I Was a Working Guest

by Dan Peloso

I don’t know where I’d be today without Madonna House. My late loving Uncle Peter (a close friend and dentist for many Madonna House members for many years) brought me there in 1971.

Three years later, I went as a working guest for seven months. I had much to offer the community: my weak, lazy body, no prayer life, my emotional baggage, and my long hair.

Catherine Doherty, “the B,” was really beyond my understanding. Who was this lady with a gruff, deep voice who people swarmed around and listened to intently. I found her intimidating and somewhat scary.

I guess it was agreed by the powers that be that I should work with Sherman, a member occasionally called, “The Tank,” and live at the farm to strengthen my feeble body and learn how to work and pray. Not easy but necessary.

“Do little things exceedingly well for the love of God,” I was told. That was part of their spirituality.

Then suddenly I was on crutches for two weeks. I had dived off the dock into the shallow water at Cana Colony.

So instead of heavy farm work, they had me sorting hundreds of nuts, bolts, and screws by thread count.

Needless to say, at first I did not do this well and in my ignorance and lack of understanding of why I was given such a ridiculous job, I thought to myself, “for the love of God, please give me something else to do!”

One of the priests, Fr. Sharkey, walked in just as I had, in my misery, taken my arm and shoved all the nuts, bolts, and screws off the table and onto the floor.

He said, “God is teaching you patience. Just trust.”

The B’s “duty of the moment!” How many times I thought about getting on a bus and going home because so many “moments” were so difficult!

Plus, the members were showing me much love and patience that I felt incapable of reciprocating.

One day, I approached the B and spoke about this incapacity. She responded by saying, “You have to first let God love you, then you can love others. Who is your spiritual director?”

“Fr. Pelton,” I responded.

“Fr. Pelton,” she yelled in a loud voice. “Pelton, where are you?” He suddenly appeared from nowhere and said, “Here I am, B.”

“Go talk to Peloso. He wants to learn how to love.”

Under the arms of Our Lady of Combermere from February to September of 1974, the cornerstone of the foundation of my Catholic faith was properly laid. It was then that my Catholic journey really began.

Thank you, Catherine and Eddie and Madonna House, for teaching me how to listen, pray, work, and serve, and to hope and trust in the goodness and loving care of Our Lord under the mantle of Our Lady.