College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences > Centers & Institutes > Center for World Catholicism & Intercultural Theology > World Catholicism Week > 2022 Speakers

2022 Speakers

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Keynote Speakers

Hosffman Ospino

Chair, Religious Education and Pastoral Ministry, Boston College
President, Academy of Catholic Hispanic Theologians of the United States (ACHTUS)
(Boston, MA)

Hosffman Ospino is an associate professor of theology and religious education at Boston College, School of Theology and Ministry, where he is also chair of the Department of Religious Education and Pastoral Ministry. He also serves as director of the university’s graduate programs in Hispanic Ministry. The principal investigator for several national studies on Hispanic Catholics, he is currently advancing a national study on how Hispanic Catholics discern vocation to ecclesial ministry. He recently concluded two national studies on how Catholic organizations support ministry with Hispanic youth and how Catholic schools support Latino faculty and leaders.

Dr. Ospino has authored/edited 15 books and more than 150 essays, academic and general. He serves on the boards of several national organizations, including the National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA). He is president of the Academy of Catholic Hispanic Theologians of the United States (ACHTUS) and an officer of the Catholic Theological Society of America (CTSA). 

Conference Keynote—The Fluid Reconstruction of Religious Identity among U.S. Hispanic and Latin American Catholic Youth across Cultural and Diasporic Borders

This presentation offers an analysis of key social, cultural, and spiritual dynamics that are reshaping processes of religious self-identification and ecclesial belonging among Catholic young people in the Americas today. It explores how regular processes of crossing borders, literally and metaphorically, during the last 50 years has given rise to fresher, more dynamic, and definitely more challenging ways of being church among the younger generations on the continent. The presentation offers pointers for imagining Catholic faith communities and spaces for religious meaning-making that are sincerely and creatively open to engaging emerging religious identities among U.S. Hispanic and Latin American youth as their lives intersect in virtual and global contexts of mutual influence. 

Brenda Noreiga

Member, Vatican's International Youth Advisory Body (IYAB)
Member, Maryknoll's Young Adult Empowerment Team (YAE)
(Brighton, MA)

Brenda Noriega is a young minister committed to accompaniment and evangelization. She has been serving God’s people and influencing her community since an early age at the parish, diocesan, regional and national level. She earned a master’s degree in pastoral ministries from the University of Santa Clara and collaborates on multiple national and international committees representing young people, including the International Youth Advisory Body (IYAB) for the Vatican Dicastery of Laity, Family, and Life. She is passionate about holistic and transformational ministry including life, dignity, justice, and mission, and currently, she is pursuing her PhD in theology and education at the Boston College School of Theology and Ministry.

Conference Keynote (PANEL)—There is Hope: Young People & Catholic Social Teaching on Solidarity

Who are my brothers and sisters? In the midst of a continuously polarized society, this seems to be a preeminent question we are all invited to discern. For young people in the United States, living in a privileged society, the painful realities of our brothers and sisters in other places who are facing war, oppression, extreme poverty, or the destruction of land may seem distant and alien. It is easy to fall into the culture of zapping and consumerism, living a faith that remains on the benches of our churches. But in Christus Vivit, Pope Francis invites young people to ask themselves if they can weep before the pain of those who are less fortunate than themselves, because “weeping is also an expression of mercy and compassion” (CV, 76). For young Catholics in the U.S., caring for the most vulnerable is an imperative that gives us purpose and vision as disciples; solidarity is our hope for building a civilization of love. 

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Member, Vatican's International Youth Advisory Body (IYAB)
Executive Director, Youth Organization of Association of Southeast Asian Nations
(Jakarta, Indonesia)

Agatha is a young peacebuilder from Indonesia who is passionate about conducting intercultural and interfaith programs. With ten years of experience in this field, she has conducted and participated in national and international events aimed at promoting tolerance and youth development. She serves as the executive director of AYO, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations' (ASEAN) Youth Organization, which is the largest youth-led organization in Southeast Asia promoting youth development in the region. Agatha has a background in international relations, has led regional youth programs, and has been invited to speak at international events related to youth inclusion, youth empowerment, and intercultural and interfaith dialogue. In November 2019, she was appointed to the International Youth Advisory Body (IYAB) established by the Vatican Dicastery for Laity, Family, and Life. She also translated Christus Vivit into Bahasa Indonesia, allowing its message to spread among Indonesian youth through dialogue, workshops, and digital content.

Conference Keynote (PANEL)—Young People and the Church: A True Journey of Walking Together

“Youth is a blessed time for the young and a grace for the Church and for the world” (Christus Vivit, 135). How are current relations between young people and the Church? Despite concerns of young people leaving the Church, many young people are voicing out their desire to be heard and more involved. Conversations on this theme have been increased by Pope Francis’ homily, “Young People are the ‘Now’ of God.” In addition, the 2018 Synod on Young People provided a path for journeying together with young people. So, how can young people and the Church walk together meaningfully? This presentation will take a look into the aspects of inclusion, synodality, and accompaniment of young people and the Church.

Emile Abou Chaar

Member, Vatican's International Youth Advisory Body (Beirut, Lebanon)
Clinical Pharmacist & Spiritual Care Practitioner, Centre Neuchâtelois de Psychiatrie
(Neuchâtel, Switzerland)

Currently serving as a spiritual care practitioner at the Centre Neuchâtelois de Psychiatrie hospital in Switzerland, Emile Abou Chaar is a 28-year-old Lebanese clinical pharmacist with a doctorate in pharmacy (PharmD) from Saint Joseph University in Beirut. Active in the parish movement and a dedicated member of the Maronite Church (an Eastern rite Catholic church in full communion with the Roman Catholic Church), Abou Chaar is committed to improving pastoral care in Lebanon for young people and medical patients. Since 2016, he has also served the young people of Antelias Maronite diocese as chair of its youth committee and as a volunteer in the patriarchal curia’s youth ministry in Bkerke. In addition, he has participated in the 2018 and 2019 Synod on Young People’s pre- and post- meetings, and in November 2019, the Vatican Dicastery for Laity, Family, and Life appointed him to its International Youth Advisory Body (IYAB).

Abou Chaar became passionate about the role of spirituality in health care in 2016, after the journal, Supportive Care in Cancer, published the results of his thesis on the impact of spirituality on quality of life, anxiety, and depression of cancer patients at Beirut’s Hotel-Dieu de France hospital. He decided to continue his studies, exploring the relationship between the human genome and “the God gene”; he began to pursue his bachelor’s degree in theology as well as a specialization in spiritual accompaniment in health care settings. Ultimately, Abou Chaar’s goal is to obtain a PhD in ethics, spirituality, and health care. He would like to teach at the university level in Lebanon, to continue his journey accompanying medical patients, and to promote human fraternity, ecumenism, and interreligious dialogue in the Middle East.

Integrating medicine and spirituality has given Abou Chaar the opportunity to open himself to the secularized multicultural environment (which itself promotes taking care of the spiritual dimension), to go beyond cultural and religious borders through the person-centered STIV-RePer model of spiritual care, and to learn about the political management of religion in Switzerland, which promotes this in its constitution. He believes that nothing is more beautiful than helping people (especially cancer patients) discover their spiritual resources…that the sick teach us more than what we teach them…that loving and being loved is the reason to continue living live in spite of all hardships…and that our 21st-century health care systems cannot fully function if spiritual accompaniment is not properly taken into account.

Conference Keynote (PANEL)—Rooted in Our Mission, We are the Salt and Light of the Middle East

This talk dives deep into the experience of Christian young people in the Middle East. It discusses their challenges and opportunities—war, economic crisis, Islam, secularism, interreligious dialogue—as well as how global culture change starts with the call for unity and synodality among the people of God and the call to Christians all over the world to help promote peace and human friendship in the Middle East.

Roundtable Speakers



Bishop, Diocese of Osogbo
Chair, Youth Committee, Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria
(Osogbo, Nigeria)

Most Revd. John Akin Oyejola was born in Lagos, Nigeria on the of May, 1963. He was ordained a priest of the Roman Catholic Church for the Catholic Diocese of Oyo by Most Revd. Julius Babatunde Adelakun (now Bishop Emeritus of Catholic Diocese of . Oyo). In 1998 and 1999, he obtained is PGD and Masters in Pastoral Leadership from All Hallows' College, Dublin. Between 1999 and 2004, he served as the Pastor of St. Ferdinand Catholic Church, Ogbomoso and also the youth chaplain in Oyo Diocese: 

Most Revd. John Akin Oyejola, before his elevation as Bishop was the National Chairman for the Directors of Religious Education in Nigeria between 2003 and 2009. In 2004, he was made the Director of St. Augustine Regional Pastoral Institute, an institute owned by the Lagos and Ibadan Provinces where he served until 2011. He thereafter proceeded on sabbatical to the United States where he obtained his Masters in Marriage and Family Therapy from St Mary's College Of California. Most Revd. John Akin Oyejola was ordained the Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Osogbo on the 30th June,.2016 and he is urrently the Episcopal Chair of Youth, Catholic Bishop Conference of Nigeria. 

Conference Presentation— African Youth and the Imperative of Holistic Formation for the Future of Global Catholicism  

The African youth represent hope and continuity of the faith legacy of the Church globally. This presentation focuses on the African youth within the Church, their strengths and potentials for the good of the universal Church, and discusses their need to be trained and formed to be able to bear witness to the faith in all circumstances they may find themselves. Pope Francis rightly observes that “youth is an original and stimulating stage of life, which Jesus himself experienced, thereby sanctifying it” (Christus Vivit, 22). This presentation proposes ways through which the youth can be given faith and character formation and can be actively involved in the mission of the Church both now and in the future, within the continent and outside. The African youth’s closeness to the Church, confidence in the Church as an institution that can be trusted, and their interest in spiritual activities combine to give them the advantage of usefulness in the global survival of Catholicism. As pointed out by Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI, the hope of Christianity and the Church is in Africa, and Africa’s young people obviously are the strong bearers of the light of faith on the continent. They therefore must be given holistic formation in faith, morals, and values.


