House of faith sharing, refugee support

By 
  • June 8, 2007
{mosimage}TORONTO - When Tembeka Ndlovu came to Canada from Zimbabwe in 2005, she sought refuge and a good home for herself and her son, Andile. She found that at Toronto’s Romero House , where she and Andile lived for a little more than a year.
In March 2007, another community house opened in the city, and Tembeka and Andile became the first basement-apartment tenants of Rutilio Grande House.

Located on Symington Avenue in the city’s west end, Rutilio Grande House is an initiative to provide affordable community housing for faith sharing and refugee support.

When a house across the street from Romero House was put up for sale in early 2004, Lori Ryan, who is youth co-ordinator for the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace, and other members of the community began to discuss the idea of creating a second community home. Although the house sold to another buyer, the conversations continued.

In November 2006, a house in Ryan’s own neighbourhood went on the market. She bought it, and by March, it was named, blessed and inhabited by the first members of the Rutilio Grande community.

The three-unit duplex is currently home to the Ndlovus, house founders Ryan and Genevieve Gallant, and the family of Anil Varughese, who immigrated from India in 1999. While Varughese refers to himself as a tenant, he emphasizes that his family’s role is to provide support.

{sidebar id=2}“We just do what we can to help out,” he said.

It is, indeed, what Ndlovu calls “a family home.” Since moving to the house, her son has improved in school and built a strong relationship with Varughese. Community life has been very good for Andile.

Three families, living together, with space and support for all. This is the vision for the Rutilio Grande community, articulated in the words of Fr. Rutilio Grande, S.J., an El Salvadoran Jesuit priest and promoter of liberation theology: “The material world is for everyone, without borders. A common table with a tablecloth big enough for everyone, like this Eucharist. Each one with a seat so that each one comes to the table to eat.”

Ryan explains that Rutilio Grande is an intentional community, where people choose to come together and live as they wish for the world to live, allowing people to live the life they are created for, rather than one thrust upon them by poverty or circumstance.

Ryan emphasizes that the house itself does not contain the community, but serves as an important part of it.

Guided by three tenets — prayer and reflection, action and hospitality and celebration — community members gather bi-weekly for a faith sharing activity, where the upcoming Sunday’s Scripture is read and discussed, stories are shared and intentions are brought forth. Ryan describes it as a time to bring work and lives to God, to discern His call and to be vigilant to the needs of the world and each other.

This summer, the Rutilio Grande community will host Kid Fun Fridays for children in the Grande and Romero communities. Volunteers are needed for this initiative.

For information contact Ryan or Gallant at Rutilio_Grande_Community@yahoo.ca , or call (416) 532-7251.

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