Regional CCODP animator Sara Michel shares a lighter moment with a member at the social justice group's annual meeting.

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Regional CCODP animator Sara Michel shares a lighter moment with a member at the social justice group's annual meeting.

May 7, 2012
PAT ACHESON
SPECIAL TO THE WCR

GRANDE PRAIRIE – Edmonton Archbishop Richard Smith has expressed his support for the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace at what he called a critical point in its history.

The challenges faced by CCODP through online commentaries and cuts in federal funding calls the organization to remain ever-faithful to its mission, Smith told the April 20-22 Alberta/NWT annual regional assembly of Development and Peace.

COMMON FAITH

"As we continue to grow and evolve and remain faithful, that integrity becomes the answer," he said. "What draws us all together? It is common faith and the teaching of the Church. Work with the leadership of the Church to make this (unity) happen."

The 62 people from across the province at the assembly heard presentations from Smith, Grouard-McLennan Archbishop Gerard Pettipas, CCODP executive director Michael Casey and regional animator Sara Michel.

We are grateful for Smith's assistance and good counsel. He filled our weekend cups to the brim through his invitation to dialogue.

We want the organization to continue; we want it to grow so we need to dialogue and dialogue we did.

WINDS OF CHANGE

Those who attended the assembly held at St. Joseph's Church were grounded by the archbishop's reminder of the mission of Development and Peace as well as being stirred by winds of rejuvenating change.

Pettipas said that being in solidarity with others involves conversion. "We have to change to be in solidarity with others because we will encounter ways of existing that are not our own."

Love helps to draw a person out of him or herself, he said. "If you persevere in serving other people, your fear will decrease as your love increases. Fear is dark and Jesus is light and the light dispels the darkness."

The dialogue and discussion among the participants was spirited, inclusive and reflected the democratic nature of Development and Peace as a grassroots organization. Diocesan member councils are engaged in free-flowing, inclusive and informed decision making and their recommendations go to the national council in the form of resolutions.

This was the first time for many years, if ever, that Grouard-McLennan had hosted the assembly.

Next year's event will be held in Edmonton.