Director of the National Biblical, Catechetical, and Liturgical Center 
(Bangalore, India)

A Catholic priest of the Diocese of Vellore, Tamil Nadu, India, Fr. Anthony John Baptist serves as the director of the National Biblical, Catechetical, and Liturgical Center (NBCLC) in Bangalore. Formerly, he was the executive secretary of the Conference of Catholic Bishops of India (CCBI) Commission for the Bible in Bengaluru. He has an MA in history, education, and sacred Scripture as well as a PhD in biblical theology from Madras University, India. He also holds a licentiate from the Pontifical Biblical Institute, Rome. He has served as the professor of sacred Scripture and vice rector at Sacred Heart College (Chennai). He was also rector of Interdiocesan Seminary in Vellore and general secretary of the Tamil Nadu Bishops’ Council's Commission for the Bible. He teaches as guest faculty at several institutions in India: the State University of Madras, Arul Kadal (Jesuit Regional Theologate), Chennai and Vidya Deep College (Bengaluru). Dharmaram Vidya Kshetram (DVK) in Bangalore, and St. Peter’s Pontifical Institute, also in Bangalore.

He serves on the editorial board of the international theological journal, Concilium, which is published in seven European languages. His area of study includes Old Testament exegesis, narrative criticism, feminist Biblical interpretation, and Dalit and subaltern readings of the Bible. Some of his publications include Together as Sisters: Hagar and Dalit Women (2012), Unsung Melodies from Margins (2014), Thus Spoke the Bible: Basics of Biblical Narrative (2016), Planted by the Spring: Biblical Themes for Today (2018), and a number of articles in national theological journals. 

Conference Presentation— Changing Attitude of Young Adults towards Religious Vocations Today in India

In the Indian context of the considerable reduction in the number of young opting for religious vocation as a way of life, this paper attempts to study the changing attitude of youth about the Religious Vocations in the present Indian social and ecclesial scenario.  The paper will be based on the questionnaire and interview with the youth, young leaders and priests and religious involved in the formation. I will also use some literatures available on the subject. 

Fr. Memo Campuzano, CM

Vice President for Mission & Ministry
DePaul University

A DePaul alumnus, Fr. Campuzano returned to his alma mater in March 2020 to serve as vice president for Mission and Ministry. Prior to this, he was on an assignment at the United Nations (UN), where he served as a representative for the Congregation of the Mission. He previously held multiple positions at DePaul, including director of the Office of Religious Diversity, university chaplain in Catholic Campus Ministry, as well as adjunct professor in the departments of Religious Studies, Catholic Studies, Modern Languages and the School for Public Service.

During this previous service at DePaul, Fr. Campuzano also helped design and implement an interfaith framework for service and learning called Vincentians in Action, a program that engages more than 2,000 DePaul students each year.

He has vast experience with the Vincentian Family, advocating for and developing systemic change programs for people left behind in our society. At the UN, he directed global advocacy on behalf of the Vincentian mission. He was the creator and coordinator for the Vincentian International Network for Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation and also served as chair of the UN Working Group to End Homelessness since 2017.

Born and raised in Colombia, Fr. Campuzano was ordained as a Catholic Vincentian priest in 1993. In 2018, he was among the 30 global experts invited to Rome by the Dicastery of Consecrated Life in the Vatican to discuss religious life.

Conference Presentation—Communal Discernment in the Context of the Synodal Process: Listening to the Voices of Young People

Young people are central to the synodal process the Church is living in right now. “The synodal process is, above all, a spiritual process. It is not a mechanical data-gathering exercise, nor is it a series of meetings and discussions. Synodal listening is aimed at discernment” (Vademecum, 2.2). This communal discernment is essential for the Church to listen to what the Spirit is telling us. The voices and experiences of young people are critical in this reciprocal listening discernment “to make hope flourish,” to live synodality, to motivate participation and ecclesial commitment, and to really advance the agenda of ecclesial reform.  


Sr.  Elizabeth Aduloju

Sub-Dean of Students Affairs, Catholic Institute of West Africa 
(Port Harcourt, Nigeria)

Sr. Elizabeth Titilayo Aduloju is a member of the congregation of the Sisters of St. Michael the Archangel and lectures at the Department of Pastoral/Communication Studies in the Catholic Institute of West Africa, Port Harcourt, Nigeria. She holds a Ph.D. and teaches media literacy and other communication courses. Her research areas include new media/digital literacy, media ethics, new media, social media etc., with a particular interest in helping children and youth make the best of the digital era, space, and time. Dr. Aduloju has published several articles in reputable national and international journals. She is at present a Sub-Dean of the Students Affairs at the Catholic Institute of West Africa and a member of the Media and Information Literacy Coalition of Nigeria. Sr. Elizabeth is currently the secretary of Television/Media Desk of the Catholic Association for Communication in Africa (SIGNIS-Africa) and the African Representative at the Media Education Desk at the SIGNIS-World.

