St. John the Compassionate Mission


Mary Glowacki

March 5, 1924 - September 6, 2015

For 30 years Mary supported the Mission and touched our lives with her kindness.

Memory Eternal!

Donors' Dinner 2015

June 6th Great time, had by all!

Our main speaker was Dion Oxford - "What is the work of the church in this present generation especially towards the poor?"

listen    pics

Fr Roberto (left) Dion (right)

Town Hall Meeting Notes: the voice of those who have no say.... link notes

St John's Community Garden 2015

Hello all,

Happy sunny morning to you! Hope you are enjoying this beautiful day. I just wanted to say thank you to all of those who could join us for our first planting day yesterday at the Community Garden. We managed to plant a diverse variety of vegetables (lettuce, spinach, kale, bok choi, tomatoes, zucchini, beets and carrots) with a bunch of fresh herbs and some beautiful flowers. The garden looks great and many hands made for light work. Thank you for your time, energy, donations of plants and materials and for being a part of this.

For those of you who could not join us yesterday, but are still interested in helping out, we are still in need volunteers to help us with daily/weekly with watering, weeding, fertilizing, future planting and harvesting. I will send out a weekly volunteer list to help with coordinating our efforts.

In addition, we have the opportunity to help paint and decorate the gardening shed. If anyone is interested in this crafty initiative, please connect with me and we can work with the rest of our neighbours in beautifying the cement structure. If anyone knows of any talented artists, please let us know.

We look forward to watching the garden grow and to harvesting as we go along so that we can provide the community at St John's with some lovely fresh produce through our meals program. In addition, we hope that the garden will be a space in which we can enjoy together. Picnics to walking trips to meditation and prayer - there are many great ways to connect us deeper together. 

With great appreciation,

Ashley Grzybowski

Town Hall Meeting Notes: the voice of those who have no say.... link notes


Friday May 1st- St John's helped support an art workshop at Mercy City Church. Children got creative and channelled their unique qualities into "diversity doll"- teaching us that differences help make us achieve more together as one.

Saturday May 2nd- St John's was featured in a social justice walk in Riverdale hosted by Jane's Walk and Councillor Paula Fletcher. The walk aimed at highlighting the history and the positive impacts of organizations, such as St John's, working to build community in South Riverdale.


This is the HUNGRY FOR GOD 2015 Lenten Challenge!

It's simple to understand but hard to do!

St John's Mission In The News!

Live Eye - Jenn live at St John’s Mission and Bakery 

To See The Rest Please Click Here

New Community Leadership Team
with Assistants

Leadership: Bob (center), George (right-center)

Assistants: Illiana (left), Raymond (left-center), Janice (right)

Edna Stratton

Edna, who died Tuesday, was one of the first people to be involved in the community of St John's back in the Blake Street days. In recent years she was not here so much as her health declined. She had a wicked sense of humour even in the face of life's difficulties and a somewhat direct approach to people. And even to herself. Even in photographs one can see the twinkle in her eyes. She was able to stay in her own home almost to the end thanks to a loyal and supportive group of friends who gave her the care she needed. Memory Eternal Edna!

Memory Eternal!
Edna Irene Stratton
August 22, 1948 - November 4, 2014

Saturday July 19th

Was the occasion of the summer BBQ at St John's. As in previous years this was largely due to the generosity and hard work of Mark and Darya Duma. Some photographs of this event are attached. Evidently judging by the numbers who came this was as popular as ever drawing both regulars and those less well known. Thanks also to Bob and all the volunteers who moved the inside to the outside and back again!!

Mark, Master of the Grill.

Bridge Painting Weekend

The days we painted the bridge at St Mary of Egypt Refuge!
June 20-21, 2014 pics

28th Donors' Dinner

June 5, 2014    pics 1 & pics 2

Our Donors' Dinner - the annual thank you from the Mission to those who by their steady support make the existence and work of St John's possible. As usual the dinner was made possible by the hard work of our volunteers - in the kitchen and the main hall of the Mission.

March 18, 2014

Fitness /relaxation class for adults followed by healthy eating.

An unexpected guest from the Winter Breakfast Program shares a warm moment with the local cat.

