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New Major Grant Helps Loyola Institute for Ministry Further Sustainable Development Efforts in Africa

Loyola press release - March 13, 2018

Catholic Sisters Initiative of the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, together with the Loyola Institute for Ministry, a Hilton grantee, helps to advance U.N. Sustainable Development Goals

A $600,000 grant from the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation will allow the Loyola Institute for Ministry to continue partnering with Catholic sisters in Africa to advance an ambitious sustainable development agenda established by the United Nations.

U.N. member countries adopted 17 goals in an agenda “to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity for all” by 2030. “The U.N. Sustainable Development Goals promote a just and sustainable future for all, including for the world’s poor and vulnerable,” said Dr. Tom Ryan, director of the Loyola Institute for Ministry. It’s clear the goals can only be achieved by committed groups and organizations working together in partnership, Ryan said.

Motivated by their congregational charisms and faith commitments, including the long tradition of Catholic social teaching and African concepts, such as “abundant life,” Catholic sisters in Africa already work in ministries that promote the outcomes the United Nations envisions. “This project allows Catholic sisters to connect the secular language of sustainable development to their own culturally specific identities and charisms, and it equips them with practical skills in partnership, resource development, and communication,” Ryan said.

“The project empowers sisters to be intentional about pursuing partnerships for sustainable development and so to live out their charisms more effectively.”

Specifically, the grant will help to develop leaders and potential leaders of East African religious congregations in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, and South Sudan through graduate-level education provided by the Loyola Institute for Ministry (LIM). With the Hilton Foundation’s support, 36 religious sisters will complete online coursework to earn Loyola’s Certificate in Catholic Social Teaching. As a leader in theological distance education, LIM develops collaborative and culturally competent leaders. LIM students master a process of critical theological reflection with attention to socio-economic, cultural, and organizational contexts. Coursework for the Certificate in Catholic Social Teaching will equip East African sisters with practical skills to pursue just and sustainable transformation in their communities.

LIM and the religious congregations will collaborate to develop workshops that leverage and build partnerships within the sisters’ communities. Students will develop culturally-relevant communication tools and provide workshops to share the Sustainable Development Goals in terms of Catholic social teaching and community charisms. Through these workshops with community members, parents, students, teachers, parishioners, and other partners, the congregations will enhance awareness of the goals within their ministries. In this way, the sisters will spark the imagination and energy of a broad range of stakeholders, empowering change agents for sustainable development.

The Hilton Foundation grant will also help to educate the wider public about the sisters’ important work. In a partnership with Salt+Light Catholic TV Network of Canada, a video series illustrating religious sisters’ contributions to sustainable development will be developed and broadcast live-streaming worldwide. The video series will also be distributed on DVD and online by participating congregations. This international media will create greater awareness of the Sustainable Development Goals and highlight the work of religious sisters, thus enhancing their ability to partner with benefactors and others to further their ministries.

“Sisters in Partnership for Sustainability” is the second grant the Loyola Institute for Ministry has received from the Hilton Foundation. The new project builds on the success of “Communicating Charism,” a Hilton Foundation-funded project that built communications and leadership capacity among members of seven communities of women religious in the Africa, Asia, and the United States.