Programs for Visiting Guests

Programs for Visiting Guests

What to Bring With You

Often people ask, “What will I need during my stay?” We hope the following will be helpful.

Work Clothes

We do simple work, often manual. Our women guests often spend much time washing dishes, cleaning, gardening or working in the laundry; our men guests often spend time working on the farm, chopping wood, shoveling snow, or other outdoor or manual tasks. So bring simple, practical, washable clothing.

We have a good laundry, but it takes a few days to return your clothes, so you will need more than one pair of jeans or slacks. (We don’t wear shorts, sweat pants, or tights.) If we wash your clothes in the main laundry, you will need name tags. You can either come with them or order them after you get here. Dry cleaning services are not easily available and they are quite expensive.

During the summer, there is a fair amount of work on the farm, so a pair of sturdy shoes or runners is good. Sandals are not practical on the farm. In the summer, we can swim in the river daily, so you may want to bring a swimsuit.

During the winter, boots are needed as well as indoor shoes. Bring warm winter clothes for both outside and inside.

Sunday Clothes

The Lord’s Day is different from the other six days of the week. We honor it through our liturgy, through what we do, what we eat, and how we dress. Women should bring a dress or nice skirt, or dress slacks for that special day; men should bring a suit or nice pants, jacket and tie. “Spike” heels make holes in our pine floors, and they are not good for walking on our rough, unpaved ground. We ask that you not bring them.


You need to bring with you any medicines you take, as well as your personal toiletries and cosmetics. You do not have to bring bed linens or towels – we supply those. It is a good idea to bring a small knapsack to carry your personal items from the dormitory to other areas, as there are few occasions to return to the dorm during the daytime. Our country plumbing can only handle one shower per week per person. We use outdoor toilets – outhouses – in the daytime, summer and winter.


At Madonna House we eat what the Lord in his goodness provides. Much of our food is grown or produced on our farm. Our diet is mainly grains and vegetables, with some protein from eggs and dairy products.

We are unable to provide special diets.


You need to be in reasonably good health to stay at Madonna House. Our life, though grace-filled, can be challenging and difficult — physically, emotionally, and spiritually. If you have any medical conditions, allergies, or take daily medications, we would appreciate knowing that before you come.

Visitors to Madonna House are responsible for their own medical expenses and medical insurance. If you are not a resident of Canada covered by Canadian medical insurance, you are responsible for purchasing your own insurance before you enter the country.


There are no banking facilities — and no automated teller machines — in Combermere. The closest services are 12 miles away in Barry’s Bay and there are limited opportunities to go there. Therefore it is necessary to bring adequate finances other than credit cards or bank debit cards. Cash, Traveller's Cheques, or the like are more serviceable.

Phone, E-mail, Computers, etc.

In this day and age it is increasingly difficult to find an environment of quiet which allows you to listen to the Lord and to each other. We ask our guests to “unplug” from electronic devices (cell phones, internet, MP3 players, etc.) during your stay. This will help you develop an appreciation for the silence that is needed to develop a mature spiritual life, and healthy interpersonal relationships.

As there is no cell phone service in our area, you may wish to consider purchasing a pre-paid phone card before coming.

There is no access to the Internet or e-mail at Madonna House. You may wish to bring postage stamps if you plan to send postal mail.

What Not to Bring

Our lifestyle is such that we ask you not to bring the following on your visit:


There is no charge for a stay at Madonna House. Whatever your financial state, you are most welcome to come. Anyone may leave a donation according to their means.

We hope this information makes your planning a little easier. Know that we hold you up in prayer before Our Lady of Combermere.


Madonna House - A Training Centre for the Lay Apostolate