College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences > Centers & Institutes > Center for World Catholicism & Intercultural Theology > World Catholicism Week > 2018 Speakers

2018 Speakers

In early February, we learned that Marguerite Barankitse, due to unforeseen circumstances, can no longer attend as one of our keynote speakers; however, in order to contribute to the discussion, she is sending a special video message to be shared at the conference.


Rosemary Nyirumbe (St. Monica Girls' Tailoring Centre—Gulu, Uganda)

Sr. Rosemary Nyirumbe, SSHJ
Director of St. Monica Girls' Tailoring Centre serving girls formerly held captive by the Lord's Resistance Army
One of TIME's 100 Most Influential People of 2014
(Gulu, Uganda)

A Catholic nun whose humanitarian work has drawn the attention of Bill and Chelsea Clinton, Forest Whitaker and other high-profile supporters, Sr. Rosemary Nyirumbe has dedicated her life to helping girls formerly held captive by warlord Joseph Kony and the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA).

A native of Paidha, Uganda, she began serving the people of her country after joining the Catholic order of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in 1976. As director of St. Monica’s since 2001, Sr. Rosemary has given hope to more 2,000 young women, many of whom were abducted, raped, tortured, and forced to kill their own family members as soldiers in Kony’s army. For 25 years, Kony and the LRA terrorized northern Uganda. Though the war is over now, the decades of brutal conflict have deeply scarred the nation's people. Child soldiers return to the very communities against which they committed violent crimes, and many of the girls carry with them a constant reminder of their abuse: their captors' children.

In addition to providing a safe harbor for the former abductees, who are often shunned and persecuted by the people in their home villages, Sr. Rosemary has given them a way to support themselves through job training in tailoring, catering, and other skills. Currently, approximately 250 girls and 250 children live at St. Monica’s. Sr. Rosemary also oversees a second school in Atiak, Uganda, and a third is under construction in Torit, South Sudan.

Sr. Rosemary was recognized as a CNN Hero in 2007 and as one of TIME's 100 Most Influential People of 2014. Her inspiring story is also told in Sewing Hope, a documentary produced by filmmaker Derek Watson and narrated by Oscar winner Forest Whitaker, and a book of the same name co-authored by Reggie Whitten and professional writer Nancy Henderson (Dust Jacket Press, 2013). All proceeds from book sales go to help the girls at St. Monica’s.

Melinda Roper, MM (Maryknoll Sisters Congregation—Darién, Panama)

Melinda Roper, MM
Past President, Maryknoll Sisters Congregation
Missionary & Co-Director, Pastoral Center of Santa Fe
(Darién, Panama)
Originally from Chicago, Illinois, Sr. Melinda Roper attended Michigan State University and then entered the Maryknoll Sisters Congregation in Maryknoll, New York. She served in various roles with the Maryknoll Sisters, beginning with Sisters’ Novitiate at Topsfield, Massachusetts, from 1960-63. She then taught at Colegio Monte Maria in Guatemala from 1963-65.

The following year, Sr. Melinda joined the Pastoral Center in Mérida, Yucatán, Mexico, where she was involved in catechetical work. She spent a year in Chiapas, Mexico, studying the dialect of the indigenous peoples. In 1971, she earned her BA in theology from Loyola University Chicago. Returning to Guatemala, she served as a staff member in the Centro Apostólico in Huehuetenago.

After 14 years of serving in Central America, Sr. Melinda was elected president of the Maryknoll Sisters Congregation, an office she held from 1978 to 1984. Just two years into her role as president, on December 2, 1980, four U.S. churchwomen (among them, two Maryknoll sisters) were murdered in El Salvador. As National Catholic Reporter's Global Sisters Report describes in June 2017 article, "[u]nder her leadership, the Maryknoll sisters fought for justice, for the churchwomen and for those they represented. At a time when Americans were mostly unaware of the U.S. role in training and financing right-wing death squads terrorizing much of Central America, the Maryknolls awakened the faith community in particular and the country in general. The churchwomen became a symbol for a system that was repressing and killing tens of thousands of innocents, many simply for the profession of their faith. Their deaths helped inspire Central American solidarity groups throughout the U.S. and a sanctuary movement that gave shelter to refugees fleeing the violence."
During her years as president, Sr. Melinda received various honorary degrees, including the Doctor of Humane Letters from Loyola University Chicago, Emmanuel College, Fordham University, Catholic University of America, Regis College, New School of Research, and Albertus Magnus College.

