College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences > Centers & Institutes > Center for World Catholicism & Intercultural Theology > World Catholicism Week > 2021 Speakers

2021 Speakers

Keynote Speakers

Barbra Mann Wall, PhD, RN, FAAN

Fellow, American Academy of Nursing
Thomas A. Saunders III Professor of Nursing, University of Virginia School of Nursing
(Charlottesville, VA)

Barbra Mann Wall, PhD, RN, FAAN, holds the Thomas A. Saunders III Professorship in Nursing at the University of Virginia School of Nursing. Dr. Wall received her BS from the University of Texas at Austin and her MS in Nursing from Texas Woman’s University. She earned a PhD in history from the University of Notre Dame. Her research illustrates the gendered story of hospital establishments and the nursing profession. She has been funded by the NIH and private grants. Her award-winning book, Unlikely Entrepreneurs: Catholic Sisters and the Hospital Marketplace, 1865-1925 (Ohio State University Press, 2005), integrated history and nursing practice to inform how America’s two-tiered approach to health delivery (private and public) served a diverse American populace.

Her second book, American Catholic Hospitals: A Century of Changing Markets and Missions (Rutgers University Press, 2011), analyzed the heretofore invisible role of Catholic sister nurses as leaders of the largest not-for-profit health care system in the United States and the tensions that developed as religious institutions attempted to directly shape health policies in a diverse milieu. Her newest book, Into Africa: A Transnational History of Catholic Missions and Social Change (Rutgers University Press, 2015), explores the intersection of religion, medicine, gender, race, and politics in sub-Saharan Africa after World War II. She also is co-editor, with Dr. Arlene Keeling, of two books on the history of nursing in disasters: Nurses on the Front Lines: When Disasters Strike, 1878-2010 (2010); and Nurses and Disasters: Global, Historical Cases (2015); and she is the editor-in-chief of Health Emergency and Disaster Nursing, the official journal of the Disaster Nursing Global Leader Degree Program. She has most recently been asked to serve on the UVA President’s Commission on Segregation after the Civil War.

Conference Topic—"Catholic Sisters in Health Care: Conflict, Entanglements, and Crossovers in Medicine, Nursing, and Religion"

Through examination of Catholic sisters' work in health care in the United States and Africa, this presentation will focus on the interconnected history of medicine, nursing, and Catholicism. Typically, storylines of conflict have persisted in the historiography of these topics, but this presentation problematizes conflict narratives with histories of entanglements and crossovers in medicine, nursing, and religion. Sisters in hospitals in different countries had to adapt to diverse political, medical, social, religious, and professional circumstances to remain financially viable and ethically compliant to Church directives. In the process, they found common ground and built coalitions among disparate entities, which, today, provide valuable working models for how to blend the sacred and the secular.

David Cayley

Award-winning journalist & former host of CBC Radio One's "Ideas"
Author of Ideas on the Nature of Science

Over the course of his career, David Cayley a Toronto native, has interviewed some of the leading environmental experts, scientists, philosophers, and activists of our day. From 1981 until he retired in 2012, he produced several hundred hours of radio documentaries, primarily for CBC Radio One’s program Ideas, which premiered in 1965 under the title The Best Ideas You’ll Hear Tonight. 

In 1966, after graduating with honors from Harvard, Cayley joined the Canadian University Service Overseas (CUSO), one of many volunteer organizations that sprang up in the 1960s to promote international development. He served as a teacher for CUSO in a Chinese middle school in north Borneo. Two years later, back in Canada working for Oxfam, he began to associate with a group of returned volunteers whose experiences had made them, like himself, increasingly quizzical about the idea of development. In 1968 in Chicago, he heard a lecture given by Ivan Illich, a philosopher, Catholic priest, and critic of industrial society. In 1970, Cayley and others brought Illich to Toronto for a teach-in called “Crisis in Development.” This was the beginning of their long relationship: eighteen years later Cayley invited Illich to do a series of interviews for CBC Radio’s Ideas. 

Cayley is the author of several books, some of which grew out of his Ideas documentaries: Ideas on the Nature of Science (2009); The Rivers North of the Future: The Testament of Ivan Illich (2004); Puppet Uprising (2003); The Expanding Prison: The Crisis in Crime and Punishment and the Search for Alternatives (1998); George Grant in Conversation (1995); Northrop Frye in Conversation (1992); Ivan Illich in Conversation (1992); and The Age of Ecology (1990). His articles have appeared  in numerous Canadian publications, and he has given public lectures in both the U.S. and Canada. He received the Canadian Science Writers’ Association Award for the series, “Religion and the New Science,” in 1985 and the Canadian Association for Community Living Award for the series, “Beyond Institutions” in 1994. He also was awarded an honorary doctorate in sacred letters from Thornloe University in Sudbury, Ontario.

