Catherine de Hueck Doherty (1896-1985), a Russian-born aristocrat who has recently been proposed for canonization, emigrated to North America, dedicated her life to promoting "the gospel without compromise." Her vision combined a deep spirituality with a commitment to social justice. One of her early projects was the Harlem-based Friendship House, which attracted a young Thomas Merton. Later, with her second husband, Eddie Doherty, she established Madonna House in Combermere, Ontario. Though Roman Catholic, Catherine drew on her Russian roots and helped popularize the concept of Poustinia (the Russian word for desert)a place where a person meets God through solitude, prayer, and fasting. These writings, drawn from 25 books, highlight her distinctive spirituality, with its emphasis on the presence of God, the practice of prayer, a love for the church, and a deep apprehension of the social dimension of the gospel.
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