Diego Cadri

Defense Date


Graduation Date

Summer 2007


Immediate Access

Submission Type


Degree Name





McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts

Committee Chair

George S. Worgul

Committee Member

Maureen R. O'Brien

Committee Member

Sean P. Kealy


African Basic Communities, Catholic Church in West Nile Region, Dioceses of Arua and Nebbi, Lugbara People of Uganda, Neighborhood Church, Theologies of Small Christian communities


This dissertation depicted the events in the lives of the Lugbara Ethnic group, who will go down in the history of Uganda, through their actual existence, their deeds, their accomplishments and their contributions, but particularly because of their successful, "small Christian communities," an important segment in all its facets, in the Lugbara Christian life. The new way of being Church that came out of the Second Vatican Council, that is, since the 1960s was the small Christian community. These pages narrated the development, the early struggle, the uncertainty, the needs, the goals, the purposes, the accomplishments and the success of this type of community, without which the African Catholic population would not function in the way it was intended. The small Christian communities play an extremely important role in the Lugbara people's life, way back to the grass roots.

The first chapter of the dissertation focuses on the life and culture of the Lugbara people of Uganda, and answer the question: who are the Lugbara people of Uganda? It explored both how the Lugbara culture and their contact with the outside world impacted their community life and eventually the development of small Christian communities in the Catholic Church. It examined the Lugbara people and their land, and traced the origin and history of the Lugbara people in general, but with special focus on the Lugbara of Uganda. It surveyed the social structure, the economic system, and the political aspect of the Lugbara people, and examined Lugbara traditional religions. It explored the Lugbara contact with the outside world such as the Arab slave traders, the European colonialists, the missionary groups such as the African Inland Mission (Quakers), the Comboni missionaries (Roman Catholic), and the Anglican Church. It also reviewed how these various groups, who occupied their land and the influence received from the outside world, affected community life.

The second chapter of the dissertation began with the question, what are small Christian communities? It located the phenomenon of small Christian communities within the Catholic Church today. It explored the development of small Christian communities in Africa, by looking at the background of the community structure in Africa. It reviewed the history of the AMECEA study conferences of the Eastern Africa bishops, during 1973, 1976 and 1979, and their accomplishments. It examined the purpose and development of small Christian communities in Uganda, Arua and Nebbi dioceses, particularly among the Lugbara of Uganda.

Chapter three of the dissertation investigates the theological and pastoral aspects of the small Christian communities in the Catholic Church and among the Lugbara people of Uganda. The theologies of small Christian communities are deeply rooted in the Catholic tradition such as Comboni missionary activities among the Lugbara, the Second Vatican Council, Papal documents, and the African synod of bishops. The contemporary pastoral activities of small Christian communities among the Lugbara people will include: Bible sharing in their meetings; networks and twinning with other small Christian communities both local and international; the rites of Christian initiation of Adults (RCIA); caring for needy people and developing a health care ministry.

Chapter four of the dissertation attempted to evaluate the small Christian communities among the Lugbara people of Uganda. It examined the positive aspects and contributions of the emerging small Christian communities and their effect upon the Catholic Church in the Arua and the Nebbi dioceses among the Lugbara people. It focused also on the negative elements and submitted some suggestions to improve them. The chapter end with the general conclusion.