Conference Keynote—"Medical Nemesis Remembered"

In 1975, Ivan Illich published Medical Nemesis: The Expropriation of Health, a book that claimed that bio-medicine had grown to such a scale and ambition that it was beginning to defeat its own purposes and undermine the very culture which had given it birth—a condition Illich called "paradoxical counter-productivity." This talk will revive Illich's critique and ask whether it applies today, and, if so, how.  

Roundtable Speakers


Susan Nedza, MD, MBA, FACEP (AIM Speciality Health—Hinsdale, IL, U.S.A.)

President, Olancho Aid Foundation (Olancho, Honduras)
Former Chief Medical Officer, Region V of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (Chicago, IL)

Susan Nedza, MD, MBA, is an emergency physician and health care executive who has participated in and led volunteer organizations in Latin America. She currently is the president of the Olancho Aid Foundation, a Catholic 501(c)3 that focuses on education, health, and clean water projects in Olancho, Honduras. Dr. Nedza also serves as an adjunct assistant professor at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine. She is board-certified in emergency medicine and clinical informatics, and her past experiences includes serving as chief medical officer for Region V of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and as senior executive at the American Medical Association (AMA). 

She received her bachelor’s in chemistry from Gannon University (Erie, PA) and her medical degree from Loyola-Stritch School of Medicine. She completed the executive master's program at Northwestern’s Kellogg Graduate School of Management and holds a master of liberal arts degree from the University of Chicago. Her most recent studies have been focused on the utility of using Catholic eco-poetry to encourage activism in addressing climate change. 

Conference Presentation—"Accompaniment as the Catholic Medical Mission Model: Responding to the Call to 'Go Forth'"

The efficacy of traditional short-term medical missions is increasingly being questioned by both providers of such services and the communities that they seek to assist. Catholic organizations and individuals involved in the global work of healing are being called to transform their work from the current Western model of treating disease to one that is sustainable and centered on health. In their call to "go forth," the Aparecida Document of 2007, Evangelii Gaudium, and Laudato Si' provide guidance as to how best to embrace missionary discipleship as they seek to encounter and care for those at the peripheries.

Soojung Kim

Assistant Professor of Medical Humanities & Social Sciences
College of Medicine
Catholic University of Korea

Since 2012, Soojung Kim has served as assistant professor for the Department of Medical Humanities & Social Sciences at the Catholic University of Korea’s College of Medicine in Seoul, South Korea. She is a member of the following organizations: the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Seoul’s Committee for Life; the Korea National Institute for Bioethics Policy’s Central Institutional Review Board (IRB); and Ewha Woman’s University’s Institutional Animal Care Use Committee (IACUC). She also sits on the editorial committees of several academic journals: Personalism Bioethics, the Korean Journal of Ethics, and the Korean Journal of Medical Ethics. In the past, she has held membership in numerous other organizations such as the Bioethics Committee of the Korean Catholic Bishops’ Conference, the editorial board of Biomedical Law & Ethics, and the IRB of Gangnam/Shinchon Severance Hospital in Seoul.

Dr. Kim holds an MA in philosophy from Ewha Woman’s University (Seoul) and received her PhD in the same field from the Catholic University of America in Washington, DC. She is the author of Alasdair MacIntyre’s Criticism of Modern Moral Philosophy: The Relationship of Moral Agency to Community (VDM Verlag Dr. Müller, 2009) and a contributing author to the edited volume (in Korean), Catholic Clinical Ethics Guide (Catholic Medical Center, 2014). Her research interests include virtue ethics, bioethics, and medical professionalism, and she has published extensively on these topics and more in such journals such as Personalism Bioethics, Bioethics Policy Studies, and the Korean Journal of Medical Ethics. In addition, she has translated or co-translated the following books into Korean: Thomistic Principles and Bioethics by Jason T. Eberl (Catholic University Press, 2011); Medical Care at the End of Life: A Catholic Perspective by David F. Kelly (Acanet, 2011); and Principles of Biomedical Ethics, 6th ed., by Tom. L. Beauchamp and James F. Childress (Ewha Institute for Biomedical Law & Ethics, 2014).

Conference Presentation—"The History & Mission of the Catholic Medical Center in Korea"

Operated by the Archdiocese of Seoul, the Catholic Medical Center (CMC) exemplifies the characteristics of Catholic health care in Korea, and its story reflects the history of the Church's medical missionary work here. The CMC began as St. Mary's Hospital which was built in 1880 with the help of Catholic missionaries. Today, it consists of 9 institutions and its services encompass hospice spirituality, the treatment and care of Hansen's disease patients, occupational and environmental medicine, and contributions to global health care. Its mission, an embodiment of Jesus Christ as Healer, is inscribed in 5 domains including identity, treatment, management, education, and research. 

