Madonna House

Cana Memories

by Kathy Skipper

Our family went to Cana Colony for the first time in 1978, and we were privileged to be host family* four times after that.

We were from the suburbs, and our first night was a memorable one.

After we went to bed, the sound of the silence was deafening. Then our children—three of them at the time—heard chipmunks on the roof and thought they were bears. Later on, they heard the howling of dogs in the distance, and they were sure wolves were out there ready to attack.

Each week had its own unique quality. We had many laughs and shed many tears as we saw and experienced the Lord ministering to people as individuals, as families, and as a community of strangers he had brought together.

There were always surprises, like the evening the great monster came out of Bennett Lake. The older kids had been planning all week, and they pulled it off convincing not only the younger children but the parents as well.

Then there were the boat excursions across the lake to hike up the “mountain.” (It was really a tall hill.) In 1980 we had a glorious Mass on top of it, and during that Mass, God graced me with feeling within me the new life of our fifth child.

Then there were the bee stings, cuts, and bruises that were cared for by a multitude of caregivers.

The liturgies were the highlight of each day, and the parent times and sharing with the priest were wonderful as well. There were prayers for and with one another, and the priest, who was with us all week, was also a gift.

We were blessed in meeting Catherine Doherty. She certainly was powerful, loving, humorous, and so honest.

The children had great times fishing, playing in the sand, and putting on plays and other kinds of shows. They never complained about the absence of the TV or radio.

At night the sky was ablaze with stars, and many nights we lay on blankets trying to name the constellations. One year there was a youngster who knew so much about them, and he held us all captivated.

No one wanted the week to end, and children and parents alike shed tears when we hugged our new friends good-bye.

It was at Cana that we learned the truth that loving God, living a simple life, and caring for one another is the way to find peace. This was the beginning of our relationship with Madonna House and of a new way of living for our family.

There, too, I, a convert to Catholicism, discovered the love of the Blessed Mother, who knows love, self-sacrifice, and suffering. She has been my strength and has brought me to her Son in ways I never would have imagined.

These graces continue with me to this day. I am truly grateful for that little spot on Bennett Lake that brings God to families in such little, ordinary ways.

* The team responsible for a week at Cana Colony consists of a host family and three Madonna House staff (one layman, one woman, and one priest).