Africa Matters Update

March 12, 2016.

It has been a while since we posted anything here. Not because there has been nothing to share. On the contrary, we have been experiencing an overabundance of gifts, happenings and events such that there has been little time to process the “too much”. Now, thanks to a dedicated and persistent research assistant, Fr Emmanuel is able to share some developments on the Bethany Land Institute . Three highlights over the last six months have brought much needed momentum to The Bethany Land Institute initiative as we prepare for take off:

Highlight One:

The gift of Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si

Laudato Si

Laudato Si

which provides the much needed and fresh pastoral/theological vision on care for our human home. See Fr Emmanuel’s reflection on the urgency of the ecological challenge in Africa, which reflects on Laudato Si and also casts a vision for the BLI, see ROOTING GOD’S MISSION IN THE AFRICAN SOIL .

Highlight Two:

Seed funding from two organizations allowed us to clear any remaining huddles on the land and to have the 78 acres of the future campus of the BLI surveyed and fenced off.

Fr Katongole planting a tree

Fr Katongole planting a tree at BLI


Cornelius planting a tree at BLI

Cornelius planting a tree at BLI


Highlight Three:

BLI successfully incorporated in Uganda (August); held first board meeting (Jan)

First BLI Board Meeting

First BLI Board Meeting


and board site visit….

Board site visit

Board site visit

Some pictures of board meeting and of site visit.

I can honestly say, “I do not know what God is doing, but am glad to be part of it.”

Watch this space for more updates.

Springfull of Gifts-2

Five days in Rome (June 3-8) for a Contending Modernities meeting. As always Rome is full of delightful surprises. The highlight: Corpus Christi mass, presided over by Pope Francis at the Basilica of John Lateran, followed by a mile long procession with the blessed Sacrament to Maria Marjore. At the mass, Francis prayed for persecuted Christians around the world while reminding (during the homily) the congregation the unique gift of that the Eucharist is to the church: “not a reward for the holy, but food for the hungry, pardon for sinners and strength for the weary.

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Another highlight: time with my friend Fr. Simon Peter, who is in formation at the Pontifical Ecclesiatical Academy, preparing for ministry in ecclesiastical diplomacy:

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A Springfull of Gifts-1

A bitter and cold winter in Chicago – but in its midst, a spring-full of gift, chief among them, 4 month residence and company of priest friends (Stan & Ken especially) at St. Clement Church Lincoln Park, while serving as a senior fellow at the De Paul Center for World Christianity and Intercultural Theology (thanks especially to Bill and Mike), working on a manuscript: Born of Lament: The Theology and Politics of Hope in Africa I am happy with the first draft, and will hopefully be ready to submit to publishers a revised manuscript in the Fall. For a preview of the Why, How and What of Born of Lament, watch here at vimeo   


Regrounding the Church in Africa: A Theological Experiment

Complex economic, political, cultural and policy factors have contributed to the current ecological crisis. However, at the basis of these complex factors lies a fundamental theological problem which has to do with our failure to live as creatures who are fashioned out of the earth  and have been given the vocation to till the land and take care of it.” (Gen 2:15).  It is this vocation we have been running away from and the effects are disastrous especially in Africa……..

But since as the Congolese theologian Ka Mana has reminded us, “The goal of African theology must be to transform Africa rather than just explain it; to change it positively rather than just study it; to create history rather than just to interpret it,” what I wish to do is to present The Bethany Land Institute is one concrete experiment that reflects the invitation to  “till the land and take care of it.” Keynote address at the 2015 HNGR symposiumThe Hungry Shall be Filled“. Wheaton University. Feb 2–28, 2015.  Listen to the lecture and other sessions at the symposium.