Sam Orach (Uganda Catholic Medical Bureau, Kampala)

Executive Secretary
Uganda Catholic Medical Bureau

For the last 15 years, Dr. Sam Orach has served as the executive secretary of the Uganda Catholic Medical Bureau (UCMB), the health department of the Uganda Episcopal Conference; the UCMB comprises 296 health facilities, including 33 hospitals, around the country. His main areas of interest are health systems (HSS), especially corporate governance in the health sector, and public-private partnerships for health (PPPH) as a vehicle to service delivery and strengthening health systems. Including his current position with UCMB, he has over 31 years of management and leadership experience in public health and has worked both for the government and the church. He is a graduate of Makerere University Medical School in Kampala and holds a master’s in primary health care management from the Istituto Superiore di Sanita in Rome; he was also a Hubert H. Humphrey fellow in 2000 at Emory University in Atlanta.

Both within Uganda and internationally, Dr. Orach has served on a number of governing or advisory boards, including 12 years on the Health Policy Advisory Committee (HPAC) of the Ministry of Health in Uganda. In August 2018, he became a member of the board of directors of Uganda National Medical Stores and, in 2019, was appointed to the board of Emmaus Foundation Trust, a faith-based Italian organization. From 2014-18, he served on the board of the International Confederation of Catholic Health Care Associations (CIISAC), and from 2012-15 on the Health Advisory Board for the Fetzer Institute in Kalamazoo, MI. In March 2012, Pope Benedict XVI appointed him as a consultant/advisor to the Pontifical Council for Health Pastoral Care.

Conference Presentation—"Catholic Health Care in the Global South: Does the Giant Matter? A Perspective from Africa"

In the context of universal health coverage, within the larger UN Sustainable Goal 3, health care is only a contributor to health. This "universality," inclusivity, and preferential concern for the vulnerable is reflected in the mission of Catholic health services in Uganda. The Church's participation in protecting and maintaining health is not a matter of option but rather a scriptural demand and a moment for evangelism. This talk will outline the importance of Catholic health care to the health systems in Africa, explaining the Church's contributions to institutional structures, policies, health care delivery, and the World Health Organization's six building blocks for Health Systems Strengthening. But there are challenges, both internal and external to the Church, when it comes to balancing between being faithful to the mission of Christ's healing ministry and sustainability of services.


Alexandre Martins (Marquette University)

Assistant Professor 
Department of Theology and College of Nursing
Marquette University

A theologian and bioethicist from Brazil, Alexandre Martins serves as assistant professor in the Department of Theology and the College of Nursing at Marquette University in Milwaukee, WI (USA). He is also a member of the core leadership of Catholic Theological Ethics in the World Church and an active member of the Brazilian Society of Moral Theology. He received his PhD in theological ethics/bioethics from Marquette, where he studied bioethics and global public health from a liberation approach. He also holds a postdoctoral degree in democracy and human rights from the Human Rights Center at the University of Coimbra Law School, Portugal. 

He specializes in health care ethics and social ethics, especially in the areas of public health, global health, community-based approaches, and Catholic social teaching. Widely published and with broad scholarship, he has also lectured in various countries. His new book The Cry of the Poor: Liberation Ethics and Justice in Health Care is scheduled for publication in December 2019 by Rowman & Littlefield. As a health care provider and global health advocate, he has served in middle- and low-income countries throughout the world, such as Brazil, Bolivia, Haiti, and Uganda. Currently, he is working on a research project measuring the impact of neoliberal policies on the lives of low-income families in Brazil, where such policies have dismantled the nation’s public and universal health system. 

Conference Presentation—"The Centrality of the Sick, Poor, and Oppressed in Jesus' Mission"

"The spirit of the Lord is on me, for he has anointed me to bring the good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives, sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim a year of favor from the Lord” (Luke 4: 18). Jesus read this text from the prophet Isaiah in a synagogue in Nazareth, presenting it as a project of his public ministry. In this talk, I will develop how this narrative shows the centrality of the sick, the oppressed, and the poor in Jesus’ mission, and that of his followers, guided by the Holy Spirit. Promoting health and well-being is an effort that needs to combine medical care for the sick and efforts to build justice, by liberating the oppressed and raising the poor from their poverty.    

David Toole (Duke Global Health Institute)

Associate Professor of the Practice of Theology, Ethics, and Global Health
Duke Global Health Institute

Professor David Toole has a joint appointment in Duke University’s Global Health Institute, Kenan Institute for Ethics, and Divinity School. His recent courses include “Global Health as a Moral Enterprise,” “Global Health Systems,” “Ethical Dimensions of Environmental Policy,” “Ethics and Native America,” and “Challenges of Living and Ethical Life.” His current research centers on the role of mission hospitals in African health systems, with a particular focus on the countries of the Nile River Basin in eastern Africa.

