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Building Bridges Across Africa

“You truly moved me, referring to God’s compassion. Compassion means sharing your pain and we all must work to share God’s compassion. All of us must express God’s compassion through the things we do. I will play my part and hopefully, you will play yours so that we can move together toward the future.” (Pope Francis, responding to students in Building Bridges Across Africa, November 1, 2022)

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Building Bridges Across Africa

The Second Pan-African Catholic Congress on Theology, Society, and Pastoral Life took place at the Catholic University of Eastern Africa in Nairobi, Kenya in July 2022. Invited by the organizers of the Congress, Drs. Emilce Cuda and Peter Jones, two of the five organizers of the first Building Bridges Initiative event, attended the Congress. They made presentations and met with leaders from across the continent to encourage and inspire them to help organize a similar event centering the experiences and voices of African students. By the end of the week, a strong group that included theologians, teachers, pastors, media executives, and social media influencers began to advance this work. 


Led by Dr. Stan Chu Ilo, a priest from Nigeria, head of the Pan-African Catholic Theology and Pastoral Network, and professor at DePaul University’s Center for World Catholicism and Intercultural Theology, the leadership team in Africa convened hundreds of students across several countries of Sub-Saharan Africa. They met in regional groups and discussed a range of challenges. Acknowledging the moment and the opportunity, the students and their communities celebrated with song, including original compositions such as the one played during the live-stream encounter with Pope Francis. The event was carried live on several African Catholic TV stations. 


Pope Francis listened to the students, took notes, dialogued with them and encouraged them. He mentioned that his trip to Africa was recently cancelled for health reasons and that he soon would travel, hoping to meet some of them in person. He did meet some of them, in fact. Because of their participation in Building Bridges Across Africa, some students gained invitations to meet with their bishops for group listening sessions that would contribute to the synodal process. The impact of this unique encounter was felt across the continent and continues. 



Learn more about the Pan-African Catholic Theology and Pastoral Network

Cardinal Tagle’s Message

Cardinal Tagle, Pro-Prefect of the Dicastery for Evangelization at the Holy See, sent a message to the students participating in the working groups across Africa and you can read it here.

Building Bridges of Faith

A musician in Brazzaville, Congo composed and performed this song for the Building Bridges Across Africa Encounter.


The Building Bridges Initiative provides unique opportunities to students and they are active, continuing to pursue the common good in light of their experience with Pope Francis. Here you wlll find a growing list of activities in development and underway, from students and faculty, inspired by experience with the Building Bridges Initiative.

The Building Bridges Initiative needs your support!