Christmas Dinner

December 25th, 2013

Doors opened to serve a wonderful meal and dessert to over 125 people. Christmas Day was hosted by St Moses and St Katherine Coptic Orthodox Church.    see pictures

St Nicholas

Dec 18, 2013

The "Living Christmas Story" starring children, adults and live animals! Followed by Christmas finger food, supper and drinks. While awaiting the arrival of St Nicholas from the 4 century on Turkish Airlines or Angel Wings... Children caught to tell the real St Nicholas their wish for Christmas! Received a blessing and a gift from St Nicholas personally, and took time to speak with him. St Nicholas went back to heaven on Air Flot not Flop and we all went home.     pictures

Advisory Board 2013-2014
Back row: George, Janice, Anthony
Middle row: Steve, Elizabeth, Illiana
Front row: Steve, Raymond, Lorne
Missing in action: Stewart, Mike

St. Moses & St. Katherine Coptic Orthodox Church

are hosting

 'Sunday Night Suppers,'


The Health Bus Visits St John's

Part of the Sherbourne Health Centre

Appreciation Gala for volunteers & Staff Oct. 18th, 2013 pics

Thurka Gunaratnam (left-center) celebrated her 28th birthday by cooking a meal for the homeless. She brought with her family and friends.

Happy Birthday Thurka!

Our 27th Annual Donors' Appreciation Dinner

Thursday June 27, 2013 This years guest speaker was
Fr Hernan Astudillo founder of the Radio Voces Latinas and Pastor of San Lorenzo Anglican Church.          pictures

Part of the Vision of our community
is that we are growing our own food for the second year!

Saying Goodbye to:

From Left to Right, Patricia Wilkinson and Colin McCullough from the Community Service Worker Program at George Brown College, Ashley (Kettle of Fish Programs, still here), and Roshelle Lawrence from the Social Work Program at Ryerson University

Christ is Risen!

Happy Pascha

"You have the poor with you always and whenever you will you may do them good"
Mark 14:7

Presbytera Maria, Mr Fountas,
Mr Misthios & Mr Halecky in front
of St John's Bakery

Archons of the Patriarchate Visit St John's on March 2, 2013

We were honoured with the visit of Mr Anthony J. Limberakis, MD National Commander, Archon Aktouarios, Philadelphia, PA; Mr James C. Fountas Treasurer, Archon Depoutatos, Scotch Plains, NJ; Mr John Halecky, Jr. Secretary, Archon Ekdikos, Summit, NJ; and Mr Constantine Misthios, Hartoularios, Archon of the Patriarchate, from Toronto.





Christmas Thank You

December 25th was an extremely busy day at St John's. Nearly 60 volunteers came to help prepare and cook the food. Others set up the hall with festive tables and others served the meal and helped with the massive clear-up afterwards. A special thanks go to Mikah and Alan who manged the cooking and the kitchen very effectively. We are also grateful to all those who made food contributions; to the musicians who created a relaxing Christmas atmosphere.

The Christmas Day dinner is only possible with the generosity and hard work of a lot of people who sacrifice their own Christmas to make it a good day for others. Co-ordinating the day requires a good team of leaders and this year special thanks go to Fr Jonathan Tobias and his group from East Pittsburg PA, Irene, Emily, Vince and Luke; and to Jacquelyn and Anne from our own community.

To each and all - a huge thank you!     Dn Pawel

Dec 13th, 2012

We were fortunate to have a group of students, along with their teacher and principal, from Metamorphosis Greek Orthodox School spend the day volunteering and getting first-hand knowledge on what it means to be part of a community.



Father Roberto Ubertino, Founder and Executive Director of St. John the Compassionate Mission, awarded Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal

photo (L-R):  Ms. Joanna Dunn, Ms. Chiara Ubertino, Very Rev. Fr. Roberto Ubertino, and Mr. Peter Tabuns MPP

September 24, 2012- Toronto, Canada

A new commemorative medal was created to mark the 2012 celebrations of the 60th anniversary of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s accession to the Throne as Queen of Canada. The Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal is a tangible way for Canada to honour Her Majesty for her service to this country.

“In this special year, as I dedicate myself anew to your service, I hope we will all be reminded of the power of togetherness and the convening strength of family, friendship, and good neighbourliness, examples of which I have been fortunate to see throughout my reign and which my family and I look forward to seeing in many forms as we travel throughout the United Kingdom and the wider Commonwealth.”  Elizabeth II, 2012

At the same time, it serves to honour significant contributions and achievements by Canadians.  During the year of celebrations, 60 000 deserving Canadians have been recognized.