He is the author of Waiting for Godot in Sarajevo: Theological Reflections on Nihilism, Tragedy, and Apocalypse, and is currently on sabbatical completing a manuscript titled "What Are People For? Questions Concerning What It Means to Be Human." His research interests include access to health care, culture, health policy, health systems, refugee health, religion, and violence. In addition to his teaching and research, he serves as associate dean for Interdisciplinary Initiatives in the Divinity School and co-directs THE PLANET Project in the Kenan Institute for Ethics. He holds an MPH from UNC-Chapel Hill and both an MTS and PhD from Duke University.

Conference Presentation—"The Morgue in the Garden of Eden: What Are Hospitals For?"

In many hospitals in the United States, the morgue is near the loading dock, where laundry and garbage exit the building. The architecture of industrial efficiency makes it so, and, in any case, bodies are technically medical waste. The location of the morgue in American hospitals speaks volumes about American understandings of health and about the nature of health care in the U.S. What, then, would it mean if a hospital were, in fact, designed so that its architecture was oriented around the morgue, and the morgue was not near the exit for garbage and laundry but was the last stop before the chapel that marks the exit? Such a hospital exists in Burundi, or at least it used to, before the Burundian government closed it down amid concerns that its founder was part of the political opposition trying to unseat the president. This presentation uses the story of this hospital and several others in Africa, and the contrast between these hospitals and those in the U.S., to raise what are ultimately theological questions about health and the role of health care institutions in human flourishing.

Fr. Stan Chu Ilo

Research Professor, Center for World Catholicism & Intercultural Theology (CWCIT)
Associate Professor of Catholic Studies
DePaul University

Ordained a Catholic priest in his home country of Nigeria, Fr. Stan Chu Ilo has served as associate professor of Catholic studies and CWCIT research professor at DePaul University since 2015. He coordinates CWCIT’s African Catholicism Project, a network of established and emerging African Christian scholars to promote mentorship and diverse research in African Christianity and to make this scholarship more visible beyond Africa. He holds an ecclesiastical licentiate in sacred theology (with a concentration in the Christological images in Luke-Acts and African theologies); a PhD in theology from the University of St Michael’s College at the University of Toronto; and a second PhD from the University of South Africa in the sociology of education.

He is also a visiting professor at Tangaza University College’s Institute of Social Ministry and Mission in Nairobi and the founder of the Canadian Samaritans for Africa, a nonprofit that works directly with African women to help them alleviate poverty. Additionally, he is editor of the African Christian Studies Series for Wipf and Stock Publishers’ Pickwick imprint as well as a commentator for media outlets such as Canada Television (CTV), Al-Jazeera, CNN African Voices, and Huffington Post. His areas of interest are cross-cultural studies, African intellectual and political history, African Christianity and the world Church, equity and diversity in faith-based education and ministry, religion and social transformation, and religion and violence. Among his most recent books are A Poor & Merciful Church: The Illuminative Ecclesiology of Pope Francis (Orbis, 2018) and Wealth, Health, and Hope in African Christian Religion (Rowman & Littlefield, 2018). He is also working on a forthcoming book, "Rome and the Margins: Reform & Renewal in the Catholic Church Beyond the West."

Conference Topic—"Rise Up and Walk: From Narratives of Contamination to Redemptive Narratives of Healing and Hope"

I will identify 3 theological themes and 2 ethical practices at work in three selected biblical narratives of healing from Luke-Acts (Luke 8: 40-56; Acts 3: 1-10)—the healing of the woman with the flow of blood, the raising of Jairus’ daughter, and the healing of the crippled man at the beautiful gate. 

The theological themes are (1) the presence, pain, and tragedy of human suffering in the face of sickness and death; (2) the Christian community’s interpretation/understanding of suffering, sickness, and death vis-à-vis some false interpretations of sickness as a narrative of contamination and divine punishment for the sick person’s sin; and (3) the Christian community’s vocation to accompany the sick and dying in solidarity, sharing their pain through two ethical practices. These ethical practices are to (i) compassionately identify with those suffering through immersion in their condition and (ii) to bring healing and hope through holistic health care and medical intervention. 

Using the Ebola outbreak in Africa as an example, I will conclude by applying some of these theological principles and ethical practices to show how the Christian community can journey with the sick and experience a new encounter of the reign of God…and thus proclaim, in the face of our frail human nature and finality, the irruption of a new, redemptive narrative of healing and hope through a God capable of saving the whole person.