In 1985, Sr. Melinda was assigned to the Vicariate of Darién, Panama, where she remains in ministry today, 32 years later. In this tropical jungle region, she is engaged there with a team of Maryknoll Sisters who live and work with indigenous, Afro-Darienitas and mestizo settlers. For many years, the Sisters traveled to 38 different communities instructing Delegates of the Word, catechists, teachers, and young mothers. Their main objective was the formation of Ecclesial Basic Communities, small groups that pray and work for a more just and compassionate world. Through the years the Sisters’ ministries have evolved to be more ecological given their recognition of the importance of the tropical rainforest to the survival and well-being of our planet. Much of their ministry happens in Darién's Pastoral Center of Santa Fe, whose purpose is for the human community to learn to live in harmony with the whole community of life.

Keynote Presentation—"The Wind Blows Where It Will (John 3)"

We live in a curious moment in history. Although some would say that this is a wonderful time to be alive, many people live without simple luxuries, including electricity. Most of us who live with it don't understand much about what it really is , yet we use it at will, the the experience and illusion of control that it brings. We just have to pay the electric bill. How do our experience and the illusion of control play out in our lives as women and men; as persons of faith; in our religious practice; and as members of the Catholic Church? I have lived without electricity, and it is a wonderfully freeing experience. We live where day is day and night is night. I believe that the wind blows more freely without electricity—that is, without our illusion of control. I hope to share life experiences and questions as a woman in the church having learned full well that loving kindness, compassion, and beauty blow freely where they will and often not where we think to look for them.


Marguerite Barankitse (Maison Shalom—Kigali, Rwanda)

Marguerite Barankitse
Founder and President, Maison Shalom
(Kigali, Rwanda)

Marguerite (Maggy) Barankitse first worked as a teacher at a secondary school in Burundi but was fired for protesting against discrimination between Hutus and Tutsis. She then went to work as a secretary for the Catholic bishop in Ruyigi. She had a dream of ethnic harmony, and despite mounting tensions in Burundi, she put that dream into practice by adopting seven children: four Hutus and three Tutsis. 

Violence escalated between Hutus and Tutsis, and following the assassination of Burundi's first democratically elected president, a group of armed Tutsis descended on Ruyigi in October of 1993. They were there to kill the Hutu families hiding in the bishop’s estate. Maggy managed to hide many of the children, but she was caught by the gunmen. They beat and humiliated her, forcing her to watch as they killed 72 Hutus. But she refused to divulge where the children were hidden. Ultimately, she was only spared because she was a Tutsi.

After this terrible ordeal, she gathered her adopted children and the surviving orphans and hid them in a nearby school in Ruyigi. As more and more children sought shelter with her, she decided to create a small NGO: Maison Shalom, the "house of peace." Maggy’s house was, and is, open to children of all ethnic origins: Tutsi, Hutu, and Twa.

In subsequent years, Maison Shalom was one of the few places in Burundi where Hutus and Tutsis lived together. Since 1993, over 10,000 children and youth have benefitted from Maison Shalom. Before the current crisis in Burundi, Maison Shalom employed more than 270 people, including nurses, psychologists, and educators who implement special  projects for the children.

Maggy set up small income-generating initiatives run by the youth themselves, such as a guesthouse, a cinema, a car workshop, etc. When they become independent, the young people receive a small house and a plot of land. Maison Shalom also helps internally displaced persons and returning Burundian refugees to reintegrate in Ruyigi and to trace their missing relatives.

In April 2015, after speaking out against the third presidential term of Pierre Nkurunziza, Maggy was ultimately forced to flee Burundi to Rwanda. But her refugee status did not stop her: she has now opened a branch of Maison Shalom in Rwanda. Among Maggy's many honors are the 2008 Opus Prize, the World's Children's Prize for the Rights of the Child, the North-South Prize, the Four Freedoms Award, and in 2016, she was the inaugural recipient of the Aurora Prize for Awakening Humanity.


Maricarmen Bracamontes, OSB (St. Scholastica's Center for the Development of Women—Torreón, Mexico)

Maricarmen Bracamontes, OSB

Superior, Bread of Life Monastery
Founding member and instructor, St. Scholastica's Center for the Development of Women
(Torreón, Mexico)

A Benedictine nun, Maricarmen Bracamontes is the superior at Bread of Life Monastery (Monasterio Pan de Vida) in Torreón, Coahuila, Mexico. She is also a founding member and instructor at the monastery's St. Scholastica's Center for the Development of Women (Centro de Desarrollo Integral de las Mujeres, Santa Escolástica). She completed her licentiate in theology at the Jesuit seminary at Ibero-American University (Universidad Iberoamericana, or IBERO) in Mexico City, and went on to participate in the DMin program at Catholic Theological Union (CTU) in Chicago.

Maricarmen serves in an advisory capacity on initial and ongoing formation for religious communities in Mexico and other countries in Latin America, the Caribbean, the United States, and Europe. Her areas of interest are Biblical spirituality, the theology of consecrated life, human development, and affectivity and sexuality in the celibate person. She studies all of the above with a holistic, interdisciplinary perspective in the context of the culture of innovation and the building of knowledge societies.

