By Mary Lilly Driciru, MSMMC

The association of Religious in Uganda (ARU), in partnership with the university of Kisubi (UniK) has officially signed a joint venture to establish and operate a research Center referred to as; Centre of Excellence in Research, Information Management and Programming (CERIMP). The binding documents were signed on Monday, September 27, 2021 at ARU Secretariat. The Center will mainly conduct research, generate and manage knowledge, innovations and disseminate the outcome.

Stakeholders and guests of ARU and UniK colored the day and witnessed as the two parties signed the document.  The President / Chairperson of ARU, Sr. Annamaria Nankusu, and the Secretary General, ARU, Sr. Mary Lydia Apili Bwor, signed on behalf of ARU, while Bro Dr Celestine Kakooza and Prof. John Ssebuufu signed on behalf of UniK.

The partners agreed to mutually collaborate while implementing the joint venture. They also upheld the capacity of each partner. “We cannot underestimate the academic strength of UniK with a pool of experience in networking. The research is planned to be interdisciplinary in nature. Currently ARU is in the process of strengthening and scaling up its capacity and relevance through such comprehensive research, the research findings will be translated into interventions in key areas of concern,” ARU President Said.

In his homily, Fr. John Mary Mooka Kamweri, AJ, noted that, the greatness of this day is seen in the fact that we are in a digital age, where information technology has taken us distance away, with experience of biological threats, one gets more confused. The inset of pandemics totally offsets us from our normal ways, of thinking and planning. The liturgy and pastoral activities take unusual trend due COVID-19 distortion. It is not clear who is leading because the consecrated persons, called to be the salt and the light of the world, seem to follow the episodes from behind!

Yet Pope Francis has challenged us to be the New Wine in the new wineskins, to be dynamic and innovative.  Surprisingly, the younger generation has overridden by taking and dictating on us through the social media, which is good, but often times bearing distortion and misinformation. The consecrated persons have become victims of circumstances, carried by such negative waves.

He further narrated that, a member in a certain community got medical treatment worth UGX 30,000,000 after testing positive with COVID-19 virus. A video clip, claiming COVID-19 vaccine “AstraZeneca kills” caused this scenario.   After rejecting the vaccine uptake, he tested positive and was hospitalized for being a victim of misinformation.

Hence, the idea of a research Centre will help us to make research and publish its outcome to guard the poor against misinformation and social injustice. This reminds us about the two- fold role of Catholic University; to teach freedom and truth about God, humanity, and nature. Besides, a catholic university is concerned about integral development using the Gospel principles.

An ARU document adds that, in Uganda, the Consecrated persons – Religious and the Church in general, are involved in a range of ministries such as education, health care and social services. Their contribution to national and global challenges through their ministry can’t be quantified. Their input in addressing national and global challenges is immense.  The research Centre will help ARU enhance data collection and consolidate the interventions for member Institutes into one output of all the Religious in Uganda.

The Center will also align the Church input into the realization of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs); localization efforts will be properly documented, and replicated to create further impact. Other elements of the strategy consist of; knowledge capture and development, as a means of collecting lessons learned to serve as a basis for further investigation, analysis and documentation for knowledge sharing of best practices with stakeholders and wider audiences.