By Kathleen M. Mangan, Journalist, USA.
In Eastern Africa, where historical conflicts between ethnic groups and religious ideological extremism can lead to hostility and violence, the Shalom Centre for Conflict Resolution and Reconciliation has worked diligently at conflict resolution and peace building. The founder, Fr. Patrick Devine, SMA, will speak about this important work on Thursday, November 1 at DePaul University Student Center at 7 pm.
The presentation, entitled “On the Ground in Eastern Africa: Creating Peace Amid Conflict & Religious Extremism,” is part of the Spiritual Works of Mercy Series. It is open to the public, free of charge, and will be held in Room 314A at the DePaul Student Center, 2250 N. Sheffield Avenue. There will be a reception at 6:30 p.m. Discounted parking with validation is offered at 2231 N. Sheffield Avenue.
“Religious ideological extremism creates a hostile cultural environment that suffocates tolerance, freedom, mercy and reconciliation,” says Fr. Devine. “The methodology we’ve developed for conflict management, peacemaking, forgiveness, development, and long-term, inter-ethnic tolerance and respect has proven effective over 10 years, and is an inspirational model for other conflict zones around the world.”
Fr. Devine has received international acclaim for his pioneering work in Eastern Africa. He received the 2013 International Caring Award, succeeding the Dalai Lama and followed by former President Bill Clinton. In 2014, eight countries in Eastern Africa presented him with the prestigious IGAD Award for his visionary contribution to peace and development in the region. He was also nominated for the Tipperary International Peace Award. A native of Ireland, he holds a PhD in political science and public administration from the University of Nairobi.
The Shalom Centre for Conflict Resolution and Reconciliation is an inter-religious organization, and its mission is to work towards a society free of physical violence and unjust social structures in Eastern Africa, explains Fr. Devine. The staff, all qualified with at least a master’s degree, conducts empirical research on the root causes of inter-ethnic conflicts; organizes workshops to facilitate resolution and reconciliation between factions; trains local peace-builders; and develops clean water sources and inter-ethnic schools with solar energy.
Inter-religious and inter-ethnic education is a benefit that will enhance the long-term stability of the regions, according to Fr. Devine. The Shalom Centre for Conflict Resolution and Reconciliation has completed 350 school projects as a direct result of the peace development process since 2009.
“For true, positive peace, there must be not only an absence of violence, but the conflicting parties must care about each other’s well-being, security and development,” says Fr. Devine.
For more information on this Eastern Africa peace building presentation on November 1 at DePaul University, go to http://go.depaul.edu/Forgive.