Since 2006, Maricarmen has formed part of the Theological Team for CLAR, the Latin American and Caribbean Confederation of Religious, and was the Team's coordinator from 2009-12. She has worked closely with the CLAR Commission for Religious life inserted among the poor and the Biblical Spirituality Commission.

Conference Presentation—Women, Education, and Theology in Latin America and the Caribbean: An Initial Approach

In this talk, I will address Catholic women's access to education and theological teaching in Latin America and the Caribbean and its challenges for the future; it is a work in progress, an uphill road. The theological education of women, strictly speaking, is not considered "theology." "Theology" is reserved for the preparation of future ordained ministers. Women face many obstacles in theological education, which for them is considered more experiential and "catechetical" than academic.

Agnes M. Brazal (De La Salle University—Manila)

Agnes M. Brazal
Associate Professor of Theology
De La Salle University
Agnes M. Brazal is associate professor of theology at De La Salle University in Manila, Philippines. She is also past president and a founding member of DaKaTeo (Catholic Theological Society of the Philippines) and one of the first coordinators and "mothers" of the Ecclesia of Women in Asia (an association of Catholic women theologians in Asia). She has been a planning committee member of the Catholic Theological Ethics in the World Church since 2007; an editorial board member of the journals Theological Studies, Asian Christian Review and Budhi; and an international advisory board member of Louvain Studies. She obtained her STL/MA and STD/PhD in theology at the Catholic University of Leuven.

Among her various publications are her co-authored book on Intercultural Church: Bridge of Solidarity in the Migration Context (Borderless Press, 2015) and the co-edited Feminist Cyberethics in Asia: Religious Discourses on Human Connectivity (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014); Transformative Theological Ethics: East Asian Contexts (Ateneo de Manila University Press, 2010); Faith on the Move: Toward a Theology of Migration in Asia (AdMU, 2008); and Body and Sexuality: Theological-Pastoral Reflections of Women in Asia (AdMU, 2007). Additionally, she has published articles in journals such as Theological Studies, Concilium, Questions Liturgiques, Asian Christian Review, Asian Horizons, Hapag, and others.

In 2003, she was awarded the MWI (Institute of Missiology—Missio, Aachen) prize in the international academic essay contest on contextual theology and philosophy on the theme, “Religious Identity and Migration.” And her book Body and Sexuality was a 2007 National Book Award finalist, an honor given by the Manila Critics Circle and the National Book Development Board.

Conference Presentation—"Church as Sacrament of Yinyang Harmony: Toward a More Incisive Participation of Lay/Women in the Church"

In this presentation, I propose a development of the Federation of Asian Bishops' Conference (FABC)'s theology of church as a sacrament of harmony, drawing in particular from the East Asian concept of yinyang unity and integration. In Daoist beliefs, yin and yang are the generative forces of the cosmos whose blending and balancing result in harmony or the unimpeded flow of Qi/Ch'i. Yin and yang are opposite, complementary, non-dualistic, and fluid qualities of beings/things relative to particular contexts. I hold that the yinyang symbolism can be fruitful for reimagining man/woman, cleric/lay, and other dualites in the Church as fluid polarities.

James J. Carney (Creighton University—Omaha, NE, U.S.A.)

James J. Carney (Creighton University)
Associate Professor of Theology and Director of African Studies Program
Creighton University
(Omaha, NE, U.S.A.)
James J. (Jay) Carney is associate professor of theology and director of the African Studies program at Creighton University. His research focuses on modern Catholic history and theology in East Africa, particularly in the Great Lakes region. His first book, Rwanda Before the Genocide: Catholic Politics and Ethnic Discourse in the Late Colonial Era (Oxford UP, 2014), won the African Studies Association's 2015 Bethwell A. Ogot prize for best book in East African Studies. Currently, he is co-editing a book with Paulist Press entitled Social Reconciliation in the Catholic Tradition. He is also collaborating with Jonathan L. Earle on a new critical biography of Benedicto Kiwanuka, Uganda's only Catholic prime minister who was later assassinated under Idi Amin.

At Creighton, Dr. Carney teaches general introductory courses on the Christian tradition and more specialized courses in Church history, African Christianity, the Rwanda genocide, political theology, social reconciliation, and sport and spirituality. He has also taken students on summer immersion courses in Tanzania. As director of African Studies, he has initiated an annual "Africa Rising Week" in September, designed to bring together the Creighton community and the Omaha African community around a variety of academic, social, service, and spiritual events.

Dr. Carney holds a BA in history and political science from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, an MDiv from Duke University Divinity School, and a PhD in church history from The Catholic University of America. He is a married Catholic layman with four children. He and his family look forward to spending much of his 2018-19 sabbatical year in Uganda where he will be completing research on a new book project exploring postcolonial Catholic leadership in Uganda. His DePaul presentation is drawn from early research on this project.

Conference Presentation—"Solidarity on the Streets: Catholic Women's Leadership in Modern Uganda"

Public leadership in Africa extends far beyond the government corridors, and many of the most influential and reliable leaders hail from Catholic communities. Although often overshadowed by their male counterparts, Catholic women have also played critical leadership foles throughout the continent. In this presentation, I analyize the social impact, spiritual visions, and leadership styles of two important Catholic women in modern Uganda: Sr. Rose Mystica Muyinza (1938-2009), who became renowned in the 1980s and '90s for her work with vulnerable women and orphaned children in the midst of civil war and Uganda's HIV-AIDS crisis, and Ms. Rosalbe Oywa (1953-present), a lay activist who lost her husband and nearly her own life during the early days of the Lord's Resistance Army insurgency in 1986. Both women are notable for their grassroots leadership roles, living with and speaking from marginalized communities.

Rekha Chennattu, RA (Jnana-Deepa Vidyapeeth Pontifical Institute—Pune, India)

Rehka Chennattu, RA
Professor of Biblical Studies
Jnana-Deepa Vidyapeeth, Pontifical Institute of Philosophy and Religion
(Pune, India)
Rekha M. Chennattu is professor of Biblical studies and an aassociate faculty member at Jnana-Deepa Vidyapeeth, Pontifical Institute of Philosophy and Religion in Pune, India. She is also the provincial superior of the Congregation of the Religious of the Assumption (RA), an Indian province of the RA since May 2011.

She was promoted to the rank of professor of theology in 2010 by the Congregation for Catholic Education (CCE), in consultation with, and with the approval of, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) at the Vatican in Rome. She was a participant (auditor) at the Synod of Bishops on New Evangelization in October 2012. She is a member of numerous organizations such as the Ecclesia of Women in Asia and the Indian Women Theologians Forum; since January 2017, she has also been a member of the FABC-OTC (Federation of Asian Bishops Conference's Office of Theological Concerns).
She holds a licentiate in Scripture from the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome and a PhD in Biblical studies from the Catholic University of America in Washington, DC. Since 1996, she has taught Scripture in India and abroad and presented papers at various national and international conferences. She has published more than 90 scholarly articles in journals and books in India and abroad, and some of these articles have been translated from English into more than 20 European and Asian languages. Her books include Johannine Discipleship as a Covenant Relationship (Hendrickson Publishers, 2006) and two forthcoming titles: Biblical Women as Agents of Social Change and A New Commentary on John's Gospel from Indian and Feminine Perspectives.

Conference Presentation—"Women's Leadership in the Church: Biblical Insights from an Indian Perspective"

In this talk, I shall first present a few women leaders from the Old and New Testaments, reading their stories from an Indian perspective. Then, I shall reflect on the paradigm of leadership emerging from the stories of biblical women, and I will follow this by sharing some of my own experiences. I will conclude with a reflection on the implications of the biblical women for the leadership in the global Church.

Tandiwe Lucia Chipoka (International Order of St. Luke the Physician—Harare, Zimbabwe)

Tandiwe Lucia Chipoka
Member, International Order of St. Luke the Physician Healing & Deliverance Ministry
Member, Anglican Mothers' Union
(Harare, Zimbabwe)

On March 23, we learned that Ms. Chipoka cannot join us because of unforeseen complications with the visa process. However, she will send the written copy of her presentation for us to present during the "Grassroots Church Communities" roundtable.

A Zimbabwe native, Mrs. Tandiwe Lucia Chipoka was raised in a Christian family and was baptised and confirmed in the Catholic Church. After attending Commercial Careers College for professional training in secretarial studies, she was employed in 1982 by the National Railways of Zimbabwe where she rose in the ranks to become a branch head secretary to the Eastern Area manager in Harare.

Today, she serves as a member of the Anglican Mothers’ Union working with the Roman Catholic Sacred Heart Guild. She is also an active member of the International Order of St. Luke the Physician, a healing and deliverance ministry. Her role in this ministry includes intercession, counseling, teaching the Word, and doing charitable work among those in need of food and clothing, including home-based care for the sick. She has also worked closely with the following organizations:

Conference Presentation—"Pillars of the Church"

We live in an ever-changing world that has been turned into a global village where cultures, languages, and businesses have been affected. The church has not been spared. In the early church, women were not allowed to take leadership positions, but we have seen a paradigm shift in which some churches are now ordaining women as pastors, priests, and bishops. The Catholic Church has been slower to respond to the ordination of women, but this has not deterred them from taking active leadership roles. Their leadership includes preaching the word of God, serving during Mass, leading devotions, visiting and caring for the sick, and counseling.

