Peter Mentis is the diocese’s FaithWorks campaign manager.
FaithWorks is a charitable program of the Diocese of Toronto. We offer support to our ministry partners as they serve the needs of people who are Indigenous, homeless, hungry, at-risk women, children or youth, immigrants or refugees, or struggling with HIV/AIDS. We help them build communities of compassion and hope. As followers of Jesus, we offer new life. FaithWorks feeds, shelters, nurtures and befriends over 20,000 people in our communities and around the world every year.
I see my job as a ministry. It is to inspire and help people look further beyond themselves than they already do and extend a helping hand a little farther than they already do. As Christians, we understand that a core explanation and expression of Christ’s command to love one another is found in Matthew 25:31-46. I see FaithWorks as a way to channel our energies in response to this challenge and calling to love God and others. To this end, my responsibility is to provide vision by opening up and maintaining channels of communication between our donors (individuals and parishes) and our ministry partners and the people they serve. In this way, the voices of the vulnerable can be heard and their needs known, while the love of those who are able to give can be given expression. In this way, the work of the Holy Spirit is manifest.
2021 is the 25th anniversary of FaithWorks’ founding. The 25th anniversary campaign will focus on the people FaithWorks serves through our ministry partners. Over the past year, our ministry partners have interviewed a number of the people that they serve and obtained permission to share these stories with us. Those of us in more fortunate circumstances are often not aware of the struggles others endure to obtain the things we take for granted. For example, during these shutdowns due to the pandemic, even finding a washroom is a struggle for someone without shelter. There is also the shame and stigma that accompanies many challenges and situations in life. We are also often unaware of the struggles that the front-line workers of our ministry partners must endure to help those they serve. Offering food and shelter, protection and safety, friendship and counselling became much more difficult and expensive this past year of the pandemic. By telling these stories on our website and e-newsletter, I hope to express a vision for FaithWorks and inspire a response to our challenge and calling. During this 25th anniversary year, we will also reminisce on the history of FaithWorks and its founding.
As with everyone, we have shifted greater emphasis to online operations. Our website – faithworks.ca – is updated for the 25th anniversary. It is a focal point for anyone interested in FaithWorks’ mission. A visitor will be informed, inspired and enabled to help. FaithLines, our bi-weekly e-newsletter, continues to be a key channel for the exchange of information and inspiration between donors (individuals and parishes) and ministry partners and those they serve. It warms my heart to see the information and stories carried by this friendly reminder resulting in people being motivated to offer sleeping bags, tents, food, their time and labour to local ministry partners, as well as financial donations.
This has been a difficult year for so many people. Everyone feels a little more fragile and vulnerable. Yet so many people expressed their love of God and their neighbour through their generous donations to FaithWorks this past year. Many even went above and beyond their previous support. Phone conversations with donors, hearing their words of unwavering open-heartedness, have been so moving. Seeing people pull together, each according to their ability, for the common good and glory of God, has been inspiring. Being part of this outpouring of faith and love, witnessing the Holy Spirit work among us, is the best part of my ministry. In that light, and considering the good work FaithWorks renders to those who truly struggle, there is nothing difficult about my ministry. “For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matt. 11:30)
I was born and raised in Toronto. Upon finishing my undergraduate degree, I worked for a few years as an auditor for then Revenue Canada when it was located on Adelaide Street East, diagonally across from the Diocesan Centre. So I’m back in familiar haunts. I also studied for and worked as a landscape designer for a few interim years. For most of my life, 25 years, I was the parish priest of the Greek Orthodox Church in Mississauga. It was the challenge of a lifetime as we gathered a scattered flock, developed a wide variety of programming and built the new church complex, by the Grace of God. I began worshipping at St. James’ Cathedral just over six years ago.
Five years from now, I hope to still be the FaithWorks campaign manager. I am finding great personal satisfaction in this role. I also see further potential for growth, in FaithWorks and me.
My favourite passage from scripture is Psalm 23. I know the Lord is watching over me. I need to keep listening for Jesus’ voice, like a sheep. I am reminded of standing at the hospital bedside of a pious and faithful woman, Anastasia, many, many years ago. She was gasping for her last breaths as her battle with cancer was nearing its end. She told me she wasn’t worried. She simply saw herself as a sheep following her Shepherd wherever He led. That moment still moves and inspires me.