I’m just back from a visit to St. John the Compassionate Mission in Toronto, where ministry in accompaniment with the marginalized and “poor” is truly all about community. Launched 30 years ago, the mission is a community: with a phenomenal bakery where formerly homeless can gain job skills and dignity making true elite French sourdough bread (and many other yummy baked goods); serves breakfast and lunch at least 4 days a week beginning at 5 AM; where meals are on real plates with metal cutlery (they don’t have a dishwashing machine because they believe in the camaraderie of hand-washing after every meal); where folks really know each other’s names and listen to their stories; where the most amazingly beautiful icons look down on all meals from the surrounding walls; where an exquisite tiny chapel is part of the building with extraordinary voices; with a resident cat; where they also have an educational component called the “Lived Theology School” where the marginalized neighbors serve as “professors”; where it’s not immediately obvious who is “homeless” and who is not; where everyone is welcome. They have a rural retreat, “St. Mary of Egypt Refuge”, a place where ordinary people come together in a beautiful, natural setting for respite and support. The Mission’s philosophy is published in To Give A Beautiful Witness: The Rule of St. John the Compassionate Mission, available from amazon.com.
Want to learn more? Visit the Mission’s website, view a short video (below), or listen to a full-length lecture by founding director, Fr. Roberto Ubertino:
Learn more about St. Mary of Egypt Refuge in Queensborough, Ontario: