There are many organizations in the health care industry, but Guest House is special because we are a health care ministry. We are a “hospital and hospice, a haven and sanctuary.” Our culture sets us apart from others. We were founded by a layman, Austin Ripley, who deeply valued recovery and clergy and religious. It was his desire for Guest House to be a work of charity supported by the laity – and that is exactly what we are.

Understanding the varying challenges addiction presents, Ripley learned the needs of the consecrated and ordained are particularly unique. He grew to feel strongly that these men (and women) must be provided with a spiritual setting where their dignity would remain intact and where they would be “treated as priceless in the eyes of God.” They needed something different from the traditional treatment facility in the health care industry.

Ripley opened Guest House in 1956, and established its guiding principles in clear language. He wished for Guest House to be a ministry where staff revealed their souls in their service. He urged, “Charity shall be dispensed with open-handed delicacy so that the sensibilities of clients never shall be offended.” He cautioned, “No one at Guest House shall counsel another in sobriety, or anything else, unless it is done in humility and love.”

Guest House clients and graduates share how the staff is friendly and personable, compassionate and knowledgeable, non-judgmental and caring. One of Ripley’s guiding principles drives this approach: “Everyone serving at Guest House shall be guided by our Lord’s command to St. Catherine of Siena, ‘You should all have compassion on each other and leave judgment to Me.’” Helping the clients find recovery and wellness has always been the impetus for the care offered at Guest House.

Men’s Treatment Center Chapel – one of four chapels at Guest House


It is not important the condition our clients are in when they arrive but rather how we can best address their concerns that is critical. Ripley emphasized, It is our privilege to comfort them wisely and treat them effectively so that they may return to the world joyful in their high vocation.” The thorough spiritual, physical, psychological and psychosocial assessments during the two-week evaluation period guide the recommendation for treatment. When treatment at Guest House is recommended, the assessments are the basis of the individualized and specific treatment plan that is established for each client. The goal is always quality recovery, overall wellness and return to ministry.

Guest House is proud to be a lay-run ministry, and we feel blessed and protected by God in the ministry we provide. All who serve at Guest House hold clergy and religious in high regard and have “great hope for their recovery and high faith in the healing power of God.” Though a staff of largely lay people, “we who serve clergy and religious in charity and humility can serve them in neither unless we serve them in prayer … We dedicate ourselves to pray for clergy and religious who suffer from addiction and pray that they may recover and pray for us. Also we pray for each other and for the success of this ministry.”

While being lay-run, the staff at Guest House is well-versed in working with leadership and communities in the Catholic Church. Education and dialogue are offered to assist dioceses, communities and parishes in walking with their brother or sister on the recovery journey. Continuing care is offered to graduates of the program in order to reinforce and strengthen their resolve and intention. Again, the return to ministry is part of the ultimate goal, and Guest House is always available to provide support at any segment of the journey.

Guest House has an evaluation and treatment program for men and for women. We welcome contacts of inquiry and requests for intervention assistance. A request for evaluation may or may not result in treatment, but its purpose is to gather information, impart awareness and develop a comfort level with the process. Please feel welcome to contact us at any time with your questions or concerns:
Jeff Henrich, President and CEO, jhenrich@guesthouse.org, 248-393-8913
Mary Ellen Merrick, IHM, Executive Director, memerrick@guesthouse.org, 248-391-3100

As we continue to serve our brothers and sisters, may we be mindful that God is working through us and may these words from Isaiah provide some light: “The Almighty Lord will teach me what to say that I might know how to answer the weary a word that will waken them.” May God continue to bless the ministry of Guest House.

Saint Raphael is the patron saint of Guest House. The word Raphael means “Physician of God.” This translation of the name is the one God Himself revealed. Raphael’s name also means “God heals.” Raphael is the Archangel of God’s mercy and light, who comes to bring healing to many. God gave to Saint Raphael a mandate to cure the bodily, mental and spiritual afflictions of men, and so we invite you to join us in prayer to Saint Raphael for the healing of our clergy and religious in their times of need and to pray that we, also, lead lives filled with God’s mercy and light:

 “Prayer to Saint Raphael, Angel of the Sick” — From the Divine Office
May the Angel Raphael, physician in care of our health, come down from heaven to cure all who are sick and to solve the difficult problems of life … Be with us, O Archangel, called the Medicine of God; drive away diseases of the body and bring good health to our minds.

“Prayer to Saint Raphael, Patron Saint of Guest House” –From the Roman Missal
O God, You sent the blessed Archangel Raphael to accompany your servant Tobias on his journey. Grant that we, your servants, may also guarded by him always and strengthened by his assistance. We ask this through Christ, Our Lord. Amen.

Written by Guest House Staff Writer
Austin Ripley quotes and references in this piece are taken from “The Philosophy of Guest House.”