P A R T  O N E 
The Believers Next Door

By Justin Gillis       The Washington Post Magazine

Edith Difato
Overview: Rise and Fall of a Religious Community
Adherents flocked from around the world to an unusual religious community in a Washington suburb. Years later the group fell apart.

Origins: Warmth and Harmony Drew People In
Folks were drawn by hunger to know God and by a desire to form a true community, sharing news, prayers and cups of sugar over the back fence.

Rules: Fitting Into the Hierarchy
The group collected detailed personal information on members and formed elaborate rules governing their emotional lives.

Church: The Role of the Catholic Church
The Catholic Church was part of Mother of God's fabric, yet priests say they didn't report problems they saw to church leaders.

Doubts: The Questions Begin to Surface
Members say they were pressured to keep doubts to themselves, yet in their hearts many began to question the community's rules.

 P A R T  T W O 
Paradise Lost

By Justin Gillis       The Washington Post Magazine

Edith Difato
Investigation: The Church Takes a Closer Look
Community problems come to light during an investigation by the archdiocese.

Reorganization: The Climax of the Struggle
Cardinal Hickey asks the Difatos to step down and requests reforms in the community.

Division: People Are Forced to Choose Sides
Hickey's intervention forces people to decide whether they are defenders or critics of the old regime.

Supplemental Information Only Available Online:

Mother of God Timeline

The Members: In Their Own Words


Cardinal Hickey's speech | Community Covenant
Information Gathering | The Buddy Report

On the Web
The Mother of God community still exists, in smaller form, and now operates under the supervision of the Archdiocese of Washington. The community has a Web site.

Offer your own thoughts about Mother of God or related issues in our online discussion area.

Send your comments to Washington Post staff writer Justin Gillis: gillisj@washpost.com