Dr. Robert McKeon

Dr. Robert McKeon

June 29, 2015
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER

EDMONTON – Longtime Catholic activist Dr. Robert McKeon has received dual honours prior to his imminent retirement as social justice coordinator with the Edmonton Archdiocese.

McKeon has been named professor emeritus by Newman Theological College where he has taught full and part-time since 1979.

A full professor of theology, McKeon has also assumed many leadership roles at the college, including director of field education, vice-dean of theology and acting dean of theology.

He continues to teach at Newman College as well as advising the institution on matters of social justice, the Church in Canada and Aboriginal concerns.

The honour of professor emeritus will be conferred on him at the college's 2015 convocation on Oct. 17.

The honour is a mark of distinguished service awarded to only a few professors upon retirement, mainly those who achieved great importance in their profession, according to a college press release.

McKeon also recently received the Rev. Marilyn McClung Memorial Award for Ecumenism from the Edmonton and District Council of Churches.

McKeon received the award at the council's June 7 annual meeting.

The award honours McKeon for more than 35 years of community and Church involvement in Edmonton's inner city where he has been involved in addressing issues of poverty, health, hunger, housing, and community and economic development.

McKeon, 68, will retire from his work with the archdiocese at the end of June.

Two years ago, he received the prestigious Msgr. Bill Irwin Award of Excellence from Catholic Social Services that is given annually to someone who has lived up to the values of Irwin's ministry of meeting the needs of the poor and disadvantaged.

OUTSTANDING SERVICE

In 2000, the City of Edmonton presented McKeon with one of its highest recognitions for individuals who have contributed to the city's quality of life – a citation award for outstanding community service.

For more than 35 years McKeon and his family have lived at Innroads Housing Co-op, one of several affordable housing initiatives he helped launch over the years.

He was a leader in launching the Inner City Housing Society in the early 1980s, helped establish the Edmonton Food Bank and was also one of the brains behind the Edmonton Community Land Trust, another affordable housing cooperative.

CHURCH AND NEIGHBOURHOOD

McKeon has been involved with the ecumenical Inner City Pastoral Ministry, committees in the McCauley neighbourhood, including those addressing issues of homelessness, and many groups committed to the Church's teaching on justice.

Those groups include the Good Friday Way of the Cross and the Salvadoran community which annually celebrates the death of Blessed Oscar Romero.

He has also written a monthly column for the WCR on social justice issues for more than five years.

McKeon served as the archdiocese's first director of its Social Justice Commission from 1977 to 1989, leaving to earn his doctorate of theology at the University of Toronto.

In late 2008, McKeon rejoined the staff of the archdiocese as its part-time associate director of social justice.