Emilce Cuda (Pontifical Catholic University of Argentina—Buenos Aires)

Emilce Cuda (Pontifical Catholic University of Argentina)
Research Professor of Theology
Department of Theology, Pontifical Catholic University of Argentina (UCA)
(Buenos Aires)

In addition to her faculty position at the Pontifical Catholic University of Argentina (UCA), Emilce Cuda holds a similar position in the University of Buenos Aires (UBA)'s Philosophy Department and is also an associate professor in the Philosophy Department of the National University Arturo Jauretche (UNAJ) in Buenos Aires. Currently, she also serves as the Latin American president of Catholic Theological Ethics in the World Church (CTEWC) and the International Political Science Association (IPSA) for Religion and Politics and as coordinator of the international "Theology, Ethics, and Politics" research team through CLASCO, the Latin American Council of Social Sciences, in the company of theologians such as Juan Carlos Scannone. 

An active member of the Argentine Theological Society (SAT), Emilce belongs as well to the academy of the Escuela Social (Social School) within CEBITEPAL, the Pastoral-Biblical-Theological Center for Latin America, created as a training and formation body by the Latin American Bishops' Conference. She holds both her MA and PhD in moral theology from UCA, and among the books she has published are the following:

Additionally, she has published numerous book chapters on theology and politics in the company of authors such as James Keenan, SJ, as well as over 30 journal articles on these topics. As a conference speaker, she has traveled throughout Latin America and to Norway, Sweden, the UK, the U.S., Canada, Italy, and Spain, and since 2013, she has also organized several international conferences in both the UK and Argentina.

Conference Presentation—"The Woman and the People: A Symbolic Language in the New Populist Style"

In the Argentine current of liberation theology known as "theology of the people," wisdom is that which manifests itself in the symbolic language of the poor, those among the people who have no public voice. Wisdom is that which is expressed outside the voice, word, language. Wisdom is an instant in which you are face to face with the truth—the moment that everything is unknown because everything is known. It is savored beyond words and language. Wisdom is gesture and passion. For Jacques Lacan, the woman is a teacher of this symbolic language of wisdom, and for Juan Carlos Scannone, some of the Latin American people are as well. Like the woman, the people whose voice is impeded are made present with their demand through symbol. This is why only the people, and the woman, can know, can taste, wisdom. What relationship can there be between women and emancipation in the field of politics? Developing this question from an interdisciplinary dialogue between theology, politics, and pyschoanalysis can make it possible to understand current populisms, the new passionate style of democracies, their symbolic languge, and the link with female leaders established by the people.

Neomi DeAnda (University of Dayton—Dayton, OH, U.S.A.)

Neomi DeAnda (University of Dayton—Dayton, OH, U.S.A.)
Assistant Professor of Religious Studies
University of Dayton
(Dayton, OH, U.S.A.)
Raised between El Paso and Corpus, Christi, Texas, Neomi De Anda is a Tejana scholar/activist and Catholic Lay Marianist, serving as assistant professor of religious studies at the University of Dayton. She holds a PhD in constructive theology, and her research interests include the following: Latinas and Latin American women writers in religion (1600-1900); Christology; Latin@ theology; theology and breast milk; the intersection of race and migrations in conjunction with the Marianist Social Justice Collaborative Racial & Immigrant Justice Team; and developing a border theology in partnership with the Hope Border Institute.

She currently serves the Academy of Catholic Hispanic Theologians of the United States (ACHTUS) as its vice president. Her honors include the Louisville Institute First Book for Minority Scholars grant and fellowships from the Hispanic Theological Initiative and the Wabash Center for Teaching and Learning in Religion and Theology. Neomi gives much credit for her work to her roots at St. Pius X Catholic Community in El Paso and St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, Texas.

Conference Presentation—"A Woman's Leadership in 17th-Century Mexico: A Model for Latina Leadership Today"

Sor María Anna Águeda de San Ignacio was named the first prioress of her convent, because she was most influential in converting her beaterio (house of lay women living together) to a convent. She wrote a tome in four books, "Marabillas del Divino Amor Selladas con el Sello de la Verdad." It is because of Sor María Anna's work and writings that one of the first, if not the first and only, Mexican ecclesial institution which did not also belong to the Spanish crown was created. It is also through her writings that she provided leadership within the Catholic Church as a foundress of a religious order, the first prioress of that order, and as a theologian. In this talk, I will present (1) selected translations of Sor María Anna's text; (2) the ways she acted as a leader within the Church at the time; and (3) what we can learn from her about Latina women's leadership as theologians in the Catholic Church today.

