Although research work has been in existence for a long time, empirical and analytical-based knowledge of Catholic communities and ministries in Africa is extremely limited. This is why ASEC, in partnership with Georgetown University’s Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA), initiated a visiting scholar program for African Sisters. I, Sister Florence Emurayeveya, EHJ from Nigeria, am the second sister to receive the research fellowship.
CARA is well known in the United States for conducting research in Catholicism and the Catholic Church. My time at CARA has enhanced my knowledge in applied research by introducing me to the use of statistical (SPSS) software and how to apply it to different areas of research in the Catholic faith and ministries. Some of the projects I have worked on include:
- Research work on the Entrance Class of Religious Congregations
- Parish survey for a parish in Nigeria
- Survey of Women Religious who are alumnae of SLDI/HESA
- Literature review of the permanent diaconate in the United States
- Data collection and database creation, data cleaning, and data manipulation
- Writing reports, blog posts and special reports.
The visiting scholar program focuses primarily on acquiring applied research skills in the apostolate through current projects so that the visiting scholar can easily and efficiently gain the knowledge during the six-month fellowship. It also involves developing and implementing at least one project from the home base of the sister scholar.
My stay at CARA has launched me into learning applied research in the apostolate. I have been able to analyze and write a report as well as develop and implement a parish survey back home in Nigeria. I also developed a survey and distributed it to ASEC’s SLDI and HESA alumnae from 10 countries in Africa. I am now writing the results of the parish survey and analyzing the SLDI/HESA survey. Both projects will used for planning more research. I hope to share the projects with others in Nigeria and Africa in order to increase empirical and analytical-based knowledge about the Church in Africa.
It is my hope that this program will eventually lead to developing an African research center in the apostolate. Such a center would broaden the impact of this program to more African sisters, and expand the promotion of research in Catholicism and religious life in Africa.
Thanks to the Hilton Foundation for funding this great program. Thanks to ASEC for initiating this program. Thanks to CARA for sharing its knowledge. And above all, thanks to God who owns all knowledge.