Dr. Sr. Maria Vasantha (Leonard Hospital—Batlagundu, India)

Medical Superintendent   
Leonard Hospital

Sr. Dr. Maria Vasantha, DGO, belongs to the Congregation of the Sisters of the Cross of Chavanod (popularly known as the Holy Cross Sisters); she holds the following positions at Leonard Hospital in the town of Batlagundu in India’s Tamil Nadu State: medical superintendent; co-coordinator of the Medical Commission; and director, consultant, and surgeon within the Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology. She graduated from St. John’s National Academy of Health Sciences (Bangalore, India), and holds a diploma and fellowship in minimal access surgery from World Laparoscopy Hospital (Gurgaon, India); she is also trained in ultrasound imaging by the Bangalore Fetal Medicine Centre. 

Proficient in the practice of contemplative and Zen meditation, she has completed certificate courses in Bach flower medicine, reflexology, and yoga. She is actively involved in various organizations: as coordinator of Community Health Services for the Indian Medical Association (Batlagundu branch); board member of the Sister Doctors Forum of India, Tamil Nadu Region; and member of both the Federation of Obstetric & Gynaecological Society of India and the Obstetric & Gynaecological Society of Madurai. Following an integrative approach to women’s health, she uses a balance of Western science and alternative and spiritual therapies of Eastern science. She offers women a variety of gynecological services such as well-woman care, infertility treatment, in-patient laparoscopic and gynecological surgery, and comprehensive obstetric care from preconception counseling to delivery to postpartum. Currently, she is conducting a study on the effects of yoga and meditation intervention during pregnancy.

In the area’s village and school health programs, she conducts awareness campaigns on various women’s and adolescent health care issues. She also reaches out to the poor and the marginalized tribal people who have very limited access to health care, offering free medical camps to address their needs. For women religious and postulants/aspirants, she conducts seminars on human sexuality, psychosexual and spiritual integration, and early detection of breast and pelvic cancers. Her dream is to bring integral healing to the indigenous poor of the district, and her passion is to give the healing touch of Christ to everyone she meets with a holistic approach. 

Conference Presentation—"Connecting Western & Eastern Medicine from a Rural and Christian Perspective in India"

In India, there is a great discrepancy in the quality and coverage of medical treatment between rural and urban areas. In rural areas, where 70% of the population live, conventional Western medicine has become secondary to non-Western (Eastern) treatment, and this is due to inadequate (or nonexistent) conventional treatment, the poor financial resources of health care facilities, and the lack of awareness of health care needs and cultural beliefs. 

I will present the efficacy and the objective outcome of non-Western/Eastern treatment with Western treatment in the rural areas of India. I will discuss the role of non-Western treatment as complementary to conventional medicine to achieve optimal health and will also share some of my personal experiences of using non-Western treatment along with Western treatment. In his own ministry, Jesus honored the physicians yet, at the same time, he applied some of the traditional healing methods to heal people. He responded to the faith of the people who were ill. As the divine healer, Jesus is a model for connecting conventional and non-conventional medicine. 

Fr. Bernhard Udelhoven, SMA (Faith & Encounter Centre Zambia—Lusaka)

Founder, "Fingers of Thomas" support group
Faith & Encounter Centre Zambia (FENZA)

Born in Germany, Fr. Bernhard Udelhoven is a priest with the Missionaries of Africa and holds an MA in social anthropology from SOAS University of London (UK). He has lived and worked in Zambia for 24 years, both in rural and urban areas, and has 20 years’ experience in mediating witchcraft-related disputes there. From 2007 to 2015, he led a research project on Satanism and occultism in Zambia, with the aim of proposing a new pastoral approach that is both culturally-sensitive and takes seriously people’s fears without foregoing the struggle for justice for those who are the victims of moral panics, witch hunts, and the demonization of minority groups. 

This research led to the establishment of a support group, known as the “Fingers of Thomas.” The group offers support to those who have had occult experiences, feel afflicted by demons or witchcraft, identify themselves with forms of Satanism as portrayed by Christian preaching, or stand accused of being Satanists or witches; these individuals find themselves ostracized by their families and communities, often with threats to their very lives. The relational and cultural approach at work in the Fingers of Thomas group is outlined in Fr. Udelhoven’s 2015 book, Unseen Worlds: Dealing with Spirits, Witchcraft, and Satanism, published in Lusaka by FENZA (Faith and Encounter Centre, Zambia), a Catholic resource center on faith and culture.

Conference Presentation—"Perspectives from Zambia"

Any tradition of medicine is related to a specific understanding of sickness, healing, and the human body. This presentation comes from an African—specifically, Zambian—perspective where we find a plurality of widely accepted healing institutions side by side (modern hospitals, traditional healers, faith healing, etc.) The concepts of medicine easily become hybrid and give rise to contradictions. Where “Catholic” translates as “universal,” Catholic health care also needs to meet the concerns raised by non-Western traditions of medicine. This demands clarity about the focus of the healing ministry.  

