An interview with Diane Lefebvre and Sandy Wereley
Madonna House is one of the several drop-in centres in the greater Moncton area. These facilities are designed to smooth the way for people who are alone, down on their luck, or are trying to rebuild their lives after imprisonment, alcoholism, or other social rough spots.
The thrust of effort of Madonna House is simply listening and sharing. "We listen to all the people who come to see us," says Diane Lefebvre, one of the two directors of the House in Riverview, New Brunswick, "But we are not a counselling centre and won't attempt to solve people's problems." Anyone is welcome at Madonna House, which is open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day but Wednesday. Miss Lefebve and co-director Sandy Wereley will listen to any problem their visitors may have, and if they wish, will pray with them.
Miss Wereley says that the home has a prayer room, called the Hermitage, which is available for anyone wishing to spend a couple of hours of solitude. There is also a chapel where masses are held every Friday afternoon, by Reverend Herbert Grattan, the parish priest for Immaculate Heart Parish.
The two ladies take one 24-hour period each week in the chapel to meditate and pray for the people of the area and those who have visited the house, and who have shared their concerns with the two directors.
Miss Wereley said that the house also has a small library containing books and tapes which may be borrowed. The subject matter comprises spiritual items and light reading.
There are several of these centres located in Canada, the United States and the West Indies, operated by the Madonna House Apostolate, founded in 1930 in Toronto by Catherine Doherty.
The Riverview facility is the only one in the Maritimes. Although the Riverview House is strictly a "listening and praying" function, the operation is expanded in some others to include soup kitchens, secondhand clothing and other services to the less fortunate.
Despite its Roman Catholic affiliation, the Madonna House is open to people of all religious persuasions. "No one is ever asked what faith they hold and no one has to pray unless they wish to," Miss Lefebvre added.
"Some people may just want to have some one to tell their problems to," said Miss Wereley. "The House, started in 1978, sees a stead flow of visitors every day."
The facility which is rented by the Apostolate is supported strictly through private contributions, and there is no public funding involved.