Programs for Visiting Guests

Programs for Visiting Guests

Staff Worker Applicants

Each year new applicants for the vocation to Madonna House are accepted. After a period of 6 months to a year as a volunteer at Madonna House in Combermere (or by special arrangements at one of our missions), both the individual and the directors discern the possibility of a vocation. The person is then received officially as an “applicant.” Applicancy lasts for two years. After two years, the applicant takes promises of poverty, chastity, and obedience for one year. These promises are then renewed three times, and ultimately taken for life.

During applicancy, individuals learn our way of life by living in the community while being trained in each department, as well as through an intensified prayer life, spiritual direction, comprehensive studies, and full participation in the life of a staff worker. After first promises, staff are often assigned to one of our field houses to be of service to one another and to their neighbours.

Building a Civilization of Love
An invitation to a life of Gospel fullness!

"Lord, I throw my life at your feet, and sing and sing that I give you such a little thing." - Catherine Doherty (Artwork by Fr. Eric Lies)Who We Are

Lay men, lay women, and priests, united in Christ to form a community of Gospel love and expressing this love in the works of the Apostolate.

We are pilgrims... traveling in poverty to find security only in Christ... journeying in chastity to love and serve Christ in every person... living in obedience to be concerned only with God’s will... totally given to Jesus Christ through Mary... members of the Catholic Church and faithful to its teachings.

Our History

Out of an eventful, often turbulent life, with a boundless love of the poor, Catherine Doherty first founded Friendship House, and then in 1947, Madonna House (with her husband, Eddie Doherty). Combermere, Ontario, Canada is the centre of formation, with field houses throughout the world.

Our Leadership

A Director General is elected from each of the three groups: lay men, women and priests — the three act in unison to guide our family.

Our Formation

Our Apostolic Life

Madonna House welcomes visitors as working guests!

Experience for yourself the fullness of our life — its joys and challenges, which include:


Men and women 19-35 who are willing to fully participate in the life of the community and wanting to love and serve Jesus Christ.


Any time of year, with a minimum stay of one week.


Combermere, Ontario, Canada (via Toronto or Ottawa). Here is a map.


There is no set fee for a visit to Madonna House, but we appreciate any donations our guests are able to offer.

Please Note: Reservations are necessary.

Preparing for Your Visit

Please take time to review the information we have provided for volunteer working guests, as well as our information about what to bring.

How to Contact Us

If you are interested in spending a week or more with us, please write:

Registrar of Men / Women / Priests
Madonna House Apostolate
2888 Dafoe Rd
RR 2
Combermere ON   K0J 1L0

Phone: 613-756-3713

Note: If you send us e-mail, please remember to include your full name and complete postal mailing address.

Thinking of visiting?

Be sure to have a look at the on-line tour of our main house here on our site.

PDF We also have these PDF flyers that you can print:

Travel directions and map

Madonna House - A Training Centre for the Lay Apostolate