At lunchtime on a beautiful summer’s day many years ago, I walked downtown in the heart of Toronto. A makeshift stage had been set up, and a woman was singing one of my favourite songs from the world of musicals, “On My Own” from Les Miserables, about romantic rejection and hopelessness. But there was something wrong. It took me a little while to figure out what the problem was, but gradually it dawned on me. She had no passion! Technically, she hit every note perfectly, yet it was as though she had never felt the pain of loneliness. There was no conviction that she had ever in her lifetime experienced being on her own, deserted, and heartbroken.

Published in Register Columnists

I teach it and I preach it, but every so often I am reminded how difficult it is to live it. I am talking about laying our expectations on others.

Published in Register Columnists

The grip of a long, cold winter had finally been broken when I walked downtown on a warm St. Patrick’s night in Toronto. It was not long until I came across my first party. Some men were standing outside a shelter drinking and joking. I stopped and wished them a happy St. Patrick’s Day and asked if they lived in the shelter. Ray, standing next to me, said he used to live there but had moved up a step and now had his own apartment.

Published in Robert Kinghorn

There is an old saying, “Every saint has a past, every sinner has a future.” The truth is that we are all a complex blend of saint and sinner whose scales of sanctity teeter on a delicate balance throughout life.

Published in Robert Kinghorn

I am often asked to speak to groups about my experiences on the streets of the city, and what it means for each of us to be the Church on the Street. Recently at the end of one of these talks I was asked, “What do those on the street need the most?” I could do no better than to quote one of my heroes, Fr. Greg Boyle who works with the gang members in Los Angeles and who said, “Gang members need hope. They live with a lethal absence of hope.”

Published in Robert Kinghorn

It was one of these soft evenings when a gentle snowfall enveloped the drabness of the streets, and with no breeze to speak of, the chill had been taken from the air. As I walked the downtown streets the ancient hymn came to my mind, “See Amid the Winter’s Snow.”

Published in Register Columnists

There is a freedom in walking the streets, following my instincts and seeing where the Spirit will lead. On this particular evening I was unexpectedly led back 14 years to a cold evening on Jan. 11, 2007, but I was taken there by a circuitous route.

Published in Robert Kinghorn

Catholic young adults gathered one last time, virtually, Oct. 25 to bid farewell to the Faith Connections program operated by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Toronto.

Published in Youth Speak News

She was only 16, a child by all accounts, and she had been sent to the big city from her home in northern Canada for treatment at a mental health clinic.

Published in Robert Kinghorn

It has been a month that has reminded me of how relentlessly unforgiving the street is to its people. Like a scorned lover, it will try to grasp them from the arms of freedom to ensnare them in their old ways.

Published in Robert Kinghorn

Warm weather can bring out the best and the worst in the parishioners of the church on the street. It can lull them into a state of lassitude that can only be equalled by a homily that has lost sight of its destination, or else stir them into frenetic anger fuelled by an assortment of illicit stimulants.

Published in Robert Kinghorn

There are some days it is harder than others to get up the energy, and indeed the courage to make the trip downtown to the Church on the Street, and this was one of them.

Published in Robert Kinghorn

Have you ever had an experience in your life and you are not sure if you dreamt it or lived it? Mine goes back at least 50 years and it is as vivid today as if it happened yesterday.

Published in Robert Kinghorn

It was the walk that first attracted my attention. Not so much a walk as a hobble, dragging one leg painfully after the other. Dusk had descended on the streets and the chill of winter had finally given way to the promise of spring, although it was still far too cold for the many people scattered around the neighbouring homeless shelters.

Published in Robert Kinghorn

Two sandwiches, a fruit bar, three granola bars, one chocolate bar, maybe a muffin or some other baked treat and a fruit cup all in a brown, paper bag — times 200,000.

Published in Canada
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