Course: MARY AFST 544: Towards the Inculturation of Religious Community Life in Africa

Course Overview:
Course explores topics relevant to the inculturation of religious life in Africa. It examines the dynamics of inculturation from the ‘bottom up’… i.e., the experience of women and men religious themselves in defining the evolving expression of their lives as Africans.

Basic elements of course

1) Importance of bringing to consciousness areas of lived conflict of values to free persons so that they themselves might choose to define evolving expression of faith.

2) Consider what may be inhibiting factors in the lives of women and men religious in the inculturation of religious life.

3) Implications of cultural context for the expression of religious life, including:

– socialization of members (religious formation/initiation)
– perception of the role of women and men
– models of social relationships in community
– role / place of the chief (superior) in group decision-making
– causes and expression of social conflict
– resolution of conflict within social group
– relationship with families
– among women, the relationship between their sense of close mutual solidarity and the attractiveness of religious community impact on the expression of ‘common life’
– creative ritualizing… powerful language to be developed
– significance of details, such as dress, titles and markings of status

4) Identify where there are gaps between rhetoric and observed practice which point to areas of possible growth.

5) Different problems and challenges of inculturation of religious life as experienced in international congregations, in diocesan congregations…

Zaire, the place of the lecturer’s research, will be a major reference point, with some consideration of the historical factors that have fostered the ‘Africanisation’ of religious life there. Also some reference will be made to Nigeria for a comparative frame of reference. However, the field research will focus on the religious communities in the Nairobi area. The participants will be encouraged to draw on their own experience and stimulated to reflect on their own specific, cultural context.