Archbishop Sotiros: “The purpose of proclaiming the Gospel is to help the faithful live according to Christ. Offer the truth of our faith in a supportive, loving and hopeful manner.”
(Excerpts from St Basil Homily 23: On the Holy Martyr Mamas)
The Church is founded upon such fathers of truth [as Mamas]. Do you see how in keeping this feast people are honoring virtue and not riches? The Church honors those who formerly led us forward so that they might continue to exhort us in the present. “Let us not aspire to wealth for ourselves,” the martyr says, “or to the unreliable wisdom of the world, or to passing glory. Such things vanish with this life. Be a holy laborer, for this is what you will take with you to heaven, leaving behind an immortal memory and acquiring permanent fame.” So then, if such is the memorial of a shepherd, let us not worship wealth. For we have gathered to praise one who had no wealth at all. Let us not go home marveling at one who was rich, but at one who had both poverty and piety. A shepherd is of virtually no significance. He has no appreciable skill. Wouldn’t you be insulted if someone provoked you by asking, “Are you a shepherd?” A shepherd possesses nothing more than his daily food, a leather satchel, a staff, and whatever he needs for that day, with no thought for the next. He shuns crowds, flees legal entanglements, knows nothing of flattery, business, or wealth. He has no roof over his head, living out under the open sky, gazing up to heaven at night and learning to know the Creator from the wonder of the stars. A shepherd: let us not be ashamed of the truth, nor imitate the pagan myth-makers who embellish the truth with elegant trappings. We have here a humble man, a poor shepherd, the pride of Christians. If our father in faith is such as this, a teacher of those who seek piety, well then, so were the disciples – fisherman and tax collectors. No one was rich. No one was illustrious. All were of no account in the eyes of the world. This is the kind of person we celebrate today – one we are delighted to honor, one we love so much that (we at St. John Mission) alter our lives for his sake.
By John Sanidopoulos, johnsanidopoulos.com/2019/09/by-honoring-saint-mamas-one-honors.html
Our friend Eliana was baptized on the Sunday after Theophany, January 9, 2022. Eliana is originally from Guatemala. She has been saying the ‘Our Father’ in Spanish during the liturgy for the last couple of years, and attended all the catechumenate classes. She is one of the faithful members of our community who has been regularly attending all our services, including during the week. She has never missed our Bridges sessions on Wednesday evenings, or our reflections on the Gospel after the sixth hour on days when the Mission is open.
While being a single mother, Eliana always finds time to care for the elderly in our neighbourhood. Every week she brings names to the proskomidia table so we can pray for them during the liturgy. She also takes holy water from church to bring it to those in need for holiness in their lives. She has a heart which has seen much, because she has loved much. Her heart was renewed on that Sunday through the grace of baptism, a rare gift that our community was given to witness and receive so that her new prayer can become our prayer, and her joy can become our joy in Christ Jesus.
— Father Nicolaie
After a time of discernment and prayer, Bradley was received into the order of the catechumenate during the sunday Liturgy, January 16, 2022.
On Lazaros Saturday, Elisha was chrismated. She first came to our community around six years ago. She returned during the pandemic, and became a catechumen. She cannot be with us for long stretches of time, because of a physical condition. However, you can find her at times praying in silence in the chapel, early in the morning, almost weekly. She prays for us, and for those the community cares for. She has a deep understanding and love for those who are vulnerable. She keeps them in her prayers all the time. Elisha also writes short reflections on the scripture as part of her learning of faith journey. Some of her writing was shared in the bulletins or newsletter. Some reflections on the Psalms were read during our Psalms teachings on Tuesdays.
Through her chrismation, we were given to witness the gospel at the Mission. Elisha chose the “life and the resurrection” (“I am the resurrection and the life,” John 11:1–45, the gospel on Saturday), during a time when our culture tempts us with death. Her choice is not a temporary one, but one that gives us a glimpse of what Christ prepared for those who love Him.
In general, we suffer today because of a lack of commitment to good things. Elisha’s choice becomes a living witness for us. Her prayer guides us, because she knows well the One she prays to. She knows Him from the reality of her life, and she knows Him from the lives of those she prays for.
Zachary was chrismated on Holy Saturday, 2022. He has a gentle and honest heart in a strong body, with a genuine desire to acquire the gift of prayer. We discovered all this when he spent some time with us at St. Mary’s Refuge over the summer, together with other cathehumens. The work he did in the forest became a testimony of his character – just as the time spent in prayer in the chapel and the common reflections on the scripture we shared within the community revealed to us his inclination toward silence and prayer.
