History of the Hadley Community

Our History

Discover how our roots have grown, and the vibrant tapestry of community spirit that defines our journey

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?

1955
1955

The Start of Hadley's Journey

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 Hadley's also inaugurated half-way houses for the rehabilitation of alcoholics.

1964-1974
1964-1974

Resilience & Revival

Due to failing health and financial reasons, the Hadley's had to discontinue their good works in 1964. Ten years later, Nazareth House, the name bestowed by the Hadley's 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.

1982
1982

Nazareth House

In 1979, Nazareth House relocated to the West Central district of Montreal, its current and enduring home. In the vicinity of Seymour Avenue, elderly individuals from diverse nationalities received ongoing support while residing in apartments. These residents came together for communal meals and various services, actively contributing to the formation and enrichment of the Nazareth Community.

November 1st, 1986
November 1st, 1986

Our Journey Continues

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

Father John Walsh

"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."

1998
1998

Father John Annual Celebrity Golf Tournament

"One day Dick Shea, the President 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

Building Our Community

"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

April, 2006
April, 2006

Navigating Change

"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

December, 2006
December, 2006

Honoring Father John

Father John passed away in 2020, 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.

2011
2011

Passing the Torch

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.

2015
2015

Anne's House

In 2014, a board meeting took place with Sheila Woodhouse, the Executive Director of Nazareth House, and Robin Burns among the attendees. During the meeting, Robin Burns proposed the idea of establishing a residence for women. One year later, in 2015, Anne's House was inaugurated, providing a haven for women grappling with mental health challenges, addiction, and homelessness. The residence is dedicated to Anne Burns, Robin's sister, a nurse who faced her own battles with mental health issues.

2023
2023

New Brand, Same Mission

Nazareth's compassionate roots now blossom in the Hadley Community, symbolizing a harmonious union of tradition and progress. Join us in weaving the tapestry of history into a contemporary narrative, as the Hadley Community embraces innovation while staying rooted in the spirit that has defined the organization for decades.

"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."

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