Outgoing President of Jesuits in Africa Named Dean of U.S.-based Jesuit School of Theology

Fr. Agbonkhianmeghe Orobator will become the new dean of the Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University (JST-SCU) on August 15. Credit: JST-SCU

Fr. Agbonkhianmeghe Orobator who is completing his term as the President of the Jesuit Conference of Africa and Madagascar (JCAM) has been named the new dean of the Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University (JST-SCU).

The Nigerian-born member of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits – SJ) is expected to take up his new role at the California-based university on August 15.

In a message shared with ACI Africa on Wednesday, May 10, Santa Clara University President, Julie Sullivan, announced the appointment of Fr. Orobator to the institution, describing the Nigerian Catholic Priest as “an internationally esteemed theologian” and “among the most influential Jesuit thinkers worldwide.”

“It is with great pleasure that I share the news that Agbonkhianmeghe Orobator… has been appointed dean of the Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University, starting August 15. Fr. Orobator is an internationally esteemed theologian and current president of the Jesuit Conference of Africa and Madagascar,” Sullivan said. 

She added, “Fr. Orobator is one of the most important theological voices in Africa and among the most influential Jesuit thinkers worldwide. He is a frequent author and speaker on topics including leadership, increasing the inclusion and role of women in the Church; ecological stewardship; and human rights and dignity.”


Fr. Orobator who completed his graduate studies at JST-SCU some 25 years ago has expressed his elation at the appointment.

“I am elated and grateful for this opportunity to join JST-SCU,” the Jesuit Priest says in a statement shared with ACI Africa, adding, “JST-SCU is a special place for me, and this is an opportunity to give back and to work alongside faculty, staff, and students to build on the solid and impressive spiritual, intellectual, and institutional foundations of the school in order to envision and shape a more illustrious future.”

“I envisage for JST-SCU an enhanced capacity to deliver a solid and innovative theological education and ministerial formation with a global mindset, and a sustained engagement with diverse cultures and traditions, especially in areas witnessing rapid changes in the fortunes of religious beliefs and practices,” he said.

In a circular dated May 10, Fr. Chukwuyenum Afiawari, the Provincial of the Jesuits in North and West Africa, said that Fr. Orobator’s “unique skill-set and experience” makes him fit for his new role at JST-SCU.

Fr. Orobator is known as a talented public speaker and scholar, especially on the study of the Church, as well as theological ethics, human rights, and human dignity.

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A delegate to the 36th General Congregation of the Society of Jesus and one of the most important theological voices in Africa, Fr. Orobator recently spoke at the Continental Synodal Assembly for the Church in Africa about how a “listening Church” should be home for sisters and brothers who feel left out because of marginalization, patriarchy, or clericalism in the Church.

Fr. Orobator joins the 89-year-old university following the passing on of former dean, Jesuit Fr. Joseph Mueller, in January.

He leaves the helm of the JCAM leadership in the hands of Fr. José Minaku Lukoli of the Central Africa Province (ACE) who was appointed towards the end of last year.

Agnes Aineah is a Kenyan journalist with a background in digital and newspaper reporting. She holds a Master of Arts in Digital Journalism from the Aga Khan University, Graduate School of Media and Communications and a Bachelor's Degree in Linguistics, Media and Communications from Kenya's Moi University. Agnes currently serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.