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Thanks to you, FOCUS Minnesota Ministers to the Lonely this Thanksgiving Dinner



Freezing rain greeted everyone on his or her way to church Sunday morning the 21st. Emails began coming in before noon to ask if we were still going to have a FOCUS meal.  We were indeed, and by 3:00pm all the turkey and fixings were on their way to our Center. This being Thanksgiving week, we were fixing a traditional meal, and we didn’t want to disappoint any of our neighbors who would be coming despite the weather.  Good thing because 42 volunteers served 110 meals! The Orthodox faithful in the Twin Cities take our shared ministry to heart. There was such a wonderful spirit in the kitchen, among the servers (special thanks to our local Teen/SOYO group) and in the dining room where free shoes and boots were still made available to our guests.

It would be true to say that there were a lot of happy people at our FOCUS meal this week, but also, unsurprisingly, we’re seeing extreme loneliness. Holidays are also the times when those struggling with poverty, addiction, joblessness, etc. are so achingly lonely. Our friend Stan, who hasn’t worked in 20 years because of a brain injury and has been on Social Security benefits, came in to eat. He is fortunate to have a home, but he lives there all alone, no family, and can’t take in any boarders because it would upset the fine balance of his benefits. One of our wonderful volunteers, Deacon Paul, noticed him sitting alone at a table just weeping quietly while eating. Stan says he doesn’t want things for himself, that his own needs are few and simply met (though he didn’t have a shirt on under a zip-up hoodie); he talked about the “system,” the church, God and problems with alcohol but in the end he asked with tears in his eyes, “What’s the point of getting up in the morning?” What Stan was really saying was, “I am so alone, I’m so lonely, and I just wish I had someone to connect with.” We at FOCUS MN grow each day in the understanding that God has mercifully blessed us to serve His creation.


Fr. Justin at Holy Resurrection Serbian Orthodox Cathedral in Chicago


Click here to read the article from the church website.

Below a photo gallery from the trip.


Save the Date! FOCUS NA at Saint Katherine College


50256_114279268591309_5886_nSaint Katherine College ( is a new Orthodox Christian college of liberal arts and sciences based in Encinitas, California. Classes will begin in September 2011. The College is service oriented and all students will participate in a variety of  service and service-learning opportunities throughout their education including volunteering with the newly established FOCUS San Diego efforts. Like FOCUS NA, SKC seeks to encourage a life-long orientation toward helping those most in need.

Fr. Justin Mathews, Executive Director and CEO of FOCUS North America, will present a lecture the week of Aug. 29th, 2011 on this topic during the College Inaugural.

See FOCUS North America's video on the SKC web site and learn more about SKC's approach to Faith and Service at:

Fortyeight hours of my life


YES! Youth Equipped to Serve

Fortyeight Hours of My Life

In the very first book of the Bible we find out that we are made in God’s image and likeness. But what does this mean in practical terms – how can we learn to see God in the people we meet in our day-to-day life? What does it mean for us, who live in the present day and not 2,000 years ago in Palestine, to do the Gospel’s work? “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Imagine yourself in the biggest city near you. What draws your attention first – the flashing billboards, the shop windows, the restaurants? Take your eye down and see the different people crossing the street, those who sit motionless, those in need of help. God wants us to notice the people made in His image. YES North America offers to youth the chance to learn how to do this by actually going out and doing it. Read More


Thanks to You, FOCUS OC is Launching its Weekly Meals



Starting in November every Sunday FOCUS Orange County will be serving meals at the Valencia Motel in Anaheim.

Visit the FOCUS Orange County Website at to sign up to help or to find out more information on this new and exciting ministry.


Generous Donations Provide Hope for the Needy in St. Louis


GTWC-4Our Seniors in the City work program at FOCUS Gateway City continues to thrive because of your generous gifts. Once a month we help seniors do much needed repairs on their homes. This allows them to stay independent and comfortable in familiar surroundings for as long as possible, even when age and illness would keep them from basic, though much needed, maintenance. Through the Seniors in the City program, we met Mr. Jones, a gentleman in his 80’s who was one of the first African Americans to move in to his neighborhood in the 1970s. At Mr. Jones’ house we were able to fix several broken windows that were exposing him to the elements. He told us how blessed he was to get such help.GTWC-1

Also we continue to reach out to people who come to our weekly meals.  There we’ve met a boy, Jackson, who comes to the meals with his mother. Originally from Haiti, they have made their home in the St.Louis area, still dealing with the trauma and upheaval caused by the earthquake earlier this year. For Jackson and the other kids who attend our meals with their families, we have been able to provide them with school supplies to start them off with the tools they need to cope at school. Your gifts continue to allow FOCUS Gateway City to reach out and give hope to people like Mr. Jones and Jackson.


FOCUS Minnesota Blessed by Visit from Metropolitan Jonah


met-j-and-vAn unexpected, but welcome, development since FOCUS Minnesota moved into our space on E. Lake Street - the Orthodox community has begun to treat the Center as a destination spot! On Sunday October 3, 2010 about a dozen people from St. Mary's Cathedral (OCA), paid a visit to FOCUS Minnesota to learn more about our shared ministry and plans for the future. This was organized by the "O" Club from the parish who provided refreshments while I had the opportunity to raise awareness in a small-group setting. As this visit happened to coincide with the OCA Midwest Diocesan Assembly, we were very honored and pleasantly surprised to receive His Beatitude Metropolitan Jonah of the Orthodox Church in America and his deacon Fr. Gregory in our midst. We toured the space, spent a good hour together exchanging ideas and he is exceedingly supportive of our work. Glory to God for all good things!


Fr. Justin Speaks at the Institute of Orthodox Life and Spirituality



The Weekend of October 23rd and 24th St. Michael Orthodox Christian Church and the St. Columba of Iona Orthodox Monastery hosted Fr. Justin Matthews, executive Director of FOCUS North America.  Fr. Justin was invited as part of a new initiative of the monastery and parish, the Institute of Orthodox Life and Spirituality.
On Saturday, Fr. Justin made a presentation to an attentive group in the parish hall on the necessity of working with and supporting the working poor.  Fr. Justin served the Divine Liturgy with Fr. Peter Preble, pastor of the parish and preached the sermon continuing the theme he laid out on Saturday.
After Liturgy, Fr. Justin met with Mr. Walter Haddad, president of the Council of Eastern Orthodox Churches of Worcester for a tour of the Holy Trinity Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, a project of the Council.  After the tour Fr. Justin, Fr. Peter and Mr. Haddad had a discussion of how FOCUS could help support the existing programs of Council Churches.

On Monday a brief meeting with area clergy was held before Fr. Justin left to return to Kansas City.

When asked about the conference Fr. Peter had this to say, “We are very grateful for the work of FOCUS and thankful for Fr. Justin giving of his time to come and spread the good news of all that FOCUS is doing for the working poor.”


Visit Fr. Peter’s blog about Fr. Justin’s visit at


FOCUS North America Featured in the Latest Issue of the Word Magazine


focus-word-sept-2010FOCUS North America is featured in the September 2010 Word magazine. The emphasis is on our feeding ministries.  Click here to read the article.



August 18, 2010, on the eve of the feast of the Transfiguration of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, His Eminence +Christopher, Metropolitan of Libertyville-Chicago, fell asleep in the Lord.

Funeral arrangements are forthcoming.

May His memory be eternal! 


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