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Stemming from Catherine Doherty’s love for the priesthood, Vianney House was built to welcome clergy for times of retreat and renewal. Located on Carmel Hill Road, three kilometers from the main house, Vianney House has a scenic view and many trails to walk in the countryside. There is a chapel as well as a small library and kitchen available for your use.
Directed or personal retreats are possible, and may be planned according to personal needs such as a time to spiritually prepare for ordination. You may wish to combine a time of prayer and solitude with participation in the life of the community by joining us in liturgy, meals, manual labor, and other communal activities.



The Madonna House priestly vocation was born when Fr. John T. Callahan, a priest from Rochester, New York asked to join the Madonna House Apostolate five years after Catherine came in 1947. Fr. Callahan became the spiritual director of Catherine Doherty and the first Director General of Priests in Madonna House, positions he held till his death in 1984. “Fr. Cal”, as he was affectionately known, had great gifts of discernment for souls as well as for blessing the various inspirations for the apostolate that Catherine was receiving at the time.

The priests of Madonna House immerse themselves in the life of the community, serving side by side with the lay members. They are called to “clothe the Gospel with one’s own flesh” which requires an immersion in the graces of the Nazareth spirituality; that is, of the hidden and humble ways of The Little Mandate.

Seeking Christ’s gift of holiness, the cleric of the Apostolate commits himself to a life of prayer, which is the “soul of the apostolate,” and intimate communion with his Lord. The Eucharistic Sacrifice is the center of his day as it is for the whole community.


Our first associate priest was Archbishop Joseph Raya. He was a Lebanese-born Melkite Catholic archbishop, theologian, civil rights advocate who was known for his commitment to seeking reconciliation between Christians, Jews and Muslims.

In 1959, the then “Father Joe Raya” visited Madonna House during a summer break from his parish duties in Birmingham, Alabama. He had a dream that led him to make an unusual request: to become an associate priest of Madonna House. Thus began our Associate Clergy program that invites those ordained to be shepherds and ministers in the Church to live The Little Mandate wherever they are.

As Madonna House has grown, many diocesan clergy have become associates, living out the spirit of The Little Mandate in their home dioceses. We now have approximately 100 bishop, priest, and deacon associates coming from all around the world. Many stay in touch with the Madonna House field house in their area and once a year they gather in Combermere for a week-long retreat.

“No one is more relevant than a priest who understands his role as the servant of the Word; as one who can give us God under the form of bread and wine”
Catherine Doherty