Changing demographics a challenge for D&P

By 
  • January 8, 2009
{mosimage}OTTAWA - The biggest challenge the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace faces is “growing the movement,” says its new national council chair.

Demographics are changing and the Catholic population is “aging and diminishing,” said Pat Hogan, who was elected in December.

The retired junior high school principal, who has worked the past six years as a financial planner, is from St. John’s, Nfld. He will serve a two-year term as chair of the 22-member council that operates like a board of directors for the Canadian Catholic Church’s official overseas development arm.

Development and Peace will be reaching out to “non-traditional constituents” such as “Catholics who do not go to church regularly but share similar values,” Hogan said. The organization hopes to expand beyond its present 13,000 members.

Hogan identified youth as another big constituency. The council has two youth representatives as well as a program for attracting younger members. In addition to bishops representing the French and English sectors, the council is made of regional representatives from across Canada. It operates like a board of directors, he said.

Hogan joined Development and Peace in 1996 and soon became president of the local group in St. John’s. He was then elected to represent his region on national council where he has served for the past four years.

When he was a young teacher, Hogan went overseas through CUSO (Canadian University Service Overseas) to work as a teacher in Zambia for two years. It was in East Africa that he saw his first leper, first saw people living in extreme poverty and saw how people live and work in the global south. 

“It was quite a revelation,” he said. It’s there where he was “bitten by the bug” that gave him a passion for social justice and Third World issues.

As a teacher that interest continued as he taught religion, history and social studies. 

“Many times these issues came up, and I could speak from personal experience,” he said.

Canada’s Catholic bishops founded Development and Peace 40 years ago to be the church’s official development agency. Last year Development and Peace sent $11.2 million toward 234 development projects and $4.7 million for 43 emergency relief situations.

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