Abraham Castañeda, MD, MPH

Specialist in public health and epidemiology
Expert diabetes educator

Currently based in Washington, DC, Abraham Castañeda, MD, MPH, is a Mexican doctor and diabetes educator with over 30 years of experience; he specializes in public health and epidemiology with a focus on human rights, community mobilization, and peer education. He is an expert on type 2 and gestational diabetes, obesity (especially childhood prevention and treatment), HIV discrimination, STDs, tuberculosis, and maternal and child health. Since 1999, he has served as a consultant for SerBien (Servicios de Bienestar en Salud) and Project HOPE in Mexico City, Central America, and the Caribbean, training volunteer community health promoters as well as developing and implementing educational projects. From 1985 to 1990, he worked at Hospital San Carlos which serves the indigenous communities of Altamirano, Chiapas, Mexico; while there, he developed a successful, indigenous community health project focused on the prevention and control of pulmonary tuberculosis.

Dr. Castañeda has served in both the public and private, nonprofit sectors in Mexico and at the international level, working for entities such as Save the Children, Bread for the World, Caritas International, the Mexican Secretariat of Health, Mexico’s National Indigenous Institute, and the National Institute of Respiratory Diseases. His experience includes multidisciplinary training (all levels), capacity-building for health systems, humanitarian assistance, and disaster response. He has published and presented research results at various international conferences, such as the International Diabetes Federation (IDF), International AIDS Conference, and International Union Against TB and Lung Disease. He is the author of numerous educational manuals, including Five Steps to Self-Care: Caring for Yourself and Others, recognized as an international model in 2004 by Novo Nordisk’s DAWN Award and IDF for achieving behavior change and improved clinical outcomes.

Conference Topic (co-presented with Carolina Martinez, MD)—"Challenges of a Rural Mission Hospital in Chiapas: Quality Care for a Vulnerable, Indigenous Community"

Description to come

Carolina Martínez, MD (Hospital San Carlos—Altamirano, Chiapas, Mexico)

General Physician
Hospital San Carlos
(Altamirano, Chiapas, Mexico)

Carolina Martínez Haro is a general physician from Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua, on the northern border of Mexico, where she studied medicine at Universidad Autónoma de Ciudad Juárez (UACJ). As a student, she actively participated in student organizations and medical missions. Following her passion to work for those in need, she decided to spend her mandatory social service year working with Compañeros en Salud. This Mexican branch of Partners in Health is concentrated in the Sierra Madre mountains of Chiapas, where it provides primary care through community clinics to the region’s underserved coffee farmer families. During her service here, Dr. Martínez obtained a certificate in social medicine and global health, while being in charge of the mental health program, managing community health workers and the nursing staff.

Since 2015, Dr. Martínez has been working at Hospital San Carlos, a rural mission hospital in Chiapas that serves the area’s indigenous population which, according to national reports, has the least access to health services in all of Mexico. She works with inpatient and outpatient services, cares for tuberculosis patients, and runs the child malnutrition program. Currently, she is also working on a project of her own, the association Konik Pisiltik, which means “Let’s go together” in the indigenous Mayan language of Tzeltal; through this program, she strives to bridge the gap between primary care and specialty consultations providing transportation, support/accompaniment, advocacy, and translation for patients in rural areas who must travel to the city for medical attention.

Conference Topic (co-presented with Abraham Castañeda, MD, MPH)—"Challenges of a Rural Mission Hospital in Chiapas: Quality Care for a Vulnerable, Indigenous Community"

Description to come


Kochurani Abraham, PhD

Regional Coordinator, Indian Christian Women's Movement for Kerala
Vice President, Indian Theological Association

Dr. Kochurani Abraham is a feminist theologian, gender researcher, and trainer from Kerala, India. She holds a master’s in child development from Kerala University; a licentiate in systematic theology from the Pontifical University of Comillas (Madrid); and a PhD in feminist theology from the University of Madras, India. Her feminist theological sensibilities awakened during her undergraduate theology studies as the first woman student in an all-male theology college; ever since, it has been her primary passion and commitment in her many engagements as a social activist, academic, and spiritual seeker. Her research interests include gender, ecology, spirituality, and transformative education. She contributes regularly to journals and collected works in both India and abroad, and she is passionate about bridging academia and the grassroots for a liberative praxis. 

Besides being an active member and former coordinator of Indian Women Theologians Forum, she is also actively engaged in the World Forum of Theology and Liberation. Previously, she served as coordinator of Ecclesia of Women in Asia, an association of Asian feminist theologians, and she also represented Asia on the board of the International Network of Societies in Catholic Theology (INSeCT). At present, she is the regional coordinator of the Indian Christian Women’s Movement for Kerala and vice president of the Indian Theological Association. Her latest publication is Persisting Patriarchy: Intersectionalities, Negotiations, Subversions (Palgrave Macmillan, 2019).