When he has time, Zachary spends a day with us at the Mission, helping with anything we need. He studied philosophy, and as with any spirit who loves wisdom, Zachary balanced this out with handyman skills. The work and prayer makes him happy. We know how to take advantage of this.
His desire to be in the church came as a result of his reflective and inquiring nature. However, his choice became personal as he discovered the praxis of it. Zachary’s chrismation on Holy Saturday really feels like this is the beginning of something new that is going to open and sanctify his life. Because of his integrity, he will pursue what is revealed to him in Truth.
Zachary is a real witness for the new generation, on how to find the light and keep it, in a time when confusion, hypocrisy, and superficiality come across as shiny ‘realities’ worthy of living. He gives them hope, and he gives us joy.
Blessed and dedicated by the late Metropolitan Nicholas, of blessed memory, the chapel is part of the Apostolate of the Carpatho-Russian Diocese of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople (the Mother Church of Christ’s poor), serving under the Omophorion of Metropolitan Gregory of Nyssa (ACROD).
Tuesday to Friday from 5–11 a.m.
06:00 Doors open for silent prayer
08:30 Divine Liturgy
Send us a message at firstname.lastname@example.org.
At St. John the Compassionate . . . (660 kb PDF).
Text of a presentation by Archbishop Sotirios of Canada, September 2021 (225 kb PDF).
Father Nicolaie Atitienei is the Spiritual Father and serving priest of St. John the Compassionate Mission. Father was born in Solca, Romania. He attended West University of Timisoara (Romania) Faculty of Letters, History and Theology, where he earned a Masters in Social Psychology and graduated from four years of seminary.
His understanding of Orthodoxy was also shaped by the martyric witness of many people around him during the brutual Ceaușescu regime, and then the fall of communism in Romania. Father’s experience of Orthodoxy and its influence in society comes from a lived experience, an experience that helps him understand the reality in which the Mission finds itself witnessing the Orthodox faith.
After coming to Canada he earned an MSW from U of T.
After humbly serving over twelve years at the Mission, where all of his four children grew up, he was chosen to lead our community. The community also petitioned our ruling bishop to ordain him to the priesthood. His leadership is in continuity of the original spirit of the Mission, as well as a new deepening of the Mission’s life.
His wife Presbytera Michaela beautifully serves as a cantor.
Under his leadership a new mission-parish opened in Scarbough called St. Zoticos, where he also serves. Father is sought by many people for counseling and as a spiritual father, both in the church and outside the Mission.
He serves and leads by words that are inspiring, but also by a humble nurturing care of each person. He is a prolific writer, winning several literary awards back in Romania. He now publishes a weekly inspirational text for our Sunday bulletin – some of these writings can be heard on Ancient Faith.
Our community is deeply grateful for Father’s leadership, and is witnessing a renewal of people and good works.
Deacon Pawel Mucha came to St. John’s in 2007, planning to stay for one year. Originally from the UK, he previously had a career in teaching. A spiritual son of Archbishop Anthony of Sourozh, he frequented Father Lev and Elder Sophrony of Sussex. Ordained as a deacon for the Mission in 2010, he is now Prefect of the Lived Theology School at the Mission. He is appreciated for his encyclopedic knowledge of church history, and dry Scottish sense of humour.
Sub-deacon Arsenio Tibayan, originally from the Philippines, speaks fluent Tagalog, is married and has two children, also serving at St. Zoticos Mission.
Luke O’Neil is a Brother of Mercy who serves as an ordained Reader, and leads the weekly daily services at St. Silouan Chapel. He came to Orthodoxy from the United Church of Canada. He is the community librarian and historian. He has a great knowledge on the lives of the saints, and a vast collection of icons of lesser-known saints. Brother Luke is the regular member of Lourmel house. You can hear his stories of Mission life on the Ancient Faith Parables of Community blog.
Starosta Miroslava is married, a mother of two, and a recent retiree from the financial world. “I am blessed to serve as Starosta in our humble community. I serve with joy and reverence, with faith in our church and gospel. I care for all people of God, and humbly I am in service of the poor and the church, working along with our spiritual Fathers and the Sobor. With all my heart I rejoice to serve in humility, to help take care of people, to give and receive blessings, and to pray in our chapel. I am truly blessed to be part of our community.”
Presbytera Mihaela is our cantor. Like her husband, she is originally from Romania. She is a full-time teacher and mother. As well as her beautiful – some say angelic – voice, she brings to the community a practical knowledge of Orthodox liturgical music traditions.In many parts of the liturgy, we are encouraged to sing as a community.
St. John’s Mission has a wealth of new books available for purchase, with subjects including Orthodox spirituality, saints, and theology. Here’s a sample lists (approx. 1 Mbyte each), or come to 155 Broadview and enjoy browsing at your leisure: