Hot Topics: Cool Talk - Should We Take Mission Trips Off The Bucket List?

Hot Topics: Cool Talk for Lyris

Theologians John O'Keefe and Gerald Schlabach share ideas for how to pack for an ethically responsible mission trip.

Date & Time:

Thursday, March 1, 2018
12:00 PM - 1:00 PM



Free and open to the public. A complimentary lunch will be available at 11:30 a.m. for those who register online.


MCH 100
McNeely Great Hall
Saint Paul campus

This program is co-sponsored with the Office of Service and Social Justice

This program is co-sponsored with the Office of Service and Social Justice

This spring and summer, thousands of volunteers will set out on “mission trips.” Instead of soaking in the sun on the Mexican Riviera or the beauty of a Caravaggio in Rome, they will travel to countries around the globe to confront issues of poverty and social justice. They will build chicken coops, serve meals, hold babies, roof homes, and harvest coffee beans. They will bring home pictures and stories and a life-changing experience.

But what will these well-intentioned travelers leave behind?  Will their work promote long-lasting change or dependency? Will they create authentic partnerships or disorder?  Harsh critics call their efforts “slum tourism” – and cry out they exploit the poor.  Join featured speakers John O'Keefe and Gerald Schlabach, two theologians who lead service-learning mission trips, as they grapple with these questions and share tips on what to pack for a morally responsible mission trip--should you decide to keep it on your bucket list.


John J. O’Keefeis Professor of Theology and the Director of the Center for Catholic Thought and co-host of the podcast “Catholic Comments.”  Dr. O’Keefe is involved in documentary filmmaking projects that explore the mission of the Church in the developing world.

Gerald W. Schlabach is Professor of Theology, former Chair of the Department of Justice and Peace Studies, and winner of the 2012 Service-Learning Faculty Award at the University of St. Thomas. Dr. Schlabach has led students on mission trips to San Lucas, Guatemala for 18 years. 

Christopher Thompson Associate Professor of Moral Theology and Director of the Center for Theological Formation at the St. Paul Seminary School of Divinity, will moderate the program.

Application has been made for 1.0 continuing legal education credits.

To make an accessibility request, call Disability Resources at (651) 962-6315.