Judith Tydings and Edith Difato
Judith Tydings and Edith Difato
1960s Two women in Potomac, Judith Tydings and Edith Difato, undergo religious conversion experiences and become active in the Catholic charismatic movement.

June 7, 1968 Tydings, Difato and friends hold the first meeting of a tiny prayer group that includes charismatic practices.

March 24, 1971 The budding community is formally incorporated in Maryland under the name Potomac Charismatic Community Inc.

1970s The community grows to several hundred members and begins to take on a more formal structure.

1972 The name Mother of God is chosen, reflecting the community's "total obedience to the divine purpose."

Mid-1970s Joseph Difato directs the community toward Montgomery Village, near Gaithersburg, and migration begins.

1974 Joseph Difato, Edith Difato's eldest son, takes a leadership role in the community.

Joseph Difato
Joseph Difato
Joseph Difato and Felicia Burdick at their wedding.

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The Magazine
1981 Mother of God leaders establish a for-profit computer business called Orange Systems, employing community members and operating on "Christian principles."

Late 1981 Mother of God begins publishing a devotional magazine called The Word Among Us that eventually becomes the community's prime cash engine.

1980s The influx into Gaithersburg continues, and the community peaks at perhaps 1,200 members.

Late 1980s Privately, several people begin to question the way Mother of God operates.

Early 1993 The Archdiocese of Washington grants temporary recognition of Mother of God but lays out conditions for final approval, including a change of leadership.

Early 1994 The archdiocese undertakes an in-depth review of Mother of God's structure and operations.

Mid-1994 The nun leading the archdiocese's review of Mother of God invites people to meet with her. Many express reservations about the community's practices.

Late 1994 At Joseph Difato's request, other Orange Systems owners agree to pay $1.3 million to buy out his share of the company.

May 21, 1995 The dissent spills into the open when one of Mother of God's founders, Judith Tydings, reads a critical letter aloud in a prayer meeting.

Sept. 23, 1995 Cardinal James Hickey visits the community, outlines problems, asks the Difatos to step down and insists on reform.

Feb. 1, 1996 The Difato family formally leaves Mother of God after winning promises that they will be protected against lawsuits and that financial records will be sealed.

Feb. 14, 1997 The Mother of God community, much smaller and operating under new procedures and democratic leadership, wins formal approval from the Archdiocese of Washington.

Cardinal James Hickey
Cardinal James Hickey

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