Conference Presentation—Media Mindfulness: An Essential Tool for Faith Formation of African Youth in the Era of Digital Media Technology

Faced with a secularism culture, increase in societal ills and decline in Church attendance, the task of faith formation and education of young people is critical and immense in the age of overwhelmed digital media. Today young people of every race and social class are connected to one another and the world beyond through computers and phones in ways their parents and grandparents could scarcely imagine. These technologies — laptops, phones, social media, etc., offer users enormous power and many gifts particularly in the task of evangelisation and catechesis of the young people. Although these media are gifts, they do not always promote what is true, good, and beautiful, and therefore do not often support the dignity of the human person. No doubt, they are great tools for evangelisation but if misused, can lead to evil. For instance, the irresponsible use of the media can transform users into evil by being controlled by the power of the gadgets, alienated from real human contact and addicted in some cases to pornography, gambling, and games and so on.

Based on these, it is crucial for Catholic youth to know and understand how their values, and specifically the Gospel values they learn in catechesis and schools help them live happy and fulfilled lives within the all-encompassing digital environment. Thus, integrating a media mindfulness approach into faith formation can help young Catholics, as well as adults to question the media they consume and create. Hence, the Church through the wisdom of the Holy Spirit, understands this and has been advocating for media literacy education (media mindfulness) within faith formation to teach the youth how to critically engage the media they consume. Media mindfulness offers the youth the opportunity to see the relationship between faith and the media they use. With media mindfulness as basis for their formation and education, the youth would allow faith to guide their presence on blogs, chat rooms, social networking sites, and shape their text-messaging habits. Consequently, the Christian message will be real, liveable, and accessible to a generation that knows only the 24/7 wired world.


Cesar Kuzma

Professor of Systematic Theology, Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro 
(Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)

Cesar Kuzma holds a PhD in theology from the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro (PUC-Rio), Brazil, and is now a professor of systematic theology there, in the Department of Theology. He also serves as current president of SOTER (Society of Theology and Religious Sciences and is a member of other organizations as well: Catholic Theological Ethics in the World Church (CTEWC), the World Forum on Theology and Liberation (WFTL)’s permanent council and methodological committee, and the Ecumenical Association of Third World Theologians (EATWOT). Additionally, he works to develop various projects in partnership with AMERINDIA, the network of Latin American theologians. His research interests include eschatology/hope, hope and responsibility, liberation theology, ecclesiology/laity, ecclesiology/secularity, public theology, ethics, politics, decoloniality, and social issues and human rights.  

Conference Presentation—Brazilian Youth and the Challenge of New Pastoral Dynamics: Choices, Hopes, and the Horizon of the Common Home

This presentation closely examines the current condition of Catholic youth in Latin America, especially in the Brazilian reality—a reality with many challenges that demand new pastoral dynamics. The Second Vatican Council and the Bishops’ Conferences of Latin America gave our youth an ecclesial, social, and political dynamism, such that Catholic youth, through pastoral activities, were present at various important moments in the region’s history. But it’s impossible to say that there is a single “typical” young Latin American and Brazilian Catholic…it’s more accurate to describe our youth as a mosaic with several faces, each with a unique charisma. There are those who are strong in the Latin American tradition of the theology of liberation, but there are also the charismatics and neo-conservatives. This mosaic reflects the social and political choices and the horizon they look toward.  

In his pontificate, Pope Francis calls for a new era, where social and political commitment join the ecclesial, to build our common home, in the discovery of hope, a new hope. In Latin America’s and Brazil’s pastoral youth ministry, the most urgent question is to ask what it is that moves each young person in their search for meaning, both in life and in their faith. Following the example of a Church which goes forth, in synodality, it is important that this question also take into account the young people who are not in our communities, who do not share the same faith, but who share the same fight for justice, for life, for democracy, for human rights, and our common home. By paying attention to these hopes, we can bring young people together in building the Kingdom of God, through responsible and collective hopes that actualize and anticipate a new era. 

Jessica Joy Canderlario

Youth Pastoral Ministry Program Coordinator, CICM-Bukal ng Tipan 
(Taytay, Philippines) 

Jessica Joy Canderlario is a Filipina lay practical theologian, who has been working ful-ltime in the pastoral ministry for the past 30 years. She is presently the Pastoral Program Coordinator of Bukal ng Tipan (Wellspring of the Covenants), a mission spirituality center working for the vision of a participatory church in the world through journeying with dioceses and local communities in building basic ecclesial communities, facilitating retreats and pastoral skills training, and collaborating with different groups towards prophetic response in society. She was Executive Secretary for the Youth Desk of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conference between 2000-2011, in which she was involved in organizing the regular Asian Youth Days and Youth Ministers’ Meetings, fostering greater collaboration of youth commissions in the subregions, and involving youth movements and organizations in the regional level. She completed her Ph.D. in Practical Theology from St. Thomas University in Miami, Florida and finished her M.A. in Pastoral Ministry from Catholic Theological Union in Chicago. In 2011, she was appointed as expert delegate to the Synod on the New Evangelization.

Conference Topic—From the Wounds and Hopes of the Young: A Church in the Post-Pandemic

In this pandemic that continues to redefine life and reshape practices, the young are both victims and victors. While there are many challenges—online learning, the rise in mental health issues, and the loss of opportunities to live life fully—the young are also emerging leaders and innovators helping to bring about a church responsive to the new normal. As the “now of God,” young people are also the “now” of the church (Christus Vivit, 64). How can the young of today facilitate pathways to a post-pandemic church? How can their gifts become opportunities for reinventing and reinvigorating mission? The presentation hopes to explore possibilities and critique present mindsets in ecclesial life and ministry practices.


