"This is the vision of St John the Compassionate Mission. Compassion isn't just doing things for people, it's revealing to people: You're beautiful, you're a child of God, you have value. Their anger isn't just against society-our competitive society-but the greatest pain is when people become angry with themselves, and begin to hate themselves. This is one of the greatest pains." - Jean Vanier
We have had the same group of people for nearly a year. 6 people crammed in a small, sometimes hot building. 3 Bathrooms but only enough water pressure for 1 ... a large kitchen but people that are not used to the idea of co-cooking ... 3 dedicated smokers with 3 dedicated non-smokers; and did I mention that everyone has some problem in life? Despite all of this, St Xenia House is doing well. We meet weekly and share problems, everything from someone not doing chores, to the reminder of the light that still needs fixing, keeping the fist fights at bay. And we share food, surprisingly 2/3 of residents have never done this, and we talk about mundane things. Learning to take is sometimes harder than learning how to give. Somewhere throughout this people become a family, a little dysfunctional, but what family isn’t?
Everyone here is at a crossroads. One resident has her neck surgery coming up, one that will hopefully free her from a condition that has taken her from the richness of life to the depth of poverty. Another is going to school, struggling to support a family while finding a qualified job, another trying to figure out where life after employment leads, another the loss of independence in blindness, another the loss of everything in life he loved. All of us here struggle with what it means to be interdependent. A lot of change is coming, but for now we hold our breath and continue on...
St. Xenia House is a radical new way of doing subsidized housing. It involves 6 people living the community life in a fully functioning house in the heart of downtown Toronto. This includes cooking, cleaning, and dealing with personal issues as a group. St. Xenia House provides a place of healing and development for many coming from the street or shelters.
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St. John the Compassionate Mission is an Apostolate of the Carpatho-Russian Orthodox church of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, in co-operation with local Orthodox churches of Greater Toronto serving anyone in need since 1986.
The Church must act in co-operation with non-profit and public service agencies, to prevent abuse and all forms of injustice, while reaching out to comfort, heal and empower those in need. There is no neutral ground in the universe. “Every millimetre of space and every second of time is claimed by God and counter claimed by Satan.” By being involved in the work of social justice, the Church can boldly proclaim that this world is God’s world.
- Fr John Chryssavgis
St. John the Compassionate Mission, Toronto