“The Guest House mission is, indeed, one that is truly praiseworthy and noble. It is my fervent prayer and earnest hope that… your service and educational efforts will receive the support they deserve.”
With that Archbishop Pietro Sambi, Apostolic Nuncio to the United States, welcomed Guest House staff and supporters to the Vatican Embassy in June 2006, for a special celebration of our 50th anniversary.
For his kind hospitality, his strong leadership, and his abundant generosity, we are truly grateful.
* * * * *
THE FOUNDING OF GUEST HOUSE – Guest House was founded in 1956 by writer Austin Ripley, whose credits include—among other things—the “Minute Mysteries” which I remember from Parade Magazine, which came each week as a supplement to the Sunday newspaper when I was a child.
Ripley was an interesting man with an interesting family: He was the son of silent film actress Mabel Albertson (who was best known as Darrin’s interfering mother in the TV sitcom “Bewitched”), and was once married to actress Cloris Leachman. He was the father of “Shoes of the Fisherman” director George Englund and father-in-law of the actress Sharon Stone.
Ripley, himself an alcoholic in recovery, realized that Catholic priests who sought help for addiction did not fare as well as the general public. Rather, he saw, they became “helpers” when they were themselves in need of help. This attitude of service actually prevented them from achieving sobriety. He believed that the best way to help alcoholic priests was to open a center just for them—a center where, in the presence of their brother priests, they could seek the peace and sobriety they desired.
With substantial help from Cardinal Mooney, Archbishop of Detroit, Ripley opened his center in the William E. Scripps Estate, former summer home of the founder of the Detroit News and the Scripps media empire.
* * * * *
CELEBRATING A SPECIAL ANNIVERSARY – As Guest House’s 50th Anniversary neared, I contacted the Vatican Embassy to ask whether Archbishop Sambi might help to make our anniversary year truly special. He offered more than I expected: He graciously opened the beautiful Apostolic Nunciature in Washington DC for an invitation-only reception and served as our host for the evening.
He was a warm and welcoming host, most generous in his communication with us and even more generous on the evening of our reception.
Included here are some wonderful photo memories of that magical evening.
* * * * *
PRAYERS NEEDED – Archbishop Sambi, age 73, now faces a serious health crisis. Two weeks after delicate lung surgery, he is reportedly on a ventilator to allow his lungs to heal. According to one report, his family members have been summoned from Italy to be with him here in theUnited States.
Please hold this good man of God in your prayers today. Pray that he will have the strength to bear his illness with grace, and to reach out to his loving Father. Should God decide to take him home soon, please pray that he will know the joy of eternity where, in the company of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, he will rejoice with the saints forever.