Our Mission is to provide the information, education, treatment and care needed to assure that Catholic clergy, men and women religious, and seminarians suffering from alcoholism, addictions and other behavioral health conditions have the best opportunity for quality recovery and overall health and wellness. Guest House has been serving the Catholic Church for over 60 years, since 1956.
Guest House, Inc., included in the Official Catholic Directory, is a 501(c)(3) non-profit, licensed and CARF accredited health care provider and specializes in addiction treatment for Catholic clergy and men and women religious. We are governed by a Board of Trustees, comprised of 17 individuals including lay people and religious from throughout the United States, and we rely on philanthropy from individuals, organizations, corporations and foundations to carry out our ministry.
Our campus includes two gender-specific residential treatment centers on 105 tranquil acres, offering holistic programs based on the spirituality of the twelve-step recovery model and addressing substance use disorders, process addictions and compulsive overeating. Guest House is staffed by dedicated, licensed, certified, on-site clinical and spiritual professionals. We augment residential treatment with strong aftercare support programs and educational workshops. Successful long-term abstinence rates remain at the top of the recovery industry.
Click here to read Our Story
Guest House Hands Logo
The “hands” of Guest House offer special meaning. These graphic symbols of Guest House, dating back to the early 1980’s for men and early 1990’s for women, were created to portray the agony of alcoholism and the exaltation of recovery. Upon reflection, one sees the lonely desolation of the clergy and religious with addictive issues, with head in hands, as they enter treatment – virtually defeated in mind, body and spirit. Then, renewed in sobriety, the men’s graphic symbolizes how they offer the “Chalice of Salvation” in gratitude and joy; the eternal offering shines through as the symbol of their commitment to God and the sign of renewal to all people. In the women’s graphic, the “Cross” symbolizes hope in the Resurrection; the joy of moving on to new life.
Guest House Founder
Guest House owes its existence to the inspiration and dedication of one man, founder Austin Ripley who was always known as “Rip.” He was born in Washington, D.C., in 1896 and passed away at his home near Colfax, Wisconsin, in 1974. He achieved considerable celebrity as a writer in the 1930s and 40s (“Minute Mystery” series and “Photo Crimes” Column), even while sliding into alcoholism and despair. He joined Alcoholics Anonymous in 1942 when that fellowship was still small and embraced its principles with an enthusiasm that never wavered. A chance meeting with a priest in a bar led him to discover that priests were joining AA but failing to achieve sobriety. Because the AA program was working so well for others, Rip made a special effort to find ways of helping priests.
Convinced that priests needed extended treatment in a warm, spiritual environment with considerable support from peers, he developed a plan for this special program and launched a campaign to raise funds and win support from the Catholic hierarchy. Although he made a succession of contacts with influential persons and usually came away with promises of support, there was rarely money to back up the agreements.
Rip’s great breakthrough came in 1955 when Cardinal Mooney of Detroit gave him official backing as well as funds for the purchase of the Scripps Mansion in Lake Orion. For the next 16 years, Austin Ripley headed Guest House, where hundreds of alcoholic priests from around the world came for treatment. Today, his vision continues to drive our ministry of healing Catholic clergy and religious and returning them to their communities, reignited in their vocations.
History of Guest House Timeline
It was May 20, 1956, when Austin Ripley’s dream became a reality. The doors of Guest House opened to care for priests and seminarians suffering from alcoholism. Ripley, a recovering alcoholic, recognized that priests had a more difficult time in recovery than lay people. He believed Guest House could help priests successfully recover and restore their relationship with God. In 1994, Guest House introduced a separate program for women religious. Today, both programs operate simultaneously on the 105-acre campus in Lake Orion, Michigan, treating clergy and men and women religious suffering from substance use disorders, process addictions and compulsive overeating. We are grateful to continue our ministry of saving lives, saving vocations and strengthening Catholic communities.
A first Guest House in Wisconsin opens as a temporary facility and closes within a few years.
Austin Ripley meets with Detroit’s Edward Cardinal Mooney who agrees to help begin Guest House in the Detroit area.
Guest House in Lake Orion, Michigan, opens to clergy and men religious in the historic William E. Scripps Family Mansion on Pentecost Sunday, with 20 beds.
The Guest House program expands from 20 beds to 40 beds, and there are still waiting lists for priests in need of the healing treatment offered.
Success and growth prompts the opening of a second location in Rochester, Minnesota, with 23 beds.