Wendy M. Louis (Office of Laity & Family, Federation of Asian Bishops Conference—Singapore)

Wendy Louis (Federation of Asian Bishops' Conference, Singapore)
Immediate Past Executive Secretary in the Office of Laity and Family and the Women's Desk
Federation of Asian Bishops' Conference (FABC)
Of Indian ethnic origin, Wendy Louis was born and raised in Singapore. She holds an MA in pastoral studies. After some years teaching English, she began working for the Archdiocese of Singapore, where she served from 1987 until 2014. For part of this time, she was the executive director of the archdiocese’s Catholic Schools Commission and from 2004 to 2008, she was the director of the Singapore Pastoral Institute.

For the past eight years, she worked for the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences (FABC), where, until the end of 2017, she held the position of executive secretary in the FABC Office of Laity and Family and Women’s Desk.

She continues to serve on the Asian Integral Pastoral Approach (AsIPA) Resource Team which works to promote a participatory church in Asia through Basic Ecclesial Communities (BECS). She has been an active writer and trainer for BECs since 1992.

Conference Presentation—Women's Leadership in BECs (Basic Ecclesial Communities): Complex & Countercultural

Women in the Church and in society in Asia lead by persistent persuasion, expertise, and hard work. Their leadership in the Basic Ecclesial Communities and in the Church today reflects the prevalent cultural norms. The Church is being called to be a sign of contradiction and to be countercultural in many respects. The notions of responsibility and authority are not always well integrated in women's leadership roles. The Asian, cultural notions of the woman's role—to provide care and practical needs—pervades even the highest levels of Church leadership.

Charity Musamba (University of Zambia—Lusaka, Zambia)

Charity Musamba, PhD (University of Zambia)
Lecturer, International Political Economy
Department of Development Studies' MA Program, University of Zambia
(Lusaka, Zambia)
On March 28, we learned that Dr. Musamba cannot join us because of unforeseen complications with the visa process. However, our hope is that she will send the written copy of her presentation for us to present during the "Theological Educaiton" roundtable.

Charity Musamba holds a doctorate in political science (University of Duisburg-Essen, Germany) and an MA in communication (University of Zambia); she currently lectures on international political economy in the Department of Development Studies' MA Program at the University of Zambia. Her recent publications include State of Democracy in Zambia (co-author; UNZA Press, 2011) and The Developmental State in Africa: Prospects, Possibilities, and Challenges (co-author; INEF, 2010). Previous positions include having served as project manager for the Women's Participation Programme under Zambia's National Democratic Institute (NDI) Governance Progamme; executive director of the Foundation for Democratic Process (FODEP) in Zambia; and research/communications officer as well as national coordinator for Jubilee–Zambia's Debt Cancellation and Trade Justice Project, hosted by the Jesuit Centre for Theological Reflection (JCTR).  Dr. Musamba also has extensive consulting experience for governments and NGOs; for example, she has recently worked with
  • Democracy Reporting International to conduct research in Zambia on advancing democratic accountability in eastern and southern Africa.
  • UN Development Program to facilitate and prepare the National Development Plan's 7 pillars on governance.
  • OXFAM Zambia to conduct, as part of a research team, an impact assessment of El Niño in the western and southern provinces of Zambia.
Dr. Musamba has an extensive professional background in the areas of governance, development, poverty reduction, gender, and national planning. Her work has helped her to build reliable relationships with policy, political, academic, and international community and civil society stakeholders. It has also demanded that she cultivate a working culture of reading, researching, analyzing, and listening to various perspectives advances by different actors in the development discourse. And as a Catholic exposed to the teachings of the Church, particularly as they relate to socioeconomic justice and spirituality, she endeavors to use the lens of her faith in both her academic and professional responsibilities.

Conference Presentation—"Enhancing the Role of Catholic Women Lay Groups in Rural Zambia"

Description to come 

MarySylvia Nwachukwu, DDL (Godfrey Okoye University—Enugu, Nigeria)

MarySylvia Nwachukwu, DDL
Director of Academic Planning
Godfrey Okoye University
(Enugu, Nigeria)
Sr. MarySylvia Nwachukwu is a member of the Daughters of Divine Love Congregation. She holds a BA in philosophy and theology, a Licentiate in Sacred Scripture, and a PhD in Biblical theology. She was previously a lecturer at Bigard Memorial Seminary in Enugu, Nigeria, and is now the director of academic planning at Godfrey Okoye University, also in Enugu.
Sr. MarySylvia is a member of many international and national biblical and theological associations. She has authored two books and several articles as well as edited many journals; between 2009 and 2015, she served as the editor-in-chief of the African Journal of Theology. After fifteen years as a lecturer, Sr. MarySylvia is extending her teaching ministry to the parish setting where she does Bible study for different lay groups.

Conference Presentation—"The Rebekah Figure of Genesis 27: A Mirror to Understanding Women's Leadership in the African Church"

The conceptual framework of my presentation is the image of Church as family. The Rebekah figure in Genesis 27 lends dramatic impact to my description of leadership roles of women in the African Church, which are grounded on the experiences of women within the patriarchal African families.

