College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences > Centers & Institutes > Center for World Catholicism & Intercultural Theology > About > Research Fellows > Current Fellows

Current Fellows

​​2023-24 Research Fellows

Fall 2023

Caroline Mbonu, HHCJ
Caroline Mbonu, HHCJ

Professor of New Testament & Gender Studies
University of Port Harcourt
(Port Harcourt, Nigeria)

A member of the Congregation of the Handmaids of the Holy Child Jesus, Sr. Caroline Mbonu earned a PhD from the Graduate Theological Union (Berkeley, California), a licentiate in sacred theology from the Jesuit School of Theology at Santa Clara University, and an MA in Jewish-Christian studies from Seton Hall University. She currently teaches New Testament studies and gender studies, while also serving as the department chair, in the Department of Religious and Cultural Studies at the University of Port Harcourt (Nigeria). Her research interests center on the contextual reading of the sacred text and gender hermeneutics. 

With other degrees and professional experience in economics, accounting, and management, Sr. Mbonu is an accomplished interdisciplinary scholar who deploys her learning in business, economics, spirituality, and theology as well as her Igbo cultural background to seek insights into human flourishing and to improve women’s participation in social processes. A columnist for the Global Sisters Report (a branch of the National Catholic Reporter), she has also published several articles and books, including Under the Palaver Tree: Doing African Ecclesiology in the Spirit of Vatican II (co-edited with Stan Chu Ilo; Pickwick, 2023) and Handmaid: The Power of Names in Theology and Society (Wipf and Stock, 2010). In 2022, she received the Benemerenti Medal, an honor awarded by the pope to laity and clergy for exceptional service to the Church.

Research while at CWCIT ~ Titled “Dialoguing with the Feminine Face of Scripture: Quest for an Ecclesial Integral Development in Nigeria,” Sr. Mbonu’s research project seeks to recall history and analyze culture, so as to use them to foreground women’s experiences in Church life, for a transformative result. It also seeks to find biblical motifs in our own context as well as uncover, recover, and make contemporaneous cultural texts that tend to marginalize women and bring the findings into the conversation for a more wholesome relationship in church life. As a Nigerian-Yoruba adage puts it, “A bird cannot fly with one wing.”

Gesila Uzukwu
Gesila Uzukwu, DMMM​​

Faculty member, Department of Philosophy & Religious Studies
Nasarawa State University 
(Keffi, Nigeria)

Sr. Gesila Uzukwu is a member of the Daughters of Mary, Mother of Mercy​, a congregation founded in Nigeria. She is a scholar of New Testament Studies in the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies at Nasarawa State University in Keffi, Nigeria. She holds a bachelor’s in philosophy and theology, an MA and licentiate in theology and religious studies, and a PhD in New Testament studies (from Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium). Her research interests include New Testament studies, the Pauline letters, philosophy of religion, gender studies, and African spiritualities. She is the author of The Unity of Male and Female in Jesus Christ: An Exegetical Study of Galatians 3:28c in Light of Paul’s Theology of Promise (Bloomsbury T & T Clark, 2015).

Research while at CWCIT ~ Titled “African Catholic Spirituality, Mami-Wata, and Theodicy: Interrogating the Faith Crises of African Catholics on the Problem of Evil,” Sr. Uzukwu’s research project considers the impact of traditional African spirituality—especially West Africa’s Mami-Wata tradition—on the Catholic faith in Africa. It investigates the different way(s) that African Catholics have responded to the problems of theodicy via their constructs and appropriations of grassroot spiritualties, especially the traditional Mami-Wata spirituality, which worships a pantheon of water spirits. While previous scholarship has investigated the crises of African Christian faith either from the dominant point of view of African culture and context, Christian/Muslim interaction, or from the influence of Western elements, there are no works that show the multidimensional impacts of Mami-Wata spirituality on Catholic faith, identity, and the perspectives on the problem of evil.