Religious Life for Women in East and Central Africa: A sustainable Future

The Religious Life Africa Project: Research Project into the future sustainability of Religious Life for women in Africa

This is a collaborative project between three British institutions: the Margaret Beaufort Institute of Theology, Cambridge (MBIT), Durham University’s Centre for Catholic Studies (CCS) and the Religious Life Institute (RLI) at Heythrop College, University of London, generously funded by the Conrad N.Hilton Foundation. The approach taken by the project seeks to build on the results and success of an earlier project: the Religious Life Vitality Project, which ran from 2013 – 2015 and was also funded by the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation.

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The Project combines the shared expertise of the researchers from the region and the experience and global perspective of the UK Vitality team to enrich local reflection on Religious Life for women in Africa and contribute to the growing global discourse on religious life. We are working with the leaders of the Conferences of Religious in: Kenya, Malawi, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, looking at questions relating the sustainability of apostolic religious life for women by exploring the essence of religious life, formation and other related questions.
Other collaborative partners include the UISG and the Association of Consecrated Women of East and Central Africa (ACWECA). For more information see:

We will be addressing the following specific questions, formed in consultation with sisters at a meeting in Kasisi, Zambia in September 2016:

What are sisters saying is the essence of women’s Religious Life in Africa today and into the future? What are the key challenges that hinder this essence? What are the best practices for ensuring the understanding & living of it, and the communication of this to sisters in formation?

The Project is not a purely academic research project about Catholic sisters, but is a tool for you and your sisters to reflect on what religious life means for you in your own context – putting your voices, your lived theology and your experience at the heart of the Project, and reporting back to you – with findings that we hope will enrich the development of religious life for women in Africa.
We are now in the process of inviting congregations – local, Diocesan and international/pontifical – in these 7 countries to take part in the Project.

Participation means:
 In Stage 1 we will ask individual sisters from participating congregations one simple question about their understanding and experience of the essence of religious life as lived in their own context
 A smaller number of congregations will be invited to take part in Stage 2, which will involve participating in in-depth discussions on the findings from Stage 1
 In Stage 3, we hope to bring together a group of theologians, drawn from Catholic sisters from/based in Africa, to reflect on all that we have heard

Findings will be presented back to congregations who take part, and more widely, through the leadership conferences in each country, ACWECA, UISG and the Conrad N.Hilton Foundation.
All are welcome to participate – local, diocesan and pontifical/international congregations
Participation is voluntary and we will ensure anonymity and confidentiality at all stages
This is your opportunity to have your say about what religious life means for you, in your own context and how you see/wish to see religious life for women in Africa developing into the future.

Come join us

If you would like your congregation to take part in the Project and would like more information please contact:
Catherine Sexton, Project Director –
Maria Calderon Munoz, Research Assistant –

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