Jeane C. Peracullo (De La Salle University—Manila)

Jeane Peracullo (De La Salle University—Manila, Phillipines)

Chair and Associate Professor of Philosophy

De La Salle University

Dr. Jeane C. Peracullo is chair and associate professor in the Department of Philosophy at De La Salle University in Manila.  Her conference presentations and published articles delve into environmental philosophy, environmental ethics, feminist philosophy and theology, the triangulation of gender, religion and postcoloniality, international relations (with a particular focus on human identities and spaces), and the relationship between youth, religion, and culture.

She is a founding member of also the Asian Association of Women Philosophers and the international coordinator of the Ecclesia of Women in Asia, a forum of Asian Catholic women theologians and pastoral workers. In addition, she serves as a resource person on the technical panel that is working on policies, standards, and guidelines for the Master of Arts in Women and Gender Studies for the Philippines' Commission on Higher Education.

Conference Presentation—"Catholic Women's Movements in Asia: Redefining Faith for the 21st Century"

Faith-based Catholic women's movements in Asia deserve scholarly attention. By virtue of the size or magnitude of the human population in Asia, two of the world's largest Catholic populations are found in Asia—namely, India and the Philippines. Yet within Asia, Catholic Christianity is a minority religion when compared to Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism. However, scholars have noted the rapid rise of organizations of laity within the Catholic community in countries where Christianity is a minority religion. A scholarly look into these faith-based women's movements underscores many things: the participation of the laity in general and of the women, in particular, in the life of the Church; the peculiarities of the members' lived experiences that shape their participation in social movements that are faith-based; the impetus or catalyst that paved the way for the rise of these movements; and the challenge of redefining faith in post-secular times.

Ahida Pilarski (Saint Anselm College—Manchester, NH, U.S.A.)

Ahida Pilarski, PhD (Saint Anselm College—Manchester, NH, USA)
Associate Professor & Chair of Theology
Saint Anselm College
(Manchester, NH, USA)
Ahida (Calderón) Pilarski has a PhD in the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament from the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago and is an associate professor as well as chair of the Theology Department at Saint Anselm College. Dr. Pilarski is one of the editors of the Wisdom Commentary Series (58 volumes published by Liturgical Press) and a member of the Hispanic Theological Initiative's Steering Committee. Her research is focused on three main areas: (1) the prophets; (2) Latino/a biblical hermeneutics; and (3) the intersection of gender and culture in biblical interpretation. Her publications include the coedited volumes, By Bread Alone: The Bible Through the Eyes of Hungry (Fortress Press, 2014) and Pentateuco: La Biblia en Perspectiva Latinoamericana/Introducción al Antiguo Testamento (Verbo Divino, 2014). In addition, she has published numerous journal articles and book chapters such as
  • "A Latina Biblical Critic and a Latina Intellectual: A Person at the Intersection of Gender, Ethnicity, Hermeneutics, and Faith," in Latino/a Biblical Hermeneutics (SBL Press, 2014)
  • "The Past and Future of Feminist Biblical Hermeneutics," in Biblical Theology Bulletin 41:1 (2011)
  • "Una Transversal en el Pensamiento de Phyllis Bird: Pasos Hacia una Hermenéutica Bíblica Feminista," in Estudios de Autoras en América Latina, el Caribe y Estados Unidos (San Pablo, 2009)

Conference Presentation—"Challenging Hope: The Journey of Latin American Women in Theology and Biblical Studies"

In this presentation, I describe the challenging, yet hopeful, journey of Latin American women in the field of theology, particularly biblical studies, in the last fifty years. Although it has been a difficult enterprise, their increasing presence as subject(s) in theology has contributed to the changing landscape of academia. The emerging horizon, however, requires more strategic thinking to advance their integral dignity and leadership.

Barbara Reid, OP (Catholic Theological Union—Chicago)

Barbara Reid, OP
Vice President, Academic Dean, and Professor of New Testament Studies
Catholic Theological Union (CTU)

Barbara Reid is a Dominican Sister of Grand Rapids, Michigan. She holds an MA from Aquinas College in Religious Studies and a PhD in Biblical Studies from the Catholic University of America in Washington, DC. In addition to serving Catholic Theological Union (CTU) as vice president, academic dean, and a professor of New Testament studies, she is also general editor for Wisdom Commentary Series, a 58-volume feminist commentary on the Bible published by Liturgical Press.

She is past president of the Catholic Biblical Association of America (2014-15) and has led many study tours and retreats in the Holy Lands. She is also the author of many journal articles and books, some of which include

Conference Presentation—"Reading the Bible with the Mind, Eyes, and Heart of a Woman"

In this talk, I will give an overview of how feminist and mujerista methods of biblical interpretation arose, who are some of the key figures, how one engages with the methods, and the critical difference these make to the empowerment of women as leaders in the church and society.

