RALEIGH, N.C. – The Catholic Community of St. Francis of Assisi recently launched Sojourns for Justice, an educational series focusing on issues related to the ministries of justice, peace and integrity of creation.
The first event, on Feb. 28, featured Fr. Emmanuel Katongole, professor of theology and world Christianity and co-director of the Center for Reconciliation at nearby Duke University. He shared his stories and insight from years of work in reconciliation and social transformation around the world, including Catholic parishes from his native Uganda to the United States.
Insight on Pastoral Ministry
Speaking to a packed church, he said, “I don’t understand what all these people are doing here on such a cold, humdrum Thursday evening. Perhaps I don’t understand why you are here because I sometimes wonder why I am here. I wonder, what is an African priest, trained in philosophy, from rural Uganda, doing here in the United States of America, teaching theology at a Protestant seminary?”
His talk on reconciliation and social transformation combined insights from years of pastoral ministry – serving parishes in Uganda, Belgium and the United States – with his current work in academic theology. Fr. Katongole offered moving insights aimed at sustaining the difficult work of social transformation in a world seemingly dominated by violence and injustice, according to Joseph Wolyniak, Advocacy Ministries Coordinator in the Franciscan Coalition for Justice and Peace at the Raleigh parish.
Reconciliation and Social Transformation for Peace and Justice
To sustain the slow, sometimes cumbersome, efforts towards peace and justice, Fr. Katongole, shown in photo, urged the audience to look for small signs of God’s work amidst the rubble of this world. Citing poignant examples of hope in the ongoing work toward reconciliation in Rwanda and elsewhere, Fr. Katongole reminded the parish that the ministry of reconciliation flows from and returns to God. Because of this, he said, signs of hope crop up in mysterious, unexpected ways. “We must be open and ever-vigilant to recognize these signs, understanding ourselves to be agents of a grace much bigger than the problems that plague our world.”
The next installment of the Sojourns for Justice series is scheduled for June 17, featuring Mathias Doyle, OFM, addressing the parish on socially responsible investing. The series is being organized by the parish’s Franciscan Coalition.