Guest House in Rochester increases to 43 beds to meet the demand for care.
As part of a reorganization effort, Guest House moves all clergy and men religious to Rochester and continues outpatient treatment, aftercare and education in Lake Orion.
Guest House responds to an increasing need and opens a program for women religious on the Lake Orion campus in the Scripps Mansion.
Recognizing each situation as different, Guest House opens “The Recovery Residence,” a long-term setting for clergy and men religious who require additional time to achieve quality and lasting sobriety.
Guest House, committed to continually improving the quality of services and service outcomes, earned accreditation from CARF (Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities) and continues to achieve the recognition.
The outdoor Mother Seton Chapel opens at the Lake Orion campus, providing a natural setting for Masses and other events.
Construction is completed on a new treatment center for women religious in Lake Orion, restoring the mansion to continuing care and education use. The Scripps Mansion is added to the National Register of Historic Places.
To most efficiently meet the needs of clients, Guest House consolidates, closing the Rochester center and returning the clergy and men religious to a renovated treatment center in Lake Orion, with the women religious relocating to a new state-of-the-art, handicapped-accessible facility on the Lake Orion grounds. Guest House acquires the Human Development Magazine.
Guest House recently celebrated 60 years, and our goal is to continue our ministry and meet the needs of those we serve. Our strategic plans for the future focus on improving campus grounds to support advanced care and a peaceful environment for healing, increasing the scholarship fund for clients who have little or no ability to pay for treatment, and providing innovative programs and education in addiction and recovery.
Meet Our Staff
Click on any name underlined in blue to learn more
President and CEO
- Jeff Henrich
- Mark Miller, Chief Financial Officer
- Cheryl Goodwin, Accounting Clerk II
- Cathy Smith, Accounting Clerk II
- Mark Kassin, Network Administrator
- Cindy Vario, Human Resources Director
- Rev. George Hazler, IVD, Chaplain
- Jeffrey Berger, MD, Medical Director
- Mary Ellen Merrick, IHM, Executive Director
- Susan Acho, RN
- Kerry Black, LPN
- Susan Canale, RN
- Daniel Carlock, Addictions Therapist
- Robyn Christen, RN
- Alexandra Colvard, Addictions Therapist
- Julie Cotant-Kelly, Addictions Therapist
- April Donaldson, Nursing Supervisor
- Tom Ghena, Lead Therapist, Men’s Program
- Elizabeth Jennings, RN
- Kathryn Jones, LPN
- Sharon Larson, LPN
- Anne Lazowski, Dietitian
- Margaret Miller, RN
- Annette Nelson, RN
- Leslie Pauloski, LPN
- Emily Richardson, Addictions Therapist
- Emily Stewart, Certified Nursing Assistant
- Patti Stowell, Nurse
- Cassandra Tordosinsky, Addictions Therapist
- Jacqueline Walton, LPN
- Louise Westcott, Administrative Assistant
- Christina Wrighton, RN
Communications, Education & Outreach
- Doris Brandt, Marketing & Communications Director
- Colleen Richards, Education and Alumni Administrator
- Rev. Mr. Christopher V. Stark, Outreach Director
- Rev. Mark S. Stelzer, STD, Education Director
- Colleen Jewel, Program Consultant
- Mary Gene Kinney, BVM, Program Consultant
- Brian K. Shaffer, Continuing Care Counselor, Men’s Program
- Rita Valade, RSM, Program Consultant
- Ken VanElslander, Program Consultant
- Rev. Mr. Christopher V. Stark, Outreach Director
- Cheryl Clark, Development Services Manager
- Brother Richard Hittle, SJ, Writer
- Lenore Koehn, Development
Guest House has many dietary, maintenance, reception and transportation staff who are involved in daily operations and positively impact the care we offer.
BOARD OF TRUSTEES
Michael J. Fontana
Chair of the Board
Paul W. Schmidt
Treasurer of the Board
Mark E. Van Faussien
Secretary of the Board
Most Rev. Donald F. Hanchon, M.Div.
Bridget Bearss, RSCJ
James F. Connelly
Rev. Laurence P. Dolan, OFM
Joan M. Lewis, DDS, MSD
Rev. Dr. Patrick A. McDonald, JD
Mary Persico, IHM, EdD
Paul Robertson Jr.
Robert D. Steele, MD
Men’s Advisory Board
JERRY D. BOSTIC
PAUL L. BROUGHTON
RICHARD K. FRISCH
HON. ALICE RESNICK