History of Nazareth

Established in 1974 By Dennis Hadley and his wife, Lucille Hadley.

Whenever I dream of importance or even power, I am let down gently by the warming thought of Nazareth. No money, no power, not even genius. Simply the life of a human, of a family fully engaged in human activities, simple things shared by all humans. An amazing mystery, isn’t it?

Sister Cote, employee of Nazareth for 33 years

November 21 1986

Dennis Hadley (Center) eats dinner with the people who use his services. He chats with Fred (Left) and Richard (Right)

The name Nazareth House ensues from a spirituality of the hidden life of Jesus, his life in Nazareth and recognizing that God is a hidden God, and that Jesus is hidden in God, so God is to be found in the lives of the women and men who suffer from the hidden lives of mental illness.

Father John Walsh, CEO of Nazareth Community

Dennis Hadley & Nazareth Community

How it all started…

Born in Canberbury, England, Dennis Hadley emigrated to Canada in 1954 where he had become a Roman Catholic. He was married and had one daughter and two grandchildren. During the first years of their marriage, Dennis and Lucille Hadley chose to live among the poor in the Griffintown area of Montreal. They cared for about 300 families and, with the help of their friends and students, served a meal to the homeless on weekends. The Hadleys also inaugurated half-way houses for the rehabilitation of alcoholics.

Due to failing health and financial reasons, the Hadleys had to discontinue their good works in 1964. Ten years later, Nazareth House, the name bestowed by the Hadleys on their work, was re-established on Saint Paul Street and its first activity was to provide a decent funeral for a man who had died alone and abandoned. Burying the abandoned dead would always remain a top priority at Nazareth House.

In 1982, Nazareth House moved to the West Central quarter of Montreal (where it remains today), and elderly men and women of all nationalities continued to be helped while living in apartments around Seymour Avenue where Nazareth House is now located. They gather for meals and other services and all share in building what is known as the Nazareth Community.

In line with Vatican II, which urges all Christians to work together, Nazareth House has become interdominational.

– L’Eglise de Montreal, August 23 1990

Sister Cote, employee of Nazareth for 33 years Deceased August 2006

“I made the bricks, but she was the cement that held them together and between us we built a house called “Nazareth”

– Dennis Hadley

“Life at the house has changed a little. The hospice for the elderly has not received any new residents and at the moment John, at 92 years old, is the only resident. I find it hard to believe that there is a shortage of elderly persons who require assisted living, but it seems to be that way. We should consider closing the house, but John has been with us for 20 years and we feel we have an obligation to him and moving him to another establishment may well be detrimental to his health”

Dennis Hadley, April 24 2006

John passed away in December 2006, leaving Nazareth empty. It was then that Dennis and his wife decided to abandon the original concept and enter a new stage in the development.

“Dennis Hadley founded Nazareth House. Dorothy Day had always said that those who help the poor have to live with the poor. Dennis and his wife Lucille did just that, they lived with those who made Nazareth House their home. There are no we/they distinctions to be made”

-Father John Walsh, CEO of Nazareth Community

Father John Annual Celebrity Golf Tournament

Began in 1998 by Father John Walsh and Richard Shea

One day Dick Shea, the Presi-dent of the Board of Nazareth House and myself were having lunch. Dick asked me if I could help raise maybe five hundred to a thousand dollars to help the House through a difficult time. Facetiously I chirped in, “Sure! Let’s have the Father John Walsh Celebrity Golf Tournament. Dick and I left the restaurant. Two days later Dick called me and he thought the idea of a golf tournament was a great idea. We went to see Peter Lafleur at the Lafleur Golf Course in Kahnawake and he had a day available for the Tournament. We needed a celebrity and so I phoned Pierre McGuire, a confrère at CJAD, and he accepted without hesitation. This year (2019), we will be holding the 21st Father John Walsh Celebrity Golf Tournament. The tournament that began as a lark has raised $600,000 in support of the residents at Nazareth House. Dreams do come true.

– Father John Walsh

New Management

In 2011, after a long and difficult search, Nazareth Community welcomed their new Executive Director, Sheila Woodhouse (left). She remains the Executive Director to this day.

Anne’s House

In 2014, a board meeting was held. Of the members present was Sheila Woodhouse, Executive Director of Nazareth House and Robin Burns. Robin Burns mentioned to the board that Nazareth should open a residence for women. One year later, in 2015, Anne’s House opened its doors to women who struggle with mental health issues, addiction and homelessness. Anne’s House is named after Anne Burns, the sister of Robin, a nurse who also struggled with mental health issues.

“Nazareth House in so many ways is the discovery of the hidden lives of our residents. People with mental illness are often shunted aside as if they are no longer alive. They live hidden lives in isolation, withdrawing from the world, and at Nazareth House they are offered lives that again have meaning and acceptance”

Father John Walsh, CEO of Nazareth Community