Prince Papa

Program Coordinator for Africa, Laudato Si' Movement 
(Nairobi, Kenya)

Prince Papa is the current program coordinator for Africa with the Laudato Si' Movement. In addition, he serves as the regional representative for Inclusive Green Economic Network for East Africa and chairs the board of DeCOALonise, a movement committed to stopping the development of coal and coal-related industries for a clean and sustainable energy future in Kenya and the region. He's also the founder of 350 Kenya Powershift, a nonviolent youth volunteer community organization aimed at mentoring the youth in becoming leaders in environmental campaigning and advocacy efforts.

Previously, Prince Papa worked with as the sub-Saharan field organizer. He has vast experience in movement-building, coalitions management, as well as offline and online organizing and campaigning. 

Conference Presentation—Catholic Youth and their Response to Climate Change and Development in East Africa

In 2015, Pope Francis's encyclical on care for our common home, Laudato Si' was released. In this document, he calls for dialogue amongst us on how to live in harmony with nature and other creation, calling for stronger actions aimed at combating climate change and biodiversity loss. With the growing appetite for fossil fuels investment in Africa, it has become necessary for the Catholic youth to be involved at various levels of discussions and actions directed towards influencing both attitude and policy changes to promote a renewed relationship with and care for God's creation. 

In the East African region, the governments of Uganda and Tanzania are partnering with Total Energies, a multinational oil corporation to construct what would be the world's longest heated oil pipeline, known as the proposed East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP). The Catholic youth have not been left behind in campaigning against this mega infrastructure which would see an increase in the amount of CO2 global emissions as well as have direct negative impacts on environment and community lives.

Saúl Zenteno-Bueno

Global Advocacy Team, International Movement of Catholic Students Pax Romana  
Professor of Social Sciences, Tecnológico de Monterrey
(Tuxtla Gutiérrez, Chiapas, Mexico)

Saúl Zenteno-Bueno is a professor of social sciences and student affairs coordinator at Tecnológico de Monterrey, Chiapas Campus. He also serves as the economic affairs policy officer at the United Nation's Major Group for Children and Youth, which works as an engagement mechanism for children and youth in some sustainable development-related policy processes at the United Nations. He is also part of the IMCS Pax Romana Advocacy Team at the United Nations. At the local level, Saúl serves as a member of the Citizens’ Advisory Council of Tuxtla Gutierrez City Hall and as an alternate councillor to the Electoral Board of the National Electoral Institute in Chiapas.

Saul holds a licenciatura in international business from the Universidad del Valle de México (UVM), a bachelor of science in business administration from Walden University, and an MA in education and teaching fromUTEL. He is currently pursuing another MA--in research in international relations with a specialization in regional and global political economy--at the Latin American Faculty of Social Sciences in Ecuador (FLACSO).

Conference Presentation—The Jugglers of Development

Through sustainable development, donor countries and entities established a new paradigm approach to development that placed "the eradication of poverty" at the center of international development and a set of Sustainable Development Goals. Making this happen also implies the balance of three spheres: social, environmental, and economical. This presentation questions, particularly through a Catholic lens, this development vision and the feasibility of balancing the three spheres with a particular focus on Latin American lessons.

Marinel Ubaldo

Founding Member, Youth Leaders for Environmental Action Federation (YLEAF)
Philippines' Country Coordinator, Fall 2021 UN Climate Change Conference of Youth (COY16)
(Tacloban City, Philippines)

Marinel Ubaldo is an advocate for climate justice and the environment. A registered social worker, she is one of the founders of the Youth Leaders for Environmental Action Federation, a youth-led organization based in Eastern Visayas that aims to mentor youth, both individuals and organizations, in climate advocacy. She also serves as the advocacy officer for Ecological Justice and Youth Engagement of Living Laudato Si' Philippines as well as the Philippine Focal Point for ClimateScience Olympiad. She most recently served as the Philippine Country Coordinator for UN COY16 Glasgow while co-leading the implementation of one of the most comprehensive youth gatherings this past year, the Local Conference of Youth 2021.

Marinel has been actively involved in educating communities--especially, youth and children--about climate change and the roles they can take to adapt and mitigate its effects. She has spoken to world leaders on behalf of Filipinos during the opening of the UNFCCC COP 21 in Paris and in UNFCCC COP 25 in Madrid. Also a petitioner, she acted as a Resource Person in the Climate Justice Liability Public Hearing during the Climate Week in New York in September 2018 and has been trained by former US Vice President Al Gore as a Climate Reality Leader. Her global campaign with Amnesty International, which called on the Philippine government to ensure the relocation of Super Typhoon Haiyan survivors, generated 528,070 actions from around the world. She keeps busy building impactful campaigns, forming strong collaborations with the government, social and environmental organizations, and the youth.

Most of all, she aims to empower and build agency among frontline communities around the world, so we can have a safer place to live. She tells her story on the global platform in order to shed light on the reality of climate change as well as the urgency for world leaders to keep their climate commitments and for the rest of the world to put those commitments into action.

