Meet the AFJN Staff

dsc_0185Fr. Aniedi Okure is a member of the Order of Preachers; Dominican Province of St. Joseph the Worker (Nigeria-Ghana). He has served in various pastoral capacities in Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of Congo and the United States, including associate director of campus ministry at the University of Ife, associate at St. Ambrose Parish Boston, St. James Church Davis and chaplain at Geisinger Hospital Danville, Pennsylvania. From 1995 to 2001, he was the Coordinator of Ethnic Ministries at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and served as co-chair for the breakout sessions of Encuentro 2000, the millennium celebration of diversity in the church. While at USCCB, he brought together African priests and religious to form the coalition of African Conference of Catholic Clergy and Religious in the United States (http://acccrus.org).

Since 2003, he has contributed to research projects at Catholic University’s Institute for Policy Research (http://ipr.cua.edu) including the study of the movements of international priests and religious and their impact on local church communities, African and Caribbean-born in the United States, and cultural diversity in the Church. With Dean Hoge, he co-authored International Priests in America: Challenges and Opportunities (2006), and African and Caribbean Catholics in the United States(2008). He is a frequently invited speaker on international priests and cultural diversity. He studied at the Dominican Institute Ibadan, Les Facultés Catholique Kinshasa; University of Ife; Boston University and The Catholic University of America. He has taught at The Catholic University of America, The George Washington University, the University of California Davis and the University of Ife, Nigeria. He holds a doctorate degree in sociology from the Catholic University of America.  Email:director@afjn.org

afjn-logoBahati Jacques joined Africa Faith and Justice Network in 2007. Originally from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, he witnessed the invasion of the DRC by Rwanda, Burundi and Uganda from 1996-2000 and worked in the field of post-war relief. He co-founded the Association des vieullards abondonnes in french Association for Abandoned Elderly (AVA) which addresses the increased number of elderly people begging on the streets of Bukavu during the conflict in DRC. He holds an undergraduate degree in Philosophy (2000) from La Ruzizi in Bukavu/DRC, a Masters of Divinity (2006) and Masters of Arts in Ethics (2007) from Catholic Theological Union in Chicago.

Since joining AFJN, he has written and spoken in different circles across the US on the socio-political issues of the DRC, Rwanda, Uganda, Burundi.  He is the author of Tribe not an Idea, but a True Identity, a piece published in Recherches Africaines. L’Afrique et son vecu vol. 21-22, and co-author of the paper Promoting International Support for Community-Based Justice Mechanisms in Post-Conflict Burundi and Uganda (2009).  Policy papers of his include Two Rebel groups, One solution (2008) and Evaluating peace and stability in DRC (2009). He has been a guest of Africa Now, a radio program of WPFW in Washington DC and Voice of America TV.  His work at AFJN is informed by his passion for social justice as well his personal commitment to making this world a better place for all people.  Email: afjnpolicyanalyst@gmail.com

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Fr. Barthelemy Bazemo is a member of the Society of the Missionaries of Africa. Born in Ivory Coast and raised in Burkina Faso, West Africa, he has training in peace support operations,
conflict studies, international politics, human rights and diplomacy. Fr. Bazemo will serve as policy analyst and assist the Executive Director in AFJN-SECAM (Symposium of the Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar) relations. He spent many years in Eastern Africa, mostly in Kenya and Tanzania studying and engaging in active urban apostolate, centered on nurturing Christian values, youth animation, developmental activities, and dialogue with other faiths. He was an active member of Christian Professionals of Tanzania (CPT), a forum for advocacy, human rights and social ethics in the public square; and Wabunge Think-Tank for specific issues related to constitutional debate, the rule of law, good governance, and peacebuilding. Fr. Bazemo studied at the Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA), Tangaza College, Hekima College Nairobi Kenya, and Centre Supérieur de Philosophie, Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. In 2010 he studied at the National Peace Academy (NPA) at Wilmington College. He holds a Masters degree in Peace Studies and International Relations, a STB in Sacred Theology, a graduate diploma in Communications and Certificate in PPI (Peacebuilding Peacelearning Intensive); He speaks and writes French, English and Swahili.  Email: bazemo@afjn.org

