed to follow Christ, while failing to serve him in others.

Friendship House After fleeing Russia, Catherine went first to England, and then to Canada. In the early 1930s, she founded Friendship House in Toronto, the major goals of which were service to the poor and working for interracial justice. As the movement spread, new Friendship Houses opened in Canada (in Ottawa and Hamilton), and others in the US: in New York (Harlem), Chicago, Washington DC, Portland, OR, and Shreveport, LA. I have a couple of elderly friends — I met them through the Chicago Area G. K. Chesterton Society — who lived at the Chicago Friendship House during its early years, and who knew Catherine personally. They have often talked about how logical of a step it was for them to go from being active in the struggle for interracial justice and the civil rights movement to being involved in the pro-life movement. Although I never had the privilege of meeting Catherine Doherty myself, I suppose having friends who personally knew her is the next best thing. We all owe her a debt of gratitude for all she did to spread the love of Jesus Christ to all people.

  • A list of Catherine Doherty’s writings and talks is available here.
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