Bob McKeon

Bob McKeon

September 12, 2016

Living out the call to justice is central, not only to Christian discipleship, but also to parish life, Bob McKeon said at a Aug. 27 retreat for the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace (CCODP).

The speaker for the day-long retreat, McKeon, former coordinator of social justice for the Edmonton Archdiocese, said much depends on the size of the parish, its ethnic makeup and the priest.

"Living out our call to justice is part of our Christian discipleship, our Christian life, and it is a central part of the parish, central to the archdiocese," he told 27 people at the retreat at Newman Theological College.

"In Canada, living out our call to justice needs to include participating with Development and Peace. And Development and Peace needs to engage in the parishes if they are to live out their God-given role."

McKeon noted the evolvement of the Church into a global voice. Today's Church leaders include Pope Francis from Argentina, Cardinal Peter Turkson from Ghana, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of the Philippines, and Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga of Honduras, president of Caritas International.

McKeon also documented the growth of CCODP through its 50 years.

He underlined the evolution of the social justice group to the present day and its current role in advocacy in such areas as mining, sweat shops, ecology and climate change.

A member of Development and Peace since 1974, McKeon said Catholic social justice is an essential part of Catholic doctrinal plus moral teaching. "It is also our best kept secret."

McKeon drew some of his thoughts from Pope Francis' apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel).

A real challenge for Development and Peace in the archdiocese and its parishes is a lack of continuity and partners, he said. Audience members suggested Development and Peace overcome those deficiencies by developing working relationships with parish councils.

McKeon said that there are four types of parishioners in relation to Development and Peace: those converted to the cause; those who are concerned and who care but don't know how to put their care into action; those who know about Development and Peace but don't care; finally, "the brick wall," those who don't know and don't care about the organization.

Participants were urged to educate themselves and others through websites, bulletins and pamphlets.


Suggestions were also made for various ways to communicate with parishes, such as by working with students in schools, universities and colleges.

Conversation among the group focused on the need to make contact with parish priests, especially if they come from other countries and have not had previous contact with CCODP.

This flow of information could benefit Development and Peace members themselves. The group also suggested that retreat participants meet with each other throughout the year to exchange information and ideas