St. John the Compassionate Mission

St. Xenia House

A place to call home.

Independence, we all want it, but it sometimes is the one barrier between true independence. Often independence is the sign of maturity that we have grown up, the captain of our own ship. Yet we are growing, crashing, burning, and getting up, throughout our past childhood and this new childhood. When a cure comes to us in this state, we usually reject it, because it means loss of independence and reliance on another. We are unknowingly reliant on another, the person that quietly goes without so I can have, or fixes my tear in my shirt. And this other, impinges on everything of me, sometimes shatters all I hold true, and makes me realize how far I have to come. It is a miracle; anyone can come to salvation, to reliance on the Divine Other, in the state we have fallen. It sometimes seems that niceties and superficial pleasantries are all that keep us from tearing people apart. This is a macrocosm of the daily lessons learned under the surface at St. Xenia House.

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.