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Longtime Communitas Member Tom Gero has died

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Photo of Tom GeroTom Gero was a much-loved member of Communitas.  We learned recently that he passed away two weeks ago after a short illness.

Tom had been a member of Communitas from back in the day when we were still called Montreal Southwest Community Ministries (MSCM).  He was a faithful participant at both Open Door and Table Talk – when Table Talk was held at our offices at Notre Dame.  Tom would arrive early for Open Door and make sure that the coffee was ready for when people started showing up.  At Table Talk, he had his special chair in the corner that everyone knew was ‘Tom’s chair.’  There he would sit, sometimes appearing to be asleep as the hubbub of Table Talk took place around him.

Although he was a very quiet person, Tom had many friends – and a sly sense of humour.     His understated but warm personality drew people to him, and even in the times when he was going through especially hard times, friends and even strangers would stop by to talk with him, bring him food or money and generally show him love.  We even heard that someone placed a chair outside a Provigo he was known to frequent so that he could be more comfortable.

His friends at Communitas will miss him greatly.

Rest in Peace, Tom.

 

Communitas Annual Appeal 2022

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COMMUNITAS ANNUAL APPEAL
November 1, 2022

To our dear friends and supporters!

2022 is almost over, and Communitas has much to report on.  On the staffing front, we said goodbye to Monika, our Coordinator, and Brent, our part-time Coordinator for Circles of Support and Accountability (CoSA), as funding for the five-year CoSA project ended in 2021, and the Ministry of Public Safety has decided not to continue to fund this Canada-wide programme.

Open Door – our signature program has gone from strength to strength with the Hybrid model of Zoom, plus in-person attendance, becoming the norm.  As we have experimented over the months with mics and mixer boards for optimal sound quality, we think that we have finally struck a happy balance where everyone – in-person or remote, can enjoy a quality experience of Open Door.

In-person participation has been particularly rewarding as we see more and more men attending who were unable to access on Zoom and are now happily taking part again at Open Door and even spreading the word to others. In addition, with the prisons now easing up on their Covid restrictions, Open Door now has a maximum of 5 men on Escorted Temporary Absences (ETA) attending the meeting three times a month from the two Minimum Security Prisons – Montée Saint Francois and Ste-Anne-des-Plaines.  These outings have been made possible by our volunteer escort drivers, who have stepped up to help, and we are very pleased to say that two new escort drivers are currently being trained, which will allow Communitas to do even more.

Another great success marking 2022 has been the resumption of Table Talk – our weekly Friday lunch and conversation activity, which now takes place in our new premises at the Undercroft.  It started small in June 2022 with some 8 attendees and has now grown to the point that all our tables were filled last week with 19 persons having lunch.  Volunteers have again stepped up to prepare the food.  Somewhat like Open Door, you never know what to expect – it’s an enjoyable surprise!

In other good news, more and more of our volunteers have been certified by the Correctional Service of Canada and are now able to participate in Chapel visits. The enjoyment of both inmates and volunteers continues to be expressed to the Chaplains at the two institutions, and as one noted recently – the number of men attending is steady or rising – which is always a good sign.

Other prison visits continue to take place as we are offering one-on-one pastoral accompaniment to the men during their incarceration. This is also an opportunity to identify men wishing to have a Circle of Support and Accountability (CoSA) when they are released.

As we start our annual fundraising drive, Communitas welcomes your donations for our activities and appeals for your support.  This is particularly relevant at this time given the loss of funding in 2021 from the Government and from Montreal Community Chaplaincy (ACM) – our other historical source of funds – leaving us wholly dependent on donations received from our members, supporters and the general public.

Donors are invited to contribute to Communitas through the Canada Helps Donate button on our website www.communitasmontreal.org. Cheques are also welcome and can be mailed to the new Communitas office address, 1444 Union Avenue, Montreal, H3A 2B8, QC. We also encourage you to become a monthly contributor to our Organization. This will assist with our long-term planning.  Charitable receipts will be issued for all donations over $20.00.

We would like to express our heartfelt thanks to all members, supporters and well-wishers for your financial and moral support, without which our work could not succeed.


Michele Rattray-Huish, President
Mouvement Communitas Inc.

Help Support Table Talk

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It’s already been more than three months since Communitas restarted its Table Talk activity since being shut down in March 2020 as a result of the Covid Pandemic.  A lot has changed.  Firstly we moved from our previous location in St. Henri and relocated to our new office space in the Undercroft on St. Catherine Street.  The change has had its positives and negatives – we are more central in downtown Montreal – right on the McGill metro line – and our new space is larger – but without access to the outdoors – sorry smokers!

So far, it has been going very well – we have received on average 11 persons attending the lunch each Friday – with a high of 14 people, with lots of regulars and some drop-ins.

The food has been fantastic – including Torrin’s vegetarian specialty, Peter’s Chilaquille, Marlyn’s lentils and rice delight, Rosalie’s meatloaf dish and Michele’s Jamaican chicken.  In addition to these gifts, we have also enjoyed pizza, lasagna, chicken pot pie, hamburgers, and it goes on.  All complemented by salads, coffee and juices.

