Ongoing Research Session to Create Scholarly Network Examining Catholic Nuns’ Apostolate

A poster announcing the International Consultative Research (ICR) Conference.
Credit: International Consultative Research (ICR).

The ongoing ten-day virtual international research conference aims at creating a global network of researchers who will have the task of examining the apostolate of Catholic nuns across the globe, one of the organizers has told ACI Africa.

Dubbed the International Consultative Research (ICR) conference, the September 21-30 online forum has been spearheaded by two U.S.-based entities. They include the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) at Georgetown University and the African Sisters Education Collaborative (ASEC).

“The International Consultative Research (ICR) conference aims to create a network of researchers, both religious and lay, who study the lives and work of Catholic sisters, globally,” the Executive Director of ASEC, Sr. Draru Mary Cecilia told ACI Africa Saturday, September 26.

Sr. Draru added that “the conference offers a unique platform for those who are currently studying Catholic sisters (including Catholic sisters themselves) to share their research and connect with other researchers, while also identifying emerging areas of research, potential collaborations and funding opportunities.”

The member of the Congregation Little Sisters of Mary Immaculate of Gulu (LSMIG) in Northern Uganda further told ACI Africa that the virtual conference is the result of a recognition by ASEC and CARA leadership of “the large research gap that exists in terms of studies conducted by, with and about Catholic Sisters, particularly in Africa.”

“Catholic sisters often go unrecognized for their important contributions to education, healthcare, social services, environmental initiatives and so many other areas that help improve the quality of life for the people they serve,” the holder of a Doctorate in Social Sciences explained.

Bringing together lay and religious researchers from six regions among them Africa, the conference also offers the participants an opportunity “to learn about Catholic Sisters in a variety of regions and contexts,” the ASEC Executive Director who has been serving in her current position since September 2017 told ACI Africa September 26.

Additionally, the conference also aims at establishing what Catholic Siters are currently studying, Sr. Draru who is based in Pennsylvania, U.S. said.

The conference also aims at identifying and prioritizing areas of research still needed regarding Religious Life, brainstorming best methods for research funding, implementation and dissemination of the findings, as well as exploring opportunities for future collaboration and partnerships, she further said.

Sr. Draru hopes that upon its conclusion, “the conference will bring about innovative partnerships, new and thought-provoking research studies and a vibrant network of Religious and Lay individuals who are passionate about understanding and sharing the stories of Catholic Sisters and ultimately getting the word out on the important role Catholic Sisters play in holistic human development.”

Among the participants of the conference are Sisters involved in research from seven African countries, including Cameroon, Nigeria, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Zambia, and Lesotho.

Established in 1999 by four Catholic universities in the U.S. and their respective Religious Orders, ASEC’s mission is to facilitate access to education for women Religious in Africa that leads to enhancement and expansion of the education, health, economic, social, environmental and spiritual services they provide.

In the last 21 years, ASEC has served over 53,000 Sisters through its various programs.

Meanwhile, CARA, the co-organizer of the ICR conference is a national, non-profit, Georgetown University affiliated research center that conducts social scientific studies about the Catholic Church.

Founded in 1964, CARA has three major dimensions to its mission, which include increasing the Church’s self-understanding, serving the applied research needs of Church decision-makers, and advancing scholarly research on religion, particularly Catholicism.

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ACI Africa was officially inaugurated on August 17, 2019 as a continental Catholic news agency at the service of the Church in Africa. Headquartered in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, this media apostolate will strive to facilitate the telling of Africa’s story by providing media coverage of Catholic events on the African continent, giving visibility to the activities of the Church across Africa where statistics show significant growth in numbers and the continent gradually becoming the axis of Catholicism. This is expected to contribute to an awareness of and appreciation for the significant role of the Church in Africa and over time, the realization of a realistic image of Africa that often receives negative media framing.

Father Don Bosco Onyalla
Editor-in-Chief, ACI Africa
[email protected]