The Year 1990: The Uncertain 90s

Five years on we reach the Uncertain Nineties – a new decade of much promise and peril. In 1990 the old ‘world order’ is crumbling and a so-called ‘new world order’ supposedly is emerging. In Canada Prime Minister Mulroney’s government is in its second term. Constitutional renewal based on a Meech Lake agreement is heading for failure.

Fr. Gerald Curry again is editor of Scarboro Missions. Subscriptions are $5 annually.

There are 36,000 subscribers. “Creation Spirituality” was the main theme of the first 1990 issue. Sr. Anne Lonergan, RC, began a three-part series. Fr. Bob Ogle’s guest editorial declared: “I believe that our culture misread the Biblical story, and the care that our Creator demanded became the abuse of creation. I feel that a new acceptance of the ‘gospel of Genesis’ is a key to any turnaround.” Other contributors to this ecological theme included Mark Hathaway, lay missioner in Peru, and Rene Fumoleau, OMI missionary and supporter of the Dene Nation in the Northwest Territories.

Other global themes explored in succeeding editions included the debt, crisis in the Third World, “Third World Solidarity Day”, and “Interfaith Dialogue”, which presented an interview with Professor Ovey N. Mohammed, SJ. “Not only can people from different religions pray together, they can also teach each other how to pray better,” he said. Paul McKenna wrote on “Understanding Hinduism” and Toronto teacher Ted Schmidt contributed a two-part article on “Education for Justice”.

One issue was devoted to “Scarboro in Japan”. A dozen Scarboro members shared mission experiences and insights. They included Frs. Dave Fitzpatrick, Cleary Villeneuve, Ben Schultz, James Gauthier, Alex McDonald, John Bolger, Thomas Morrissey, Edgar Geier, and Don Boyle, who coordinated the issue. By 1990 a total of 32 members had served in Japan, including the current editor.

The June issue honoured the memory of Fr. Art MacKinnon on the 25th anniversary of his martyrdom in the Dominican Republic. Monsignor Robert Hymus summarized the 47-year Scarboro presence in the island republic, where 62 members had served in past years. Eight Scarboro missioners, including Monsignor Hymus, were serving there in 1990. More highlights:

  • In noting social injustices abroad and at home, the editor deplored “the apathy of middleclass Canadian Catholics who seem to settle for anything so long as it does not affect or hurt them… Our God is not a fence-sitter. God does not accept the evil of hunger or homelessness or injustice or oppression. God has clearly taken a stand. Have you?”
  • Scarboro missioner Bishop George Marskell decried reckless development projects in Brazil’s Amazonia. “These mega-projects – dams, roads, lumbering, gold and tin mining, predatory fishing – are violent forms of aggression against nature. They destroy rain forests, pollute the atmosphere, poison rivers and destroy entire populations.”
  • Tom Walsh, coordinator of Scarboro’s Department of Lay Association, described 12 years of mission life he, his wife Julia and children had experienced in Peru and Panama.
  • Fr. Joe Curcio, now retired, dedicated a tribute to Canada’s first citizens to Bernadette, an Native child of five who had asked him, “What you no talk Chipewyan?”

As well in 1990, as a new member of the Canadian Church Press, an ecumenical group of over 70 Christian publications in Canada, Scarboro Missions won recognition among colleagues at the annual Church Press convention.

It’s noteworthy that the Society’s mandate for its periodical was spelled out in the masthead of each 1990 issue: “Scarboro Missions presents a global vision of faith; one which promotes within the Canadian church a dialogue and understanding of the faiths, cultures and struggles of the people among whom the Society works…”

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