Mr. Peter Tabuns, Member of Provincial Parliament of Ontario for the Toronto-Danforth riding, nominated Father Roberto Ubertino, the Founder and Executive Director of St. John the Compassionate Mission, for his leadership and dedication in service of the people of the Riverdale community for 26 years. 

Mr. Tabuns presented Fr. Roberto with the Diamond Jubilee Medal at a ceremony on Monday, September 24, 2012 at the Legislative Building at Queen’s Park.

The Very Reverend Father Roberto Ubertino is a priest of the Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Diocese of America.  He was born in the Congo and has lived and worked in different parts of the world. He has four children.

St. John the Compassionate Mission began in 1986.  It is an oasis of hospitality to all and a place of belonging through awakening the God given dignity and value of each person.

St. John’s offers much to the people in the community through the Meal Programs, St. John’s Bakery, St. John’s Thrift Store, St. John’s Academy (after school tutoring program for children), Counseling services, Kids Klub, and other programs.

Fr Roberto
Donors' Dinner Talk June 2012

I want to express gratitude towards all of your for your generosity in supporting St John the Compassionate Mission. 

Since its humble beginnings, the Mission has remained humble, focusing on people rather than expansion. Now, at a time when most social services are cutting programs, St. John the Compassionate Mission has been responding with new, creative initiatives, like Kettle / You Are Not Alone / Growing our own food – seedlings.

Your support goes into helping people in a direct, personal and simple way.

Last year, a new phase began for us. We realized that we needed to grow from a community with a founder to a community of a new generation of leadership. We are exploring a collegial form of leadership that includes representation from all the different groups of people that make us this one community. We understand that the future is not just in fund raising, but more importantly, in getting the new generation on fire with this vision.

When the Mission began, society was very different. Yes, the poor were hurting, but the poor for the most part remained back then a marginalized group. You either ignored them or gave them a handout. For most people, poverty and the poor in Toronto were a distant reality. Today, we have discovered the 1% and most have wakened up to realize that they are part of the 99%. In the context of Toronto, one of the richest cities in the world, what does it really mean to be part of the 99%? For many, it has meant that now being generous is no longer an option. As I mentioned, many social services and church organizations have to cut their services because people are not giving as they did before the awakening of the 99%. But today, based on 2008 statistics, there are on earth 1 billion and 290 million people living with less than $1.25 per day. And in Toronto there are children going to be hungry, and men and women suffering because of lack of community, family, support, mental illness, homelessness (6 children evicted from co-op) and most of the 99% don't have to worry about this. Nonetheless, we are all affected by what is going on in the world. We all, even us who have been blessed with many gifts, feel insecure. But our crisis, before being economical, it is anthropological. That is why this crisis affects the weakest among us. We have reduced each of us to an individual, isolated; one has to carve out an existence alone.

As a recent church study put it: “Today, alienation, exploitation and marginalization have different symptoms: economic dependency, chronic unemployment, human trafficking, addictions, shattered families, and ongoing interpersonal abuse.”

But the human being, the poor show us, is made to exist in relationship. We need one another and not only the hungry need us. Reducing all of us to simple consumers, taxpayers, crushes us all and we all have built sand castles (e.g. financial markets).

To only talk about people including the poor in terms of needs puts out the flame of creativity in all of us.

Yes, we have many needs in common with animals, but the way we face this needs is different. We need food but also we develop the art of cooking and the fellowship of breaking bread together. We need shelter but we have developed architecture and the art of living in harmony. The basic needs of all human beings call for more than just a mechanical satisfaction. Need is connected to desire, freedom and creativity. It is not just the poor, who have had this creativity squashed. We all have been made to believe that economics is simply brute money, follows this crisis of generosity that many charitable groups experience. But the logic of economics must be enlarged to include the logic of generosity, of largeness, of gift. Not as a simple cosmetic thing I do – I gave at the office, to “give” as a way to appease this brutal logic of profit. 26 years ago we would say that you first need to pursue justice and that generosity would follow; today in 2012 we have to rather say that without generosity we will not be able to bring about even justice. Generosity is not about handouts or “noblesse oblige”. It is rather any action that is not immediately at the service of what is useful, or plays into the game of profit or what I can get out of it, but rather generosity is any deed that breathes towards a horizon of truth, of the beautiful, of what is good. Charles Péguy – the Money speaks about how work in itself has value. The chair needs to be made well not because it's what I am paid to do or make money from, but because the chair must be done well, it is this that makes us workers rather than servants in society. We need all to learn to work for one another, to be generous, to be of largeness of spirit. Perhaps this is the great challenge humanity has ever faced in its modern history. We just can't continue the same old same old course.