Let us not forget the delicious desserts on offer every week – again mostly brought by those arriving to share in the Table Talk – from chocolate truffles to

pies, homemade cakes, chocolate cupcakes, Italian biscuits, donuts and cinnamon buns – the array has been breathtaking. Last but by no means least are the ubiquitous potato chips of every possible flavour.

The talk in Table Talk has also been instructive.  Most Fridays, we observe the usual chit-chat and catching up that people partake in as they move from table to table to chat, depending on who is sitting where and who has just come in.  At other times, however, we have had occasion to have short group discussions depending on what was happening in the world – eg. The death of Queen Elizabeth; Orange Shirt Day; what it meant to us to restart Table Talk after more than two years…

 

As you might be able to tell, things are moving along at a nice pace – last week, another ex-prisoner dropped in, having heard we were back – and brought a friend.

We continue to slowly build this activity back up and invite anyone wishing to support its expense to donate the $40 (on average) needed to provide one weekly meal to get in touch or simply donate to Communitas via our Canada Helps donate button in the link below.  You can indicate in the description that the donation is to provide one Table Talk Meal.

https://communitasmontreal.org/donate/

Your support for Communitas, whether financial or otherwise, is always welcomed.

Communitas

Sex offender post-incarceration program imperilled

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Friday, October 07, 2022

By Eileen Henderson and Cliff Yumansky

The Lawyer’s Daily

CoSA (circles of support and accountability) is a pan-Canadian, community-based organization whose mission is to substantially reduce the risk of future sexual victimization of community members. CoSA assists persons released from prison after being convicted of a sexual offence who want support in reintegrating with the community and leading responsible, productive and accountable lives.

Read the full article here: https://www.thelawyersdaily.ca/criminal/articles/40258

Communitas needs your valued support!

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Communitas logoAnyone who attended our Annual General Meeting last May will have heard the news that our funding for the past 5 years from the Ministry of Public Safety has come to an end.

At the same time our historical financial support from Aumonerie Communitaire de Montreal (ACM) has
also been cut as the Correctional Services of Canada (CSC) decided to stop funding Community
Chaplaincy.

As these were our only recurrent sources of funding, it has left us in the position of depending on
donations from our membership and the general public.

The Communitas Board of Directors is of course actively seeking other possible means of stable financial
support, however we would like to encourage any and all support from our members at this time of
uncertainty.

In addition to our annual funding drive in December, we receive sporadic donations from individuals
who come across our work and decide to support it, or who hear about us from friends and/or family
and like what we are doing.

I would like to propose that anyone who wishes to increase their financial support to Communitas do so
by becoming a monthly supporter via our Canada Helps account.

https://communitasmontreal.org/donate/

It could be signing up to donate as little as $5 per month. The fact that it is monthly would allow us to
know in advance how much we can count on. Already we have five (5) donors who have independently
decided to contribute in this way, and it is a big help.

In case you are wondering what practical things your funding would support, we have restarted our
Open Door and Table Talk programs inperson, and so are again spending to purchase food and drinks
after a hiatus due to Covid lock downs. We also have our recurrent costs for rent and
telecommunications although both of these have been considerably reduced with our move last year
to new offices in the Undercroft of Christ Church Cathedral.

Last but by no means least are the cost of our 2 parttime staff members without whom we would not
be able to accomplish as much.

Our deep gratitude to all the many persons who are already giving generously of their time and their
money to support our work, and be assured that we have already made it through 22 years and will
make it through this hardship as well with your help.

Michele,
President, Communitas

Table Talk is back on the Communitas menu of activities

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Communitas is very pleased to announce that after 2 1/2 years, Table Talk returned Friday, June 17 – albeit at a new site in our offices at the Undercroft.

A small gathering of some ten persons enjoyed a lunch of pizza, salad, cinnamon rolls and doughnuts, with tea, coffee and juices, and lots and lots of conversation.

We welcomed first-timers to Table Talk together with people not seen in the years since COVID shut the Friday lunchtime activity down, and oldtimers seen every week at Open Door.

The new space worked well – with a more spacious kitchen in which to work, and we look forward greatly to welcoming others in the weeks to come.

Table Talk won’t be held during the long weekends of St. Jean Baptiste and Canada Day, but will be back the following Friday, July 8, from 12 noon to 1.30 pm. Send an email to communications@communitasmontreal.org if you plan to attend.

All are welcome!

Open Door – From the Inside Out – A book celebrating 20 years

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Communitas celebrated  20 years of Open Door with the publication of a book entitled Open Door: From the Inside Out, which contains more than 100 interviews with a variety of people who have attended Open Door over the 20 years, as well as other articles and photographs that illustrate this unique activity.

The book is available for purchase for $20 (softcover version) or $35 (hardcover version). Send an email requesting the book to Opendoor@communitasmontreal.org. Payment may be made using our online donation page: https://communitasmontreal.org/donate/.