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Our friend Jean Vanier* visited St. John’s in 2005 and described best what our hospitality means...

“St. John’ Mission...is holy ground...where God resides...people with needs come here. Jesus said: when you give a meal, don’t invite family, friends — invite the poor. Don’t remain in the clan where we tend to flatter each other; don’t close up in a clan — open up...to those who are pushed aside — then you will be blessed (Luke 14). At the table, we meet each other. You help people find jobs, get work, and that’s good. But there’s something deeper needed in the human heart: community, family. St. John’s Mission is creating community: to appreciate one another, to love one another. It’s not just doing things for people, but to reveal to them that they are special, that they are beautiful — because the marginalized have become lonely. St. John’s is a place where people gradually come out from loneliness. This is the vision of St. John the Compassionate. Compassion isn’t just doing things for people, it’s revealing to people: you’re beautiful, you’re a child of God, and you have value. At the heart of the Mission is a deep belief that every person is important, whatever their situation. A community can’t take in everybody but it can become a sign, a sign that in this broken city there’s a place where people believe that love is possible. Love, not just as an effective reality. Of course we want to help people change, but first they have to discover something — that somebody loves me, that I’m precious. Compassion isn’t first of all doing or changing, though we must do what we can for people.

“First of all it’s the way we look at them, accept them, listen to their story, accept them in their extreme brokenness, and as they discover they are someone, maybe they can begin to change — as we reveal, you’re important. The community of St. John’s is a model, a sign, a sign of peace, in a world where many are locked up in their own little gang. In our communities, we’re terribly fragile. A community like this is fragile. As soon as we’re just people, we’re fragile. Our communities aren’t made of cement, they’re made of human, beautiful hearts that have been broken and are on the way to healing.”

Jean Vanier (extracted from a speech given at the Mission’s Donor Dinner in 2005, and copied onto paper serviettes by Mary Marrocco, as somebody had forgotten to turn on the recorder.)

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*In February of 2020, L’Arche International announced sad news concerning the personal conduct of Jean Vanier, founder of the organization that supports and cares for developmentally-disabled people. We are all sinners, Jean Vanier included, and all involved need our prayers. Despite his shortcomings, we can gain benefit from the inspiration of Jean Vanier’s good works.

©2020 St. John the Compassionate Mission | 416-466-1357 | info@stjohnsmission.org
155 Broadview Avenue, Toronto, Canada M4M 2E9
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