Promoting a Flourishing Society
 
 

Building Community

March 11, 2021

Building community has not been easy during the COVID-19 pandemic. Gathering restrictions have been difficult enough for those with strong relationships, but for those who were already struggling to develop meaningful connections, the added challenges of physical distancing requirements and stay-at-home orders have simply added to their social isolation.

Even before the pandemic, Canadians of faith were working to build community with their neighbours, reaching out in particular to people who have been excluded or left behind. The Diakonia Project shines light on eight faith-based organizations who have been forging relationships with those on the margins or dealing with social isolation.

At Matthew House Ottawa, for example, refugees who have been uprooted from their home communities by war, violence, or persecution are welcomed into building a new community. The organization offers not just shelter, but a home where refugees share meals, get support in finding a job and an apartment, and help each other navigate the settlement process. “Our work is not just giving them a home, because we do everything that comes with meeting refugee needs,” one staff member remarks. “They need love. They need a community to belong to. They need family, since they left their family behind.”

The Welcome Home was established by Ukrainian Redemptorists seeking to live out the call of their founder, St. Alphonsus Liguori: “to bring the good news to the poor and most abandoned.” Their faith compels them not only to serve the vulnerable, but to live among them. The Welcome Home serves and builds community with residents of the North Point Douglas neighbourhood in Winnipeg by volunteering with local organizations, distributing meals, and offering regular activities to meet both the physical and spiritual needs of the community.

From Christian Horizons’ community living programs for people with disabilities to Ve’ahavta and Union Gospel Mission’s work developing relationships with people experiencing homelessness and social isolation, faith-based organizations have been building strong communities for all Canadians. To learn more about these initiatives, visit https://www.cardus.ca/research/law/diakonia-project/.