STAR: Homeless memorial records 995th name as city committee debates new housing action plan

Toronto Star: Homeless memorial records 995th name as city committee debates new housing action plan

Darlene Stimson spoke with anger and grief, standing at the base of the church steps, of the many systems who failed her loving and trusting son.

“He never let illness or pain get in the way of being the most generous human being I have ever known,” said Stimson, about the six-foot-tall man who loved wrestling and karaoke and who, because of early health challenges, viewed much of the world through the eyes of 12-year-old child.

“In the end, while it was a respiratory infection that resulted in Adam’s death, the proximate cause was a social safety net that let him down.”

Bear Fruit that Befits Repentance

Sherman Hesselgrave’s homily for Advent 2, December 8, 2019

Readings: Isaiah 11:1-10 Psalm 72:1-7, 18-19 Matthew 3:1-12

Nothing will spike blood pressure quite like hypocrisy. “You brood of vipers!,” John the Baptist says to the Pharisees and Sadducees who have come to the Jordan River for baptism. Later in Matthew’s gospel, Jesus will liken Pharisees and teachers of the law to “whitewashed tombs.” The veneer and the interior life lack integrity. My liturgics professor in seminary was a Jesuit who described a well-integrated person as someone, who no matter how or where you engage with them, you have a sense of the whole person. There is a consistency, an integrity, no matter where your lives touch.

This is a theme that flows through Jesus’ public life and teaching, and he uses the metaphor of bearing fruit regularly. Trees are known by the fruit they produce, and whether that fruit is any good. We have all had the experience of sinking our teeth into a gorgeous-looking peach, apple, or plum, only to be disappointed by its mealy texture or bland flavour. On this Second Sunday of Advent, when John the Baptist is always the focus, we are confronted today by his imperative to “bear fruit that befits repentance.” I would like us to take a moment to unpack John’s statement, by taking a closer look at repentance and bearing fruit.

Continue reading Bear Fruit that Befits Repentance

Do Ontario Prisoners need more Phone Access?

Do Ontario prisoners need more phone access?

When Krista tried calling a 24-hour mental-health crisis line from an Ontario jail, she says, she couldn’t connect. “I tried three or four times, and it wouldn’t go through. I was having a mental breakdown … in here, they don’t care,” says Krista (whose name has been changed to protect her identity) from inside a provincial detention centre. 

Advocates, academics, and prisoners themselves suggest that barriers to accessing services remotely from inside prison are common. Experts say that they are the result of an outdated telephone system that is overseen by the Ontario Ministry of the Solicitor General and, since 2013, has been contracted out to Bell Canada.

Are You Woke?

It is now the hour to wake from your sleep!

That’s the summons from the readings at the beginning of this Advent, as we embark once again on a new cycle of the church’s year.

But this year I’d like to pose that question in a slightly different way. Are you “woke?” Being ‘Woke’  is connected with the word ‘awake’ but it means more than just being awake…

To “stay woke” is a phrase borrowed from African American Vernacular English. To be ‘woke’ means to be ever vigilant: and to live in a way that is not anaesthetized by, or subservient to the culture we live in, which for people of colour, means being particularly alert to its systemic racism. The first use of the woke appears in the song a 2008 album New Amerykah by soul singer Erykah Badu where she repeats the phrase: “I stay woke.” 

Continue reading Are You Woke?

Abba, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.

Homily given by Sonya Dykstra on November 24, 2019

After my second homily this summer, I felt I was done giving them. In fact, when I agreed to coordinate this service, I did so under the assumption that I’d find an individual willing to give a reflection instead of standing here myself. So why is it that I’m attempting another homily? I’d like to share three beliefs I hold that work together and contributed to this homily.

One, I believe in God the creator. I’m sure it’s a belief many of you share, so much so, we say it together in the Apostle’s Creed and the Nicene Creed: I believe in God, the creator of heaven and earth.

Two, I believe God continues to create, the easiest example to cite are the newborns who enter the world each day: tiny creatures that I believe God had a hand in.

Third, I believe God invites us to be co-creators. I love this idea – that you and I can accept God’s invitation to participate intentionally in what God is doing in the here and now. God’s story in humanity isn’t finished. The bible ended in Revelation, but God’s story is still unfolding. When we align ourselves with being attentive to God’s will rather than our own often uncertain, often selfish wills, there is joy, there is purpose, there is life-giving energy. How to be attentive to God’s will is a harder question to answer and I want to use my standing here to serve as a small example.

Continue reading Abba, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.

loving justice in the heart of our city