Conference Presentation—The Role of Catholic Youth in Environmental and Sustainable Development

Drawing on her own extensive personal experience both internationally and at home in the Philippines, the speaker elaborates on the role of youth in environmental and sustainable development and the challenges that they face so far. Illustrating the great things that today's youth are capable of, she offers examples of specific actions and activities they have led in the past. 



Fr. Joe Fitzgerald

Principal organizer of the first World Indigenous Youth Gathering in 2019
Longtime missionary among the indigenous Ngäbe of Panama
(Soloy, Panama)

Originally from Philadelphia, Fr. Fitzgerald was ordained in 2005 in the Congregation of the Mission (Vincentians) and has since ministered amongst the indigenous Ngäbe people of Panama. The Vincentian mission amongst the Ngäbe covers a vast mountainous terrain of approximately 50 villages, many of which are only accessible by foot or horse. In addition to sacramental and pastoral ministries, agricultural and artisan projects, a significant part of ministry among the Ngäbe has been accompanying them in the struggle to maintain their cultural identity, as well as in defense of their lands which have been under threat from proposed mega-projects such as open-pit mineral mines and dams.

Fr. Fitzgerald has served as executive secretary of the National Coordination of Indigenous Ministry of the Panamanian Bishops Conference since 2016. In this capacity, he was a principal organizer for the first World Indigenous Youth Gathering as a pre-event to World Youth Day (WYD) 2019 in Panama. With a focus on indigenous identity, protection of creation and indigenous youth leadership, the gathering brought together indigenous youth from more than 40 peoples and languages. It received significant media attention and opened with a video message sent by Pope Francis, who later spoke of the indigenous youth gathering as one of the most significant aspects of WYD 2019.

Fr. Fitzgerald holds a PhD in theology from the Pontifical Bolivarian University in Colombia and is the author of Danza en la casa de Ngöbö: Resiliencia de la “Vida Plena” Ngäbe frente al neoliberalismo, published by Abya Yala Press of Quito, Ecuador, in 2019.

Conference Presentation—Taking Charge of Their Roots: Indigenous Youth Leadership in Church and Society 

In Latin America, the current vision of a synodal Church, where historically marginalized populations are recognized as protagonists and journeying together becomes normative, is frequently undermined by persistent colonial attitudes and structures prevalent. Indigenous youth face particular challenges in encountering spaces for serving in leadership as they struggle to maintain ancestral values, practices, and communal identity and simultaneously confront pressures to assimilate into the individualistic, consumption-driven model of broader society. By deepening their cultural roots, indigenous youth discover collaborative leadership models that lead towards a more inclusive and just Church and society. Implementing the indigenous theological methodology where traditional myth, ritual, and practice are recognized as the starting point, this presentation will highlight examples of the indigenous Ngäbe youth of Western Panama, where ancestral wisdom and indigenous leadership models are creating new paths in the construction of the otro mundo possible—“other possible world.” These youth have taken seriously the challenge of Pope Francis to take charge of their roots, “because from the roots comes the strength that will make you grow, flourish, and bear fruit” (World Indigenous Youth Gathering, 2019).  

Jeramie Molino

Religious Education Professor, Saint Louis University, Baguio City
Applied Theology Doctorate Program, De La Salle University (Manila)

Dr. Jeramie Molino has served as a professor at Saint Louis University, Baguio City (SLU Baguio), in the Department of Religious Education for 11 years now. She earned her first doctorate in educational management from SLU Baguio and is currently about to finish her second PhD in applied theology at De La Salle University, Manila. Her areas of research interest include empirical theology, religious education, youth spirituality and eco-theology.

She has participated on several local and international conferences in Asia recently, and her most recent publications, both collaborative works as well as her own, include the following: "The Role of Inclusive Language in an Interreligious Dialogue and Communications" (December 2018); "Engaging Pope Francis’ Laudato Si’ in the Discourse on Environmental Communication" (January 2019); "Environmental Awareness, Religious Attitudes, and Climate Change: Preliminary Considerations to Youth Dialogue on Ecology" (January 2021), and a newly developed environmental measure published in the Journal of Empirical Theology in Europe entitled "The Development and Validation of the Christian Environmentalism Scale (CES) from a Philippine Sample" (November 2021).

Conference Topic—Reviewing Catholic Youth Leadership in the Church through Religious Identity from a Filipino Sample

A joint presentation with Dr. Rito Baring

In the present study, we strive to know how religious identification may be associated with social motivation and translated into concrete actions favoring society. Data is drawn from two data sets: (1) a previous data set which checks how religious affiliation may be associated with one’s spiritual disposition and religious behavior and (2)  our present data set from youth informants involved in church leadership as volunteers.


