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Orientation Assembly generates new roadmap for creating hope for the future

MONTREAL, June 21, 2022 – Development and Peace ― Caritas Canada concluded its Orientation Assembly on June 19, 2022. President Brenda Arakaza said, “After four intense days of listening, learning, sharing, daring, laughing and crying, we have been guided by the Holy Spirit to create a clear roadmap for ourselves. This will help Development and Peace keep fighting for a world of justice and peace.”

Delegates at the assembly in Halifax, N.S., included Development and Peace members; the national council and national members; youth representatives; staff; bishops; Church leaders; and representatives from international partner organizations and sister groups. Under the theme, Create Hope, they reflected on our organization’s general direction and themes for the next five years.

Their deliberations were inspired and guided by distinguished guests, including the keynote speaker, His Eminence Michael Cardinal Czerny, SJ; the Hon. Graydon Nicholas, CM, ONB, former Lieutenant Governor of New Brunswick; Aloysius John, general secretary of Caritas Internationalis; Sr. Jean Bellini of the Pastoral Land Commission; and Dr. Isaac Asume Osuoka, director of the Social Development Integrated Centre (Social Action). Some of their presentations were streamed live.

In his keynote address, Czerny characterized synodality as “the verb of the Church―how it lives and moves” and a universal call. “If the world does not learn to walk synodally, it’s not going to do a good job solving the huge problems that we have.” Walking together is not, the cardinal said, “just a way of ‘being Church,’ it will also finally be a way of ‘being world,’ the world that God created for us all.”

The Hon. Graydon Nicholas, a Catholic Indigenous Elder, lawyer, judge, social worker and activist, drew on his experience of overcoming embitterment and surmounting challenges encountered, to reflect on what genuine reconciliation might mean and how it could be worked toward.

This “drove home the role D&P can play to promote reconciliation with Indigenous peoples,” for Ontario youth member Aloysius Wong, who added, “The work we do to educate youth through our schools program gives us a unique opportunity to shape the conversation on reconciliation for years to come.”

Other presentations and panels touched upon sustaining hope and commitment to the movement; inclusivity and diversity; youth engagement; fundraising; expanding the reach and effectiveness of campaigning; the work of partner and ally organizations in Brazil, Nigeria, Europe and the Middle East; and the role of women and the barriers to their participation and empowerment.

Claude Berthiaume of the francophone diocesan council of Sudbury in the Diocese of Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., said, “I was very touched by the presentation of the panel on women’s empowerment. It made me see that the encounters between Jesus and women represent the most beautiful stories of the Gospel.”

A consensus emerged among delegates around involving young people. Berthiaume said, “One thing I keep in mind and think about a lot is the importance of supporting young people. Even though we have often organised activities for young people in my parish, I now see that I can invite them to sit on our diocesan council.”

Wong said, “I believe us youth were able to demonstrate how we are not only the future of the movement, but also the present. We hope that D&P will be able to create the structural changes and supports necessary to allow us to lead the movement into the next generation.”

Delegates discussed and proposed orientation statements in the light of the workshops and panels and in furtherance of the pre-assembly consultations. On the last day, delegates vigorously debated and voted on the orientation statements and their associated priorities, to finally select the following:

  • Renew the movement
    • Be a prophetic witness of Catholic Social Teaching in our communities and in the world
    • Prioritize the youth movement
    • Strengthen our democratic structures
  • Living synodality
    • Walk together as the Church in Canada
    • Walk together in our local and global networks
    • Walk together with social movements for structural change
  • Integral communities for integral ecology
    • Climate and ecological justice
    • Women’s rights and leadership
    • Strong civil society
    • A triple nexus approach
    • Our role in reconciliation

To conclude, Arakaza said, “I would like to thank our delegates and all the people who made this Orientation Assembly a success, who are too many to mention.”

A final Orientation Assembly document synthesizing the consultations and discussions and elaborating on the orientations and priorities will be disseminated in the coming weeks.

A fuller account of the Orientation Assembly can be found at facebook.com/devpeace.

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About Development and Peace

Development and Peace — Caritas Canada is the official international development organization of the Catholic Church in Canada. It works in partnership with local organizations in over 30 countries in Africa, Asia, Latin American and the Middle East to create greater justice in the world and to act in solidarity with the most vulnerable people.

For more information, contact:

Minaz Kerawala
Communications and Public Relations Advisor
Development and Peace ― Caritas Canada
514 257-8710 ext. 328 | mkerawala@devp.org

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