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Cana Colony summer 2024 retreats are fully booked.

If you wish to be placed on the waiting list, please contact the Cana Registrar,

Cana Colony is a unique Catholic retreat for the whole family.  Families who come to Cana experience the wellspring of God’s love in a simple and relaxed atmosphere surrounded by nature’s own beauty. Each summer, Madonna House offers the opportunity to “come away to a quiet 

place” to grow in faith and support one another in sharing Christ’s life-giving love in the midst of an increasingly secularized world. Cana families are nourished by the daily celebration of the Holy Eucharist, fellowship, recreation and the daily conferences.

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

- Kathy Skipper

Our parents went to Cana 21 times, many of them as a host couple, over a 28-year span. There were only two of us kids the first time, and each of us attended a different number of weeks. As you can imagine, Cana was a big part of our lives. Even today, the sight of an A-frame church or the smell of mosquito repellent takes us back.

- the Shingledeckers Kids

Cana gave us the opportunity to talk with Catherine Doherty and with friendly and loving priests who were at Cana to serve the families. But much more important to us than that, the Eucharist was available every morning. What more could you ask for? Cana was a dream come true.

- Thérèse Régimbal


Cana Colony was born out of Pope Pius XII’s urgent request to Catherine Doherty in 1951 that she do everything in her power to help the most important and basic unit of society: the family. Catherine took the Holy Father’s appeal to heart, and the very next summer, she started Madonna House’s first summer camp for families, giving it the name Cana Colony.

The story of the miracle at Cana (John 2:1-11) reveals the power of Christ’s own divine presence within the context of a wedding feast, fulfilling his promise that: “If two or more are gathered in My name, I am there in the midst of them.” Cana Colony is a “little manifestation of Christ to His people” repeated in the beautiful backwoods of Ontario, Canada


A Madonna House priest, layman, and laywoman are present with the families, and together with the host family couple, help with the day-to-day running of the camp. The Holy Eucharist is celebrated each morning. Madonna House members or the host family couple give a conference to the parents in the afternoon. (During this conference supervision is provided for all the children). Throughout the week the Sacrament of Reconciliation is readily available.

Since daily Mass and the afternoon parents’ conferences are the only scheduled events at Cana, there is a lot of room at Cana for swimming, boating, fishing, hikes, campfires, singsongs, and many other sporting and recreational activities. There is also plenty of time for leisurely meals, games, and engaging conversations with Madonna House members.

The weather is impossible to predict. The days are usually sunny and warm and summer clothing is appropriate. However, we can also get some cool and rainy days at Cana. The nights are often cool, so come prepared. Don’t forget your bathing suits, insect repellent and sunscreen.

Families are given simple chores to help maintain the order and cleanliness of the camp during their stay. This communal contribution is integral to the family atmosphere of Cana and to the building of community.

In order to make this experience available to a larger number of families, we also have a general policy that a family cannot return two years in a row.


Cana Colony is located about two miles outside of Combermere, alongside a beautiful pristine lake in a large clearing surrounded by trees. Situated along the perimeter of the clearing are eight cabins, a large cook shack and a supply shed. Within the clearing there is an expansive area for the children to play, including a sizable sandpit and a swing set. Perched on a small hill overlooking the whole open area is Our Lady of the Lake Chapel.

Cana offers families an experience of simple, rustic living in a beautiful rural setting. Because of this, families are asked to forgo some of the usual comforts and conveniences of a home. The simplicity of the camp is part of the spirit of Cana Colony. It reflects the call to be simple, poor, childlike, as expressed in The Little Mandate of Madonna House.

Our one-room cabins have no electricity and no indoor plumbing. The toilet facilities are all outdoors. The cabins have beds with mattresses and are equipped with water buckets and a basin for washing up. Blankets and pillows are amply provided as well as battery-operated lanterns for use in the cabins. Families are asked to bring their own bed sheets or sleeping bags and pillowcases, towels and facecloths, toilet articles, flashlights, and groceries (some may be purchased in Combermere).

The cook shack is divided into two spacious rooms for cooking and eating. It is a central gathering place for everyone and serves as a cozy place for family recreation on rainy days. The cook shack is the only place that has electricity and running water. Both rooms are equipped with stoves, refrigerators and extra freezer space. There are also tables, dishes, silverware, pots and pans, everything necessary for cooking, cleaning and eating, including highchairs for the little ones. Each family provides their own food and does their own cooking. There is a wood stove to provide warmth on cool mornings.


Applications for reservations are posted on the Madonna House website at the beginning of January.

For more information please contact the Cana Registrar:

For more information please contact the Cana Registrar

Slowly, almost imperceptibly, burdens fall away and our vision of family is renewed.

-Fr. David May, The Heart of Cana


Can I bring friends and others who are not part of my family?

The week is intended to be one of families sharing life together in a Christian community. Because of this, we ask that families not bring “guests” (other relatives, friends of the family, etc.) We have found that the presence of such guests tends to reduce the experience of renewed unity within the family.

Will I be able to visit members of Madonna House who are in Combermere?

We ask families to arrange their visits with staff or friends in the area before they are due to arrive at Cana or when the week is over on the following Saturday afternoon. This safeguards the flow of the retreat atmosphere.

Will I be able to bring my pets?

We ask that you do not take your pets with you for this retreat.

What kinds of activities are available to older teens and young adults?

If they enjoy meeting new friends, swimming, hiking, fishing, etc., they will probably enjoy their stay at Cana Colony. However, if they are more interested in the activities of a city or large town, Cana Colony may not be the best choice for them.

When is the expected arrival time?

All families are asked to arrive on Sunday afternoon between 2 and 4 p.m. This gives everyone time to settle in and be prepared for the Sunday evening orientation meeting at 7:00 p.m. This important meeting with the host couple and the Madonna House team sets the tone for the week and provides needed practical information. The week ends on Saturday morning with the celebration of Holy Mass as the final send-off.

How Much Does It Cost?

There is no set cost for Cana. This is left to the conscience and financial ability of each family. Madonna House believes strongly that no one should stay away because of financial difficulties. We do, however, require a non-refundable deposit with your application, according to your means. This can be done through our donate page. Please add a comment with the format: Last Name – Cana Deposit

I remember my own mother saying to me, “You were given to me by God and to God I must return you.”

– Catherine Doherty