Rito Baring

Rito Baring is Full Professor and former Chair of the Department of Theology and Religious Education of De la Salle University (DLSU), Manila. He earned his Doctorate in Education with specialization in Religious Education. His research interests include Empirical Theology, Religious Education, Christian Spirituality, survey research and Youth Studies. In DLSU he is a holder of several Professorial and Academic Chairs between 2007 to 2019. He is a member of the College of Reviewers for the International Journal of Children’s Spirituality (UK). He is an invited member of the Editorial Advisory Board of the International Journal of Evangelization and Catechetics (Catholic University of America) and the Journal for the Study of Religion and Ideologies. He has also peer reviewed for several online journals in Religious Studies and the Social Sciences by Springer, Sage and Routledge among others. He was a research fellow of the United board at the Chinese University of Hong Kong in 2008.

Being engaged in interdisciplinary research in Religious Studies he completed several internally and externally funded research projects in collaboration with researchers from other disciplines: Psychology, Sociology, History, Philosophy and Engineering. His collaborations also brought him to share his academic space with junior scholars from other schools in the Philippines and seasoned scholars outside the country through memberships in professional associations such as the International Society for the Empirical Research in Theology in Europe. His engagements in research brought him to cross paths with scholars working on environment and sustainability, religion, religious studies, politics, cultural studies, Philosophy and education. These research collaborations lead to several publications in highly reputable international academic Journals. He is also involved in the training of teachers in Philippine schools for research capacity building in the field of Humanities and Social Sciences.

Conference Topic— Reviewing Catholic Youth Leadership in the Church through Religious Identity from a Filipino Sample

A joint presentation with Dr. Jeramie Molino

In the present study, we want to know how may religious identification be associated with social motivation and translated into concrete actions favoring society. Data is drawn from two data sets: First, a previous data set to check how religious affiliation may be associated with one’s spiritual disposition and religious behavior; second, our present data set from youth informants involved in church leadership as volunteers.


Fr. Charles Ssennyondo

Chair of Dogmatic/Systematic Theology, St. Mary's National Seminary Ggaba

Fr. Charles Ssennyondo, was born in Uganda. He studied theology at the University of St. Mary of the Lake, near Chicago, where he graduated with a Licentiate in Sacred Theology (STL) and a Doctorate in Sacred Theology (STD). He is currently the Chair of Systematic Theology at St. Mary’s National Seminary, Ggaba in Uganda. He is a co-author of the Waliggo Journal, a Philosophical and Theological Journal published by Uganda National Seminaries. 

Before his career as theology teacher in the seminary, he had taught in a high school seminary and at the same time worked as a youth chaplain in a parish, as well as a chaplain of two big neighboring high schools. He did this for over five years. He loves young people and while teaching theology in the seminary, he finds time and involves himself in the training and mentoring of young people in YES (Youth Encountering the Savior) Center, a youth center in the archdiocese of Kampala.

He has worked in different ministries including being a Pastor in a parish, Vice Chancellor and later Chancellor of his diocese of Kasana-Luweero in Uganda. He is a trained teacher, and coupled with his love of the youth, he was recently appointed chairperson of the Board of Governors of St. John’s High School, a catholic founded high school in his diocese. He loves music and he is the music director at St. Mary’s National Seminary Ggaba. He also loves soccer and for a couple of years was the sports chaplain at the seminary.

CONFERENCE TOPIC: Catholic Youth in a Relativistic World

This presentation will focus on the struggle that today’s youth face in our world’s relativistic culture in which they have been born and live and which impacts their religious beliefs. It will describe the threats to Catholic culture that increasingly influence our young people, including society’s general dismissal of God, the decline of religious expression in the public arena, and the denial of universal values in many spheres of life. Acknowledging the challenges of remaining Catholic in this context, this talk explains the positive action that our young people can take, and are taking, to counteract this and continue to live their faith.


Jodi Mikalachki

Associate Professor of English, University of Burundi
(Bujumbura, Burundi) 

Jodi Mikalachki is an associate professor of English at the University of Burundi's Institute of Applied Pedagogy in Bujumbura. A Canadian by birth and upbringing, she did her initial degrees at the University of Toronto in modern languages and English literature, followed by an interdisciplinary doctorate at Yale University. She taught on the faculty of Wellesley College in Massachusetts for 15 years, moving to Burundi in 2008, where she served as a rural teacher and teacher trainer before joining the University of Burundi in Bujumbura. She has lectured in Africa, Europe, and the United States on Burundian responses to genocide and civil war, from nonviolent strategies for narrating conflict in contemporary Burundian literature to the historical witness and legacy of the Martyrs of Fraternity of Buta, who refused at gunpoint to separate by ethnicity when their school was attacked during Burundi's 1993-2005 civil war. She has also translated two books by Burundian authors that speak to and resist the nation's recent history of political violence: Zacharie Bukuru's We Are All Children of God: The Story of the Forty Young Martyrs of Buta—Burundi (Paulines Africa, 2015) and Antoine Kaburahe's Hutsi: In the Name of Us All (Iwacu, 2019).