Maria del Pilar Silveira (Andrés Bello Catholic University—Caracas)

María del Pilar Silveira (Universidad Católica Andrés Bello–Caracas, Venezuela)
Professor of Theology
Institute of Theology for Religious (ITER), Universidad Católica Andrés Bello
(Caracas, Venezuela)
Originally from Uruguay, María del Pilar (Pilar) Silveira teaches in the postgraduate and advanced studies programs in theology at the Institute of Theology for Religious (ITER) at the Universidad Católica Andrés Bello (UCAB) in Caracas, Venezuela. She also serves as part of the team that organizes the Msgr. Romero Public Lecture series at the parish, Epifanía del Señor, at the Universidad Central de Venezuela; these lectures address the political, economic, and social problems of Venezuela and Latin America, in general, in light of liberation theology.
Dr. Silveira holds a PhD in theology from the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana (Bogotá) and an MA in religious studies from the Pontifical Gregorian University (Rome). She has specialized in the study of popular religiosity in the various Marian devotions, especially in Venezuela, and in the role of women in their dissemination in both the family and society. She is the author of Mariología Popular Latinoamericana: Fisonomía de la Mariología (UCAB, 2013). In addition, she writes for the online Latin American portal, Teología Hoy, and has published articles in journals such as Revista ITER and Studium Theologicum Xaverianum.

Conference Presentation—"The Marian Devotion Led by Latin American Women"

Our Latin American Catholic Church has the face of a woman, because most of us are female communicators of the faith through various evangelizing expressions. Female leadership is often invisible, because it is based on the transmission of faith through simple, everyday events and the hermeneutics of lived events, discovering in them the presence of God. To describe this statement, I will use the research I have done in three sanctuaries in Venezuela that contain information provided by the people who were participating in the festivities of the Virgin of Coromoto, La Divina Pastora, and Nuestra Señora del Rosario de Chiquinquirá. I will take some of the 279 responses that detail the popular Marian faith lived by women, attempting to elaborate—as Pope Francis advises—a frontier theology rather than an "office theology" and describing reality as it is, without painting, perfuming, adjusting, or taming." My hope is that the audience  perceives "the smell of the city and the street" that this communication contains and encounters a reflection that increases faith and fraternal love while healing wounds.

Niceta M. Vargas, OSA (Loyola School of Theology, Ateneo de Manila University—Manila)

Sr. Niceta M. Vargas, OSA
Professor of New Testament Studies
Institute of Formation & Religious Studies
Loyola School of Theology
(Quezon City, Philippines)
A member of the Augustinian Sisters of Our Lady of Consolation for 44 years, Sr. Niceta M. Vargas, OSA, holds a PhD in religious studies, with a specialization in the New Testament, from the Catholic University of Louvain (Belgium). For the past 21 years, she has taught New Testament Studies at the Institute of Formation & Religious Studies and the Loyola School of Theology, both in Quezon City, Philippines. Other institutions in the Manila area where she has taught include Maryhill School of Theology, St. Vincent School of Theology, East Asia Pastoral Institute, San Carlos Seminary, and the graduate school at De La Salle University. Sr. Vargas has published various books and articles on New Testament themes, the most recent of which is Word and Witness: An Introduction to the Gospel of John (University of Hawaii Press, 2013).
Sr. Vargas has also served as president of La Consolacion College, Bacolod City (1982-86); La Consolacion University, Malolos City (2005-2010); and La Consolacion College, Manila (2015-16). Outside of academia, she has served her religious order as general councilor (1997-2009) and as superior general (2013-17). In addition, in 2011, she founded a center for children in need of special protection—the Tahanan Mapagkalinga ni Madre Rita (TMMR) in Guiguinto, Bulacan—and served as its director twice (2001-2010 and 2012-14). Since Typhoon Yolanda hit the Philippines in 2013, she has been involved in helping to rehabilitate the devastated Barangay Magay in Tanauan, Leyte, working on housing projects and a Christian formation program, among other projects there.

Conference Presentation—"Locating Women in Four Catholic Schools of Theology in the Philippines"

The Philipppines is becoming a hub for theological education in Asia. In many schools of theology, the student population has a mix of Filipino and other Asian nationals, together with those coming from non-Asian countries. While the majority of degree students are men, the women enrollees—especially in the certificate program—are increasing. A few women have finished their master's or doctorate degrees in theological schools in the Philippines and have been invited to teach in theology schools. A number of theology professors are women who obtained their theological training and education in the Philippines and in well-known theological schools in other countries. There appears to be a future for women theologians, especially religious, as theology teachers and professors in the Philippines and in Asia, if they would be given the opportunity to enroll in formal theological studies.