Development and Peace held its Orientation Assembly in Halifax this past June.
During this assembly, priorities for the organization were identified and discussed.
Read the document here:
Our diocese was represented by Darlene O’Leary and Kathy Gillis.
Darlene offers her perspective of the event and its discussions:
It was a great pleasure to participate in the Development and Peace Orientation Assembly held in Halifax in June. As a delegate representing the Antigonish Diocesan Council, along with co-delegate Kathy Gillis, it was a wonderful opportunity to be part of the organization’s visioning and planning. Given that Orientation Assemblies take place about every five years, it is a unique experience for delegates, members, staff, management, bishops, National Council, and partners to be together, hearing and learning from each other.
For many, this might have been the first time participating in an Orientation Assembly, and certainly, it was the first large gathering most of us have experienced since the start of the pandemic. This brought wonderful energy and excitement to the gathering. It was also very encouraging to hear from the youth of the movement, from the new Executive Director, Carl Hétu, and from the new National Council President, Brenda Arakaza. These new voices brought a sense of hope and optimism following what have been several challenging years for Development and Peace.
The event, starting on Thursday evening and ending Sunday at noon for most, included a range of speakers, panel discussions, and activities – along with some dancing! We discussed topics like renewing our movement through justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion. We heard about the global movement from partners and network representatives. And we were blessed to have Cardinal Michael Czerny with us for a keynote address and throughout the rest of the event, including a mass at the St. Mary’s Cathedral Basilica, where he concelebrated with several fellow bishops.
Delegates at the Orientation Assembly were tasked with discussing and deliberating on the orientations for the organization looking ahead. In this process, groups sitting together had a chance to discuss their positions on priorities and share these electronically with those compiling results. This process was a bit challenging, but there was some opportunity to speak as delegates from the floor to allow for important clarifications and amendments. It reinforced the importance of hearing from the voices of all delegates and participants. Of course, a great deal of work was done in advance to ensure that delegates were prepared, and diocesan councils had the information they would need to join in shaping the orientations.
As well, there was a need to have some challenging conversations to really look at how we live inclusivity, diversity, and equity. It was important and greatly appreciated that the organizers created a space for that discussion with the group following a situation at the event that required reflection and response. Further, it was clear that there remains a need to build trust again, following the partner review, which caused a great deal of damage to relationships with partners and members, who felt that the process was unfair and lacked transparency.
So, the Orientation Assembly was a very full event, with a lot of ground covered. It was also a wonderful gathering of people from across Canada and the globe who share in a commitment to solidarity and justice grounded in the Spirit living in and through us. To the organizers, staff, and hosts, we must share deep appreciation for the incredible work and time that went into this very rich and inspiring time together.