Robert Kinghorn

Robert Kinghorn

Robert Kinghorn is a deacon of the Archdiocese of Toronto.

You can read his column, "The Church on the Street" in The Catholic Register.

You can contact him at robert.kinghorn@ekinghorn.com

Winter was settling in and it was a blustery, cold evening as I walked around the streets with Tracey, a survivor of the street who for 14 drug-addled years had called the alleys and drug dens of the downtown area “home.” 

It was one of those nights when I was challenged by Pope Francis’ insightful observation in The Joy of the Gospel: “The Gospel tells us constantly to run the risk of a face-to-face encounter with others, with their physical presence which challenges us, with their pain and their pleas.”

We all have a longing for a place to call “home.” For people who spend many aimless years living on the streets, “homelessness” is more than a condition of the body, it is a condition of the soul. 

I have become used to the cacophony which inhabits the downtown of the city and usually treat it as background noise as I walk around. 

A Catholic, a Baptist and a Mennonite walked into a bar and the barman said, “What’s this, some kind of a joke?” 

“I’m going down east to try to be reconciled with my father.” 

The summer had been warm and humid, and unlike many churches that can afford air conditioning, the church on the street had to find its own way of surviving the muggy evenings. 

In a remote fishing village, the people became accustomed to the pounding of the heavy seas which imperiled every boat leaving their harbour, but they never could become accustomed to the deaths. The deaths of fishermen caught in the grip of an uncompromising ocean in the dead of night. 

It is wonderful the theology we learn in coffee shops.

When I started out on the Church on the Street, I gave little thought to some of the logistics of such a ministry apart from determining that it would be 8 p.m. onwards every Thursday evening.

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