Conference Presentation—"Gendered Wounds that Clamor for Healing"

This presentation addresses the trauma of the deep-rooted problematic of gender/sexual violence in the Catholic Church. Taking the alleged rape of a nun by a bishop in the Indian Church as a case of analysis, it identifies clericalism and the gender/sexual politics of the Catholic hierarchy as factors that aggravate the crisis. In this situation, justice is taken as a precondition for bringing about healing, and Dr. Abraham's thesis is that a feminist theological reconstruction of ecclesiology is imperative for setting off the much-needed renewal in ecclesiastical praxis.

Elisee Rutagambwa, SJ

Deputy Dean and Senior Lecturer
Hekima Institute of Peace Studies and International Relations (HIPSIR)

Rev. Dr. Elisee Rutagambwa, SJ, is a Jesuit priest from Rwanda. He holds two master’s degrees, one in philosophy from the Catholic University of Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), and another in social ethics from the Boston College School of Theology and Ministry in Boston, MA, USA, where he later obtained a PhD in theological social ethics. Prior to finishing his doctoral dissertation, he taught both at Boston College and the Major Seminary in Bujumbura, Burundi, as a teaching fellow. He has contributed a number of papers in international fora on social ethics issues and genocide studies. Upon completing his doctorate, he served successively as the director of the Jesuit Urumuri Center for Research and Social Action and St. Ignatius School in Rwanda’s capital city of Kigali.

For the last four years, he has been teaching in Nairobi at Hekima University College, a constituent college of the Catholic University of East Africa. In 2019, he taught as a visiting scholar at the Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University in California (USA). Currently, he serves as senior lecturer and deputy dean at the Hekima Institute of Peace Studies and International Relations (HIPSIR) in Nairobi. There, he teaches various courses such as International Human Rights, Ethics of War and Peacebuilding, Christian Social Ethics, Conflict Resolution and Social Reconciliation, Catholic Social Teaching, and Exodus and Genocide. His areas of interests are social ethics, human rights, Catholic social teaching, genocide, and postcolonial studies.

Conference Presentation—"Trauma Healing and Reconciliation in Post-Genocide Rwanda: A Complementary Approach"

In the aftermath of the genocide against the Tutsis in Rwanda, some scholars argued that reconciliation was impossible given the fact that many genocide victims were still hurting from unprecedented trauma and, therefore, incapable of engaging in any effective reconciliation process. Others, instead, supported the idea that the two processes needed to be conducted simultaneously if the country was to get back on its feet. Looking back to the post-genocide experience and learning from its lessons, this presentation argues in favor of a complementary ethical approach and highlights its benefits. Further, after disentangling unavoidable quandaries that follow the conflict, it critically envisions ways in which it can be generalized to other conflictual situations across the globe.

Claudio de Oliveira Ribeiro

Visiting Professor, Religious Studies Graduate Program
Federal University of Juiz de Fora
(Juiz de Fora, Brazil)

Claudio de Oliveira Ribeiro is a Brazilian Methodist theologian, with a master's and doctorate in theology from the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro (PUC-Rio). He completed a postdoctoral research intership in 2015 at Southern Methodist University (Dallas), which focused on interreligious movements, democracy, and human rights.

Currently, he serves as a visiting professor in the graduate program in Religious Studies at the Federal University of Juiz de Fora. He is also an advisor to the Base Ecclesial Communities of the Catholic Church in Brazil, ecumenical groups, and popular movements, integrating prominent Brazilian ecumenical organizations and monitoring interfaith actions and forums. His teaching and research experience are largely focused on the following: religious pluralism, theology and culture, theological anthropology, Christology, ecumenism, and human rights.

Conference Presentation—"The Pandemic in the Context of Necropolitics and Liberation Spiritualities"

This talk presents results of theological research on aspects of the situation generated by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic in Brazil and worldwide. Methodologically, the analysis was structured in four segments that describe, in summary, the research results. The first segment indicates the reflexes of the pandemic within the context of necropolitics which intensifies COVID-19’s implications for the poorest and most vulnerable sectors of society. The second shows how religious experiences enhance the simultaneous presence of obscurantist forms and others that, in contrast, are characterized by dialogue with the sciences and the maturity of social responsibility. The third segment is related to aspects of human fragility and the delicate tasks of facing these, with the possibility of spontaneous, creative, and plural forms of spirituality that favor perspectives of hope. The fourth briefly describes the understanding of the expressions of spirituality in relation to aspects that mark alterity—or, otherness—in the context of the pandemic.


Sr. Joan Mumaw, IHM

President & Chief Administrative Officer
Friends in Solidarity, Inc.