It is up to communities like St John's and many other humble communities of faith to show that it is possible to be generous, to love without counting the cost, to live the economics of the gospel. It is no longer just about them, it's all of us who need to discover this, before it's too late.

St John's Academy Annual Dinner
June 2012

Local MPP, Peter Tabuns, is presenting an award of excellence to Rathesh Balendran. Rathesh has been accepted on a full scholarship for grade 9 at The Abelard School, it is a university, private, preparatory high school.

The Annual Dinner is a tradition at St John's Academy. It is held each year in June, to honour the volunteer tutors, and to recognize the achievements of the students. It is a potluck dinner, in which parents bring a favourite dish of food to share with everyone. Tutors receive a gift of baked goods from St John's Bakery.

This year, we were honoured to have our local MPP, Peter Tabuns, as a guest of honour. His humour and words of encouragement to the students were most welcome.

Fr Roberto shared his inspiring words with the audience, and congratulated each student as they received their certificate. Many members of the Mission helped with the dinner. Thank you to everyone for making it a success.

Bodh Sarawati

In the Fall, City Council will vote to except Charities like the Mission from this new fee, please call your Alderman and ask him/her to support an exception for the Mission.

Please Help Trash the Charity Fee


Is this the direction we want to take our city?
Please sign the petition now. Link

Mary Jo Leddy, founder of Romero House & receiver of the Order of Canada 1996, spoke at the 26th Donors' Dinner. 


read more                pictures

Part of the Vision of our community
is that we are growing our own food.

Below are the potato plants

Father Roberto
"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

Part of the Vision of our community
is that we are going to grow our own food.
The 3nd step starts with planting potatoes.

The 2nd step starts with Fr Anthony blessing the field.

The 1st step starts with digging a water trench.

Fr Thomas Hopko's Visit - Nov 9-11, 2011

Fr Thomas lectured on "Christ and the Poor - Why Not?" for the Bridges session on Wednesday night and joined others for breakfast on Friday morning. Then preached during our 25th Vespers for St John's Feast Day later that day.

Fr Roberto (left), Presbytera Maria, Fr Thomas (right) pics


Bishop Tikhon and V.R. Father John Kowalczyk from St. Tikhon Seminary (OCA) visited the Mission October 13-14 and shared Canadian Thanksgiving with us and experienced daily life at St John’s.


(back row: Fr John, Bishop Tikhon, Deacon Pawel
middle row: Janice, Presbytera Maria, Fr Roberto, Tom, Julio
front row: Jeannie)

Reflection on the History
25th Anniversary Dinner – St John the Compassionate Mission
– 9 June 2011
by Mary Marrocco

It was a warm June evening, not unlike today; a Wednesday. more

25th Donors' Dinner Guest Speaker

Khouria Frederica Mathewes-Green

"Beauty and the Liturgy"

more Listen Link

25th Donors' Dinner Photographs 09/06/2011

Learn from the Poor at the Lived Theology School

February 23, 2011 Length: 16:26

Bobby Maddex from Ancient Faith Radio interviews Fr. Roberto Ubertino, the executive director of St. John the Compassionate Mission in Toronto, Ontario, and Dn. Pawel Mucha, the prefect of the mission's Lived Theology School.

On Tuesday December 7th, 2010

Bill otherwise known as the "professor" died. Much loved by a group of Mission people, gathered for his funeral in our chapel.

The burial took place at Beechwood Cemetery with Fr Roberto and Sub-deacon Will from Christ the Saviour Seminary, USA.

Memory Eternal.




Weekend Hours

10am-11am Coffee Hour
11:00 am - 1:00 pm

Our Vision

For most of the people who come to us, their experiences of community have been dysfunctional
at best.

Rather than simply duplicating social services, St. John the Compassionate Mission provides a unique, healthy community, a
safe place.