Lauren Rogers comes to AFJN shortly after graduating with her Masters degree in Conflict Resolution from Georgetown University. She first became interested in Africa and issues of just governance in Africa following a 2009 mission trip to Malawi. Originally from Louisiana, Lauren attended Centenary College of Louisiana for her undergraduate studies where she graduated Summa cum Laude with Departmental Honors in Religious Studies. In addition, Lauren is an ordained Deacon in the Presbyterian Church U.S.A. and worked at First Presbyterian Church of Shreveport, Louisiana, for two years in the capacity of Youth Director and Outreach Coordinator before moving to Washington, D.C. Lauren served as a Research Assistant for Georgetown University while attending her Masters program and more recently worked for PeacePlayers International. Lauren’s areas of interest include religious violence, interfaith relations, Islamophobia, and human rights.  Email: rogers@afjn.org

EuchairaSr. Eucharia Madueke is a Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur (SNDdeN), Nigerian Province. She has expertise in social analysis, grassroots mobilization and organization. Prior to AFJN, Eucharia was with NETWORK, A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby as an organization associate. She also served as a high school teacher, formator, and provincial of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, Nigerian Province. Eucharia holds a Masters Degree in Social Work from The Catholic University of America and a PhD in development and public policy from the department of African Studies, Howard University, Washington DC.  Email: eucharia@afjn.org

dsc_0961Lucy Huffman is a member of the Ignatian Volunteer Corps which provides the opportunity to serve the needs of the poor, to work for a more just society, and to grow deeper in Christian faith by reflecting and praying in the Ignatian tradition. She also volunteers at S.O.M.E. (So Others Might Eat) in Washington, DC, and at Catholic Charities in Wilmington, DE. Prior to her volunteer experiences she worked for the US Treasury Department and a federal banking regulator as an economist and analyst and taught finance at City University of New York. She holds a Ph.D. in Business and Finance from City University of New York and a M.Accy in accounting from the George Washington University.

dsc_0957Mike grew up in Brooklyn New York. His parents were Irish immigrants. He went to Marquette University for graduate studies, and there he met Rita. They married and went to Brazil to work with Catholic Relief Services (CRS). Their two daughters were born in Brazil (two sons came later). Mike was later director of CRS programs in Central America.
Mike organized a “Model Cities” anti-poverty program in Binghamton, New York. He later worked with the International City Management Association, where he was director of ICMA’s programs of technical assistance to local governments around the world. He has an MA in sociology from NYU, and did doctoral studies at Louvain University in Belgium.

dsc_0959Rita grew up in a small town near Wilkes-Barre Pennsylvania. Her mother and grandparents were immigrants from Slovakia. She graduated from Misericordia College in Pennsylvania and then spent a year as a schoolteacher in Alabama. She did graduate studies at Marquette University where she met Mike. They married and moved to Brazil for three years of work with Catholic Relief Services.

 

Board of Directors

 

Therese Wetta is a member of the Adorers of the Blood of Christ, an international congregation with members in Tanzania, Mozambique and Guinea Bissau. After serving on the ASC General Council and taking several trips to Tanzania, S. Therese spent her first year after that service working with the Tanzanian ASCs. Currently, she is Director of Development for Sciences and Health Sciences for Newman University in Wichita KS. She joined the AFJN Board in 2013 and is currently serving as its chair.

Fr. John Converset, MCCJ is provincial superior the North American Province of the Comboni Missionaries. Before his current role, he served as the director of the Office for Justice Peace and Integrity of Creation of his religious community. Fr. Converset was born in 1944 at Fort Wayne, Indiana, USA to Julian William Converset and Georgianna Cecilia Engle. In September 1958, he entered the minor seminary of the Comboni Missionaries in Cincinnati, OH. In 1967, he obtained a BA in philosophy, languages and history from the University of San Diego, CA and a Licentiate in Sacred Theology [STL] from the Gregorian University in Rome 1971. After being ordained a priest in Rome on 31 July 1971 he was assigned to South Africa where he served until 1977 in a Parish Ministry that served a mixed population at Bushbuckridge, Eastern Transvaal in South Africa. During this time, from 1975-77 he also served as Chair of Diocesan Priests’ Council in Witbank Diocese.

From 1978-1982 he took on the role of Director of Ongoing Formation and retreat director at the Pastoral Centre of Witbank Diocese in Lydenburg. From 1982-1992 he served as Novice Director, North American Province (NAP) of the Comboni Missionaries. From 1993-1998 he served as the Provincial Superior, North American Province. From January 2000 to March 2010, he worked as the Provincial Secretary and Director of Ongoing Formation of the Comboni Missionaries in South Africa. Since March 2010, he is the Director of Justice, Peace and the Integrity of Creation (JPIC) of North American Province, residing in New Jersey, USA and representing the Comboni Missionaries with VIVAT International at the United Nations and with the African Faith and Justice Network in Washington, DC. Since January 2011 his is also the vice provincial of the Comboni Missionaries in the North American Province; provincial elect from July 2016.

