ASEC staff members at Marywood University were honored to host Sr. Lucy Dora Akello, LSMIG, during a recent visit. Sr. Lucy, ASEC and CARA’s 7th Visiting Scholar, is carrying out research at Georgetown University as a part of CARA, a non-profit Georgetown University affiliated research center that focuses on social scientific studies about the Catholic Church. While visiting Marywood she shared her research progress with staff, shared ideas about the organization and her experience and toured Scranton, Pa. (It should be noted that she did also visit the "Pizza Capital of the World" in Old Forge, Pa., and said she did enjoy the pizza!)
Sr. Lucy presented the progress of her current research which takes a look into how adequately prepared sisters feel to carry out the work they are assigned to in their congregations. She did this by creating a survey to send to parishes asking about the services they provide, their strengths and weaknesses, and the areas they feel they can make improvement.
Having heard from sisters in the past that they felt unprepared for the work carried out in their ministries, she wants to ask, “How well do congregations prepare women religious for their ministries?” The in-depth survey is designed to touch upon stress factors, support systems and accommodating resources available within congregations. With this information she hopes to help make suggestions to congregations in Uganda on how they can better prepare women religious for what they can expect in their ministries.
While Sr. Lucy has obtained some of the surveys back, she is still waiting for more to return. She mentioned that she did have some difficulty finding women religious who were willing to return the surveys and would like to also look into why that might be. It was also noted that when her research was set to start in 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic led to school closures and quarantine restrictions that made obtaining information that much harder. Still, she never gave up and is continuing her research visit which will end in mid-December.
“I am learning a lot,” said Sr. Lucy. “It is different than my other educational experiences. It is more about focusing on the data.”
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After giving her presentation she asked for feedback on her study. US Staff applauded her work and gave suggestions as to how she might improve the return of surveys. Sr. Lucy thanked the staff, answered questions, and took notes on feedback. She ended the presentation by thanking staff.
“Thank you so much for all that you have shared to help me improve the survey, and to encourage me to keep on with this study without giving up. Thank you.”
While visiting, Sr. Lucy also took the time to provide feedback on the Visiting Scholar program and suggestions she may have for the future. When asked how the training has helped her, she replied:
"The training has opened new horizons for me to engage in new fields of research. I have been working on language-related research, but now I am changing focus to religious life and institutions run or managed by religious."
She explained that she has been excited to learn the skills needed to collect and analyze data which she knows will help her in her future endeavors for the church. Having had this opportunity, she is excited to help ministries in Uganda learn how to collect and analyze data that can help the growth of the organization.
Lastly, Sr. Lucy was very grateful to network with previous Visiting Scholars and mentioned the hopes of having more opportunities to do so in the future. She said she would love to keep the program continuing to encourage research even after she returns to Uganda.
In 2015-2016, ASEC entered into an agreement with Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) at Georgetown University to bring African sisters to the U.S. for a Visiting Scholar Fellowship. CARA is a national, nonprofit research center that conducts social scientific studies about the Catholic Church. The chosen sister will work and study with CARA to advance their research skills. ASEC is partnered with CARA to recruitment the sister scholars and engage them in research opportunities, including over one week at its Scranton, PA, office.