A member of the IHM Sisters, or the Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (Monroe, MI), Sr. Joan Mumaw is a graduate of Marygrove College (Detroit) and received her MA in cultural anthropology from Wayne State University (Detroit). She spent 16 years in ministry in Africa, teaching cultural anthropology in the major seminary in Uganda (1975-81), and she was also the development director of the Catholic Institute of Education in South Africa from 1996 to 2006. She also served in the IHM Congregation’s elected leadership (1982-88) and as vice provincial for IHM Overseas Missions (1988-94). From 2006 to 2012, she was vice president/president of the IHM Sisters of Monroe.

In 2013, Sr. Mumaw spent several months working with the organization, Solidarity with South Sudan, in that newly independent country. Solidarity is a collaborative commitment of religious men and women from different congregations, charisms, and countries who are working in partnership with the Catholic Church in South Sudan. Its aim is to create self-sustainable educational, health, agricultural, and pastoral institutions and programs that will help to empower the South Sudanese people to build a just and peaceful society. After her time working with Solidarity, Sr. Mumaw was asked by them to establish a not-for-profit organization in the U.S. to support the mission and work. Currently, she is president and chief administrative officer of that nonprofit—Friends in Solidarity—which follows the same collaborative model. Its office is located within the Leadership Conference of Women Religious office in Silver Spring, MD.

Conference Presentation—"Solidarity with South Sudan: Paradigm of Promise in a Challenging Context"

The presentation will focus on the origins of the Solidarity initiative and how this collaboration among religious men, women, and the laity is perceived by South Sudanese. It will also look at the changing context of South Sudan, the level of health care present in the country and the response of Solidarity to these challenges. Lastly, it will reflect on some of the lessons learned in dealing with these challenges, many of which face any organization in the North as they encounter the people of the South and especially those in sub-Saharan Africa.

Bruce Compton

Senior Director of International Outreach
Catholic Health Association of the United States

Bruce Compton is senior director of international outreach for the Catholic Health Association of the United States. He is based in the association's St. Louis office. Mr. Compton is responsible for assisting and supporting CHA-member organizations in their outreach activities in the developing world. His duties include facilitating collaboration among CHA-member organizations and others, seeking to enhance the impact of international ministries. Additionally, he is responsible for education regarding international outreach issues and encouraging CHA members' participation in various activities of international ministry. 

Mr. Compton lived in Haiti from 2000 to 2002, and he continued to work in support of health missions in the developing world after he returned to the U.S. He did so in his capacity as founding president and chief executive of Hospital Sisters Mission Outreach, a ministry organization based in Springfield, IL, and bringing surplus medical supplies from Midwest hospitals to medical missions in the developing world. 

Conference Presentation—"Social Justice & International Outreach: Dynamics of North-South Partnerships"

Compelled to continue Jesus’ mission of love and healing, U.S.-based Catholic organizations are continuing to reach out globally. This presentation will engage participants in discussion around the following: the dynamics that lead to promise and pitfalls in North-South partnerships; how Covid-19 and the challenges of new (novel) infectious diseases might reshape the nature of the global health partnerships between U.S Catholic health agencies and their counterparts from the global South; and Catholic Health Association (CHA) tools, research, and related resources for the journey.

David Gaus, MD, MPH

Founder and CEO
Andean Health & Development (AHD)

Dr. David Gaus is the founder and CEO of Andean Health and Development (AHD), a Madison, WI-based nonprofit which provides high quality, sustainable health care in rural Ecuador and operates a residency program for local family physicians. AHD’s services delivery and training model is one that has won Dr. Gaus several awards, including Social Entrepreneur of the Year (2010) from the World Economic Forum and the 2017 Global Humanitarian Award from the American College of Radiology. 

Dr. Gaus attended the University of Notre Dame and, after graduating with an accounting degree, had a soul-searching conversation with then-ND president, Fr. Theodore Hesburgh. This inspired him to spend two years volunteering at an orphanage in Ecuador. There, he witnessed the marginalization of a population of mostly women and children who lacked access to even basic health services. Changed forever, he returned to the U.S. and re-enrolled at Notre Dame to complete his pre-med studies. 

In 1992, he received his MD and master’s in public health and tropical medicine from Tulane University's School of Medical and Public Health. And in 1996, he and Fr. Hesburgh started AHD; Their pilot project was Pedro Vicente Maldonado (PVM) Hospital, which was financially self-sustaining by 2007. AHD has now expanded the PVM model to another underserved community—Santo Domingo—in Ecuador. David and his family live in Quito.

Conference Topic—"Horizontality, Hegemony, and Health Care: Reflections on South-North Partnerships"

This presentation reflects on how to manage a South-North relationship in health care delivery, including opportunities and potential pitfalls of such arrangements. How does medical hegemony, through the biomedical model, produce unintended consequences in low-income countries? How does one make the South an equal partner and prevent a colonialist mentality from the North?