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