Home 'born' in Home 'born' in Calcutta
MADONNA HOUSE is a small community home in the Herefordshire town of Bartestree. It was conceived three years ago in Calcutta by three women who were working at the Home for the Dying run by Mother Teresa and her Missionaries of Charity, although its actual birth did not take place until last September.
Following their experience in Calcutta, Mary Fields and Marian Sheath, both Anglicans, decided with Josie Delorenzo, an American Catholic, to look for a biggish house in the English countryside where a home could be provided for people who needed support. Within a few days of going to Herefordshire, Josie said: "The place found us."
They heard that the Sisters of Our Lady of Charity were looking for someone to use a practically derelict wing of their convent, and had been for several years. They visited it and agreed to take it on.
Between then and the home's opening four months ago they received help from many individuals and organisations, including the Government, a charitable trust called the Carr-Gomm Society and all the local churches.
Madonna House has space for 12 residents, besides the staff. Anyone wanting to live there has to be approved by a local committee made up of representatives from the Churches and one staff member.
The main criterion for acceptance, according to Josie, is that someone must be willing to make a real effort to get along
with the others in the community. "They must be people who want to give a bit and not just to get," she said.
Seven people have so far joined, the youngest a girl aged 20 and the oldest a man of 67. The community includes both men and women of whom some are physically handicapped. All have been referred to Madonna House by individuals or by the social services.
Residents pay 00 a week, which covers everything except lunch (I5p a day extra). Mary and Marion both get 10 a week wages. Josie does not, partly because she could not get a work permit but mainly because there is just not enough money in the kitty.
But she said: "I'm quite happy with that — I think it's fair the other two should be paid as they are English and we are in England."
Eventually the house hopes to be self-sufficient, though this will take time to achieve. Meanwhile it still needs people to give time and money: there is still a lot of work to be done, particularly in the garden, and the community is in debt to the tune of about £1,000.
Josie was inspired to give up her job as a journalist and go to India by reading Malcolm Muggeridge's, "Something Beautiful for God", about Mother Teresa. Working in Calcutta led eventually to Bartestree. Perhaps at some time in the future, Madonna House will produce its own kind of caring offspring.