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Harvey Steele
Porters Lake (N.S.), Pottersfield Press, 1993. 219pp, paper, $15.95
ISBN 0-919001-80-7.

Reviewed by Val K. Lem

Volume 22 Number 3
1994 May/June

Whether serving in his home parish in Cape Breton or in foreign lands, Father Steele believed that witnessing for his faith required tangible efforts to help poor people live more humanely. Now in his eighties, Steele remains a champion of justice and an outspoken advocate of reform in his church. He incorporates a great deal of social history and theological reflection into this readable autobiography.

Entering the China Mission Seminary (now the Scarboro Foreign Mission) in 1932, Steele embraced China to escape his family. The lack of interest in Catholicism among the Chinese caused him to reject his church's whole approach to missions and meant that his activities in the war-torn country were often far removed from the traditional priestly functions of preaching and administering the sacraments.

Inspired by the efforts of the Antigonish Movement to help poor Maritimers through adult education and the creation of cooperatives and credit unions, Steele adopted this approach to promoting social justice during three decades of service in Latin America. Before retiring in 1976, "Padre Pablo" nurtured the co-op movement in the Dominican Republic and then in Panama, where he realized his dream of establishing the Inter-American Co-operative Institute to train Latin students to become agents for change.

A worthwhile purchase for its insight into twentieth-century missions, liberation theology in practice, and historical development of co-operatives in Canada and Latin America. Maps should complement the photographs. No index is provided.

Grades 9 and up / Ages 14 and up

Vat K. Lem is a librarian with the Board of Education for the City of Toronto in Toronto, Ontario

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