Her own research focuses on gender, nationalism, and nonviolent responses to grief and loss, particularly in contexts of political manipulation and conflict. In addition to recent essays on Burundian genocide and civil war literature, she has also published an article on "Fraternity, Martyrdom and Peace in Burundi: The Forty Servants of God of Buta," which appears in the Fall 2021 issue of the Journal of Global Catholicism. Currently a research fellow at DePaul University's Center for World Catholicism and Intercultural Theology, she is working on the history, theology, and politics of martyrdom and its commemoration. She is particularly interested in emerging testimonies from youth in the global south, and in the Church's recognition of collective national witness to sacrificial love in contexts of political violence, including the Martyrs of Algeria (2018), the Polish Martyrs or Martyrs of World War II (1999), and the Martyrs of Uganda (1964). She is writing a book about the Martyrs of Fraternity of Burundi, whose cause was opened in 2019 in the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. Destined for a general audience, the book will offer a contextualized understanding of violence and its transformation in contemporary Africa. It will also highlight the role of African Catholics and Catholic institutions led by Africans in overcoming genocidal division, demonstrating the effectiveness of enculturated African Catholicism in mobilizing youth to resist genocidal manipulation for the transformation of their communities and nations.

CONFERENCE TOPIC: Choosing Love in Contexts of Political Violence: The Martyrs of Fraternity of Burundi

During Burundi's 1993-2004 civil war, students at Buta Minor Seminary were ordered at gunpoint to separate by ethnicity—Hutus over here, Tutsis over there! They chose instead to join hands and affirm their common identity as children of God, resisting the political manipulation of the war to offer a courageous testimony to fraternal love. The forty students who were killed—Hutus and Tutsis together—are popularly venerated by Burundians as the Martyrs of Fraternity, their example serving to turn the nation away from violence and retribution and toward reconciliation and social cohesion in contexts ranging from civil war to conflict within families. As Burundi celebrates the silver jubilee of the Burundi Martyrs' transformational witness to fraternal love in 2022, we consider their legacy and the light they offer to the global church and the world.

Flora Pasquereau

Clinical psychologist for victims of violent conflict
UN Special Criminal Court (SCC) 
(Bangui, Central African Republic)

Flora Samba Pasquereau is a mother of three and a woman who identifies with three continents—Europe, Africa, and America—and also speaks many languages. A clinical psychologist and psychopathologist who completed her studies in France, she is also a registered teacher, registered psychotherapist, and family mediator. Born and raised in the Central African Republic (CAR), she has resided in Canada since 2006 but travels home often to work as a clinical psychologist for the United Nations’ Development Programme (UNDP)’s Special Criminal Court (SCC) in the nation's captial of Bangui.

Her main work with the SCC is to accompany victims/witnesses but also alleged perpetrators of acts related to armed conflicts. In a nation where so many vulnerable people are dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) due to war and political instability, Pasquereau’s skills as a psychologist are desperately needed. For a report to the UN’s Special Criminal Court, she participated in three years of research and more than 18,000 consultations with clinicians to document and analyze the types and trends of trauma—related to conflicts—that people are experiencing in CAR.

While she’s on the ground in CAR, she also offers counseling, consultations, and a few psychology courses at Bangui University, and she is sometimes a guest speaker for CAR medical faculty. In 2014, Pasquereau also founded a mental health NGO in CAR called Obouni, which in the local Mbaka language means “no matter what, we will succeed.” Through Obouni, she trained a dozen staff to provide basic therapy and run groups at hospitals, clinics, etc., in the CAR capital of Bangui, and she herself has worked with at least 1,000 people to date. And her work is helping to develop resilience and social cohesion among the people. (Read this 2020 article about her, “4.6 million people, one psychologist: The CAR’s mental health crisis.”)

Over the last couple of years, she has also championed microfinance projects for ESCA (Espérance et Solidarité pour la Centrafrique), a women’s grassroots organization based in the CAR. She has published articles in France, Canada, and CAR, and is a frequent guest on Canadian and CAR radio and television news shows, discussing mental health, recovery, and other social issues which affect families and children in the midst of social changes.

When she’s home in Toronto with her family, she focuses on them and tries to relax/recharge before traveling again to Bangui. If you’re wondering how she juggles and deals with all that she does, she would tell you, “God is in control, and the sky is the limit.”

CONFERENCE TOPIC: Innovative Advice and Guidance in the Face of Trauma

Description to come

Chiaretto Yan

Visiting Professor, National Catholic Seminary of Beijing (China)
Visiting Professor, University of Saint Joseph (Macau)

Kin Sheung Chiaretto Yan lives in Shanghai and serves as a visiting professor at the University of Saint Joseph in Macau as well as at the National Catholic Seminary of Beijing in China; he is also a research fellow at the Sophia University Institute in Italy. He holds a doctorate from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome and an MA in Oriental religions and cultures from the University of Santo Tomas in Manila. He is the author of Evangelization in China: Challenges and Prospects (2014), il Vangelo oltre la Grande Muraglia (2015), and Season for Relationships (2018) on youth and Church mission in China.

CONFERENCE TOPIC: How Young Catholics Live their Faith and Navigate Changes in China

In China, Catholics comprise less than 1% of the population. In this talk, Yan will first speak of the Church in China in the context of urban-rural mobility and second, how Catholics--especially the youth--adapt to changing situations and new religious policies. Third, he will share concrete experiences of how they seek to transform challenges into opportunities. Though small in number, Chinese Catholics are aware of a historical responsibility in times of difficulty, and in due time, their testimonies may change the landscape of the Church in China.