Stephen G. Price has worked for 30 years for the Society of African Missions (S.M.A. Fathers), helping facilitate the training and sending of S.M.A. Lay Missionaries for Africa. He also liaises for the Society with Africa advocacy groups in Washington. Based in Maryland but a native of Michigan, he was educated in Theology and Scripture at Notre Dame and Marquette Universities. He was a Jesuit Volunteer in Zambia and has traveled in Africa several times in the course of his work.

Charles T. Brown, S.C.J. is a member of the Congregation of the Priests of the Sacred Heart. Brown holds a Ph.D. in New Testament and Early Christianity and is presently on the faculty of Sacred Scripture at Sacred Heart Seminary and School of Theology, Hales Corners, Wisconsin. Brown began his priestly ministry in the Ituri Forest of eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, and he taught for ten years at St. Joseph’s Theological Institute, KwaZulu-Natal in the Republic of South Africa. He is currently the Secretary of Missions for the U.S.A. province of his congregation.

Julien Cormier is a Catholic priest and member of the Society of Missionaries of Africa (MAfr) since 1961. He is originally from Canada. He studied Theology in France and was ordained priest in 1966. From 1966-1985 he served in Burundi where he learned Kirundi. Then from 1985-2003 he worked in Niger where he also learned basic “Hausa” language. From 2003-2008 he was appointed to Rome where he was the Editor of the MAfr “in house” monthly news magazine. From 2009-2015 he was sent to Montréal, Canada to serve as the Provincial Superior of Missionaries of Africa in the Americas (Canada, USA, Mexico, Brazil). In this role, he learned basic Portuguese and Spanish. Since 2015, he has been based in his community in Washington DC. We congratulate him on his Golden Jubilee of priestly Ordination celebrated during this year of the Lord 2016.

Executive is currently the director of the United States Catholic Mission Association.
Don is a pastoral theologian who taught for the Catholic Leadership Institute, the Pontifical Faculty of the Immaculate Conception (Dominican House of Studies), and the Catholic University of America. He served in senior leadership positions for the Catholic Youth Foundation USA, the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities, and the Catholic Campus Ministry Association. Don has extensive experience with Catholic organizations having provided consultation services to the Catholic Apostolate Center, the University of Dayton Campus Ministry, the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate, Saint Bonaventure University, and Sienna Heights University. He is a published author with articles in the NCEA Seminary Journal, Bible Today, and the Journal of the Catholic Campus Ministry Association. He and his wife Barbara co-authored Rise, Take the Child – Reflections on the Vocation of Adoption (Visual Dynamics Publishing, 2015). They have three sons, three grandchildren, and are active parishioners of the Shrine of the Sacred Heart in Washington, D.C.

Sr. Roberta Miller is a Dominican Sister of Peace. She has a PhD in Cultural Anthropology from The Ohio State University and MA in Social Studies from Hunter College of the City of New York. In addition, she has many credits in cultural studies from other US universities such as the University of Hawaii in Honolulu and from summer Fulbright Grants for teachers in Mexico and Argentina. She was a professor at Ohio Dominican University from 1983 to 2009 where she taught in the areas of Social Anthropology, Humanities and Aging. She presently serves as Grant Administrator for a grant intended to strengthen an indigenous Nigerian Dominican Sister congregation through education and entrepreneurship. She is also a current Grant Administrator for a grant with a local Mexican population, largely undocumented.

Sister Michele Puma, SHCJ, entered the Society of the Holy Child Jesus which was founded by Cornelia Connelly for the education of girls and young women and extended its mission to West Africa in 1935. She joined the Society after receiving her BA from Hunter College in New York in English Literature and Elementary Education.
After receiving her MA in English Literature from Loyola University, Chicago, Michele was missioned to West Africa in 1969 where she served both in Ghana and Nigeria as lecturer, Principal, Headmistress and member of the Provincial Leadership Team. During her years in West Africa, the Society was expanding its membership to include young women from both Ghana and Nigeria. Many of the young women with whom Michele came in contact with as students and friends entered the Society and are now in leadership positions in the Society.

