Columns

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Bob McKeon

Church-indigenous relations on verge of historic change

Bob McKeon
August 29, 2016

A couple of weeks ago, I participated in an important conference in Winnipeg. The annual Directions in Indigenous Ministry conference is co-sponsored by the standing committee on indigenous affairs of the Assembly of Western Catholic Bishops and Newman Theological College. The title of the conference was Decolonizing Pastoral Ministry. This title is significant because it implies that a decolonization approach itself needs to be taken in pastoral ministry and in the life of the Church itself. About 60 of us participated, about half indigenous and half non-indigenous. People came from very different church roles, including bishops, pastors, deacons, women and men religious, elders, diocesan staff, parish lay leaders, teachers, academics, and committed individuals.

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Parishes challenged to live justice in their own neighbourhoods

Bob McKeon
July 25, 2016

Last month, I was invited to speak about social justice at the annual meeting of an Edmonton Catholic parish. I started my preparation for this presentation by looking up the parish boundaries. Then I went to the City of Edmonton website and checked out the different neighbourhoods that fall within the parish boundaries. Then I went back again to the city website and searched for the "neighbourhood profiles" for each of the parish neighbourhoods.

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Pope's ecological spirituality provides grist for reflection

Bob McKeon
June 27, 2016

This month we celebrate the first anniversary of the publication of Pope Francis' encyclical Laudato Si'. Over the past year, I have had the privilege of being part of many conversations about this ground-breaking encyclical with different Catholic, ecumenical and interfaith groups. In most discussions, attention is focused on the headline issues such as paying for costs associated with climate change, shifting away from fossil fuels to renewables, impact on poor communities and countries, and criticizing the functioning of global capitalism.

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Churches played key role in Gainers' strike

Bob McKeon
May 30, 2016

A couple of weeks ago I attended an event at the Alberta Provincial Archives commemorating the 30th anniversary of the Edmonton Gainers' Strike. This bitter strike, which went on for more than six months and put more than 1,000 employees on a picket line, is still remembered by those involved, including many in Edmonton area churches. The strike began June 1, 1986. This was a time of economic recession in Alberta with high unemployment and reduced government social supports.

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Divergent voices offer climate change strategies

Bob McKeon
May 2, 2016

A couple of weeks ago I attended the annual Social Justice Institute (SJI) in Edmonton. The theme was Care for Our Common Home: A Faithful Response to Today's Ecological and Social Crisis. It was an extended ecumenical reflection on Pope Francis' encyclical Laudato Si'. The main speaker was Jennifer Henry, the executive director of the KAIROS national ecumenical justice coalition.

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Will compassion for refugees open our hearts to all in need?

Bob McKeon
April 4, 2016

The desperate situation of many refugees has been in the media now for several months. The numbers are overwhelming. The image of the body of a three-year-old boy on a Mediterranean beach caught people's hearts and spirits around the world. Supported by widespread public concern, the newly-elected Liberal federal government acted quickly on its campaign promise, expediting refugee processing times, and rapidly increased the number of Syrian refugees arriving in Canada.

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Pope Francis backed Ruiz's ministry to the indigenous

Bob McKeon
March 7, 2016

Pope Francis' recent six-day visit to Mexico provided strong social justice messages. His visit to San Cristobal de las Casas in Chiapas, focusing on respect for the contribution of indigenous peoples in the Church and the wider society, had special meaning for many in Canada. Chiapas is one of the poorest states in Mexico. Indigenous peoples comprise over a third of the population of Chiapas and have suffered a long history of social exclusion, overt racism, environmental harm and violence.

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Church develops innovative solution for aging building

Bob McKeon
February 8, 2016

Twice over the past five years, 25 faith community leaders have come together through the Capital Region Housing Initiative to sign a public statement expressing their support for Edmonton's 10 Year Plan to End Homelessness. In this statement, the faith leaders committed their faith communities "to find new and creative ways . . . to address the issues of homelessness and affordable housing in our communities." The churches and faith communities signing this statement have found different ways to put the words of this public commitment into action over the past five years.

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National inquiry into missing indigenous women a local issue

Bob McKeon
January 11, 2016

Last month Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the establishment of a national inquiry to investigate the disproportionate number of missing and murdered indigenous women and girls in Canada. This public inquiry had been requested by many across the country. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission in its Final Report explicitly mentioned such a public inquiry in its Calls to Action.

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Sister left lasting legacy in inner city

Bob McKeon
December 21, 2015

I am now at an age where I regularly read the obituary notices in the Edmonton Journal each morning looking for familiar names. Last month I saw the obituary notice for Sister Mary Leo Kirwin, a Sister of St. Joseph, who died in London, Ont., at the age of 93. The obituary notice took me back over 30 years when we served together on a community board in the first years of the Edmonton Inner City Housing Society (EICHS).

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