Upon her return to the USA, Michele received her Ed.D. in Curriculum and Teaching from Columbia University while serving as Area Superior to the SHCJ in the New York and New Jersey area. In 1994, Michele began her ministry at Rosemont College, Rosemont, PA and served as Assistant Academic Dean for 12 years. During this time she was a member of the newly established ASEC Board and conducted ASEC research in Ghana and Nigeria. In 2007, Michele returned to Oghara, Nigeria, as President of a newly-established mission: Lower School, Secondary School, and Hospital.
In April 2013, Michele led a team from Villanova School of Nursing to Ghana in order to establish an internship program for Villanova’s nursing students. Michele is a facilitator and part-time lecturer at Holy Family University and Gwynedd Mercy University in Pennsylvania and is a member of the Board of Trustees for Africa Faith and Justice Network.

Fr. Rocco Puopolo, a Xaverian Missionary Priest, served for twelve years over a 26 year span of time in Sierra Leone, West Africa. There he was an administrator of the local primary schools, a teacher in high school, a university chaplain, National Youth chaplain for the Young Christian Students and Catholic Youth Organization and director of a National Pastoral program that offered a variety of programs that equipped people for Integral Human Development, particularly peace studies.

Upon his return to the US, he served as director for the Xaverian graduate student study program in Chicago and a chaplain for a variety of youth retreats and service projects. In 2006, Fr. Rocco served as the Executive Director of the African Faith and Justice Network until 2011 when he returned to his native New England to co-direct a new youth initiative of the Xaverian Missionaries, the GYM (Global Youth Mission Services). He is a member of Xaverian Missionaries governing Board, Member of local Metro West and Fatima Shrine Pax Christi, as well as a State Board member for Pax Christi Massachusetts. He holds a Masters in Divinity with Cross Cultural Specialization from the Catholic Theological Union of Chicago. Fr. Rocco was a research fellow at the Institute of Conflict Analysis and Resolution, George Mason University, Fairfax, Virginia in 1994. He resides in Holliston, MA.

Fr. David Schwinghamer, MM is a member of the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers. He joined the AFJN Board in August, 2013 when he was assigned to the Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns as program associate for Africa and Sustainable Peace. His previous overseas experience stems from Tanzania. In Tanzania he learned Kiswahili and worked in several different parts of the country in both rural and urban assignments. From 1990-96 he was director of the Center for Faith and Justice in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. During his time there he coordinated training workshops for members of the Religious Superiors Association of Tanzania and did research on the agricultural policy of Tanzania. In 1994 he was an international election observer in both South Africa and Tanzania elections. He has graduate training in Conflict Transformation from Eastern Mennonite University and a M.A. in Social Science from the University of Chicago and holds a certificate in humanitarian disaster intervention from the International Disaster Institute in the UK. His areas of research focuses on the causes of hunger in Africa, the regional economy of Sukumaland, Tanzania, the Burundi peace process and the causes of war in Africa. From 1997-1999 he did pastoral work with the Jesuit Refugee Service in the refugee camps in western Tanzania.

Fr. Edward Tetteh, a member of the Divine Word Missionaries originally from Ghana, is a licensed professional counselor and pastor at the Church of the Blessed Sacrament-Our Lady of the Divine Shepherd in the Diocese of Trenton, New Jersey.
Fr. Tetteh professed final vows on September 8, 2000, ordained a priest on July 28, 2001 and was assigned to Chicago Province where he served as an associate pastor of the St. Elizabeth parish, the first African American parish in the Archdiocese of Chicago, from 2001 to 2003. In June 2003, the Provincial of Fr. Tetteh appointed him the pastor of Our Lady of the Divine Shepherd in the Diocese of Trenton and then on to the newly combined parish: Church of the Blessed Sacrament – Our Lady of the Divine Shepherd from 2005 to 2011.

From December 3, 2012 to September 3, 2014, he was a full-time counselor at Family Guidance Counseling Center in Joliet, IL. Fr. Tetteh was reassigned by his Provincial to the Church of Blessed Sacrament – Our Lady of the Divine Shepherd, Trenton, NJ in 2014, where he is pastorate and also serves as chaplain at Trenton Psychiatric Hospital, NJ State Prison and St. Francis Medical Center.

Fr. Tetteh has a BA in Religion and Philosophy from the University of Ghana, an MA in Community Counseling and Ed.S. in Counseling Services from Rider University in NJ. He is a National Certified Counselor, Grief Recovery Specialist and also a Specialist in Anger Management.

Fr. Tetteh is a member of the board of directors of the Trenton Area Ecumenical Ministry (TEAM) since 2005 and was appointed by the Chicago Province in November 2016 to represent Divine Word Missionaries in North America on the Africa Faith and Justice Network board.