Reconciling Charisma: Healing, Conflict, and Identity in Catholic Charismatic Movements in Uganda

Doctoral Dissertation


This dissertation analyzes how two Catholic charismatic lay apostolate associations, which emphasize the gifts of the Holy Spirit, shape Catholic parish life, informing how parishioners understand and practice their faith and forming them into cohorts of Christians embracing distinctive configurations of Catholic identity and practice. It compares two groups active in a rural parish in western Uganda: the internationally-linked Catholic Charismatic Renewal (CCR) and the Bakaiso, a movement of local origin devoted to the Uganda Martyrs.

Association members’ sense of themselves as commissioned to promote authentic Catholic practice among themselves and their neighbors generated controversy, for that vocation presumed particular ideals toward which they were called to motivate their Catholic community as well as particular paths considered best for pursuing those goals. Inter-association critique was a critical mechanism by which the CCR and Bakaiso groups differentiated themselves from each other and enunciated arguments for their favored Spirit-empowered devotional habits, outreach activities, organizational patterns, and modes of belonging in the Catholic Church.

Drawing on archival research, interviews, and ethnographic participant observation, this dissertation analyzes how the ritual practice and organizational cultures of the two associations cultivated divergent styles of Catholic practice. Chapters 2 through 4 explore both groups’ development in light of the history of Catholic Action and lay apostolate groups in Uganda, showing how the CCR and Bakaiso built on different patterns of lay associational life developed in the early and mid-twentieth century for nurturing lay formation and leadership. These chapters also show how healing and deliverance ministries served as often-controversial means of popularizing both movements, and they highlight how the CCR in particular developed close links with mainstream ecclesial institutions like seminaries and the Uganda Episcopal Conference. Chapters 5 and 6 analyze how the CCR and Bakaiso associations’ devotional habits, outreach practices, and organizational patterns located participants differently in the church, fostering different relationships with Ugandan landscapes and the global church. While the CCR cultivated horizontal international networks that connected Ugandan participants with Catholic charismatics worldwide, the Bakaiso prioritized geographically circumscribed and territorially rooted worship and outreach.


Attribute NameValues
Author Alison Fitchett Climenhaga
Contributor Paul V. Kollman, CSC, Research Director
Contributor Emmanuel Katongole, Committee Member
Contributor Mary Ellen Konieczny, Committee Member
Contributor Timothy Matovina, Committee Member
Contributor Thomas Tweed, Committee Member
Degree Level Doctoral Dissertation
Degree Discipline Theology
Degree Name Doctor of Philosophy
Banner Code

Defense Date
  • 2018-12-07

Submission Date 2019-02-18
  • Catholic Charismatic Renewal

  • Uganda Martyrs Guild (Bakaiso)

  • Pentecostal-charismatic Christianity

  • Lay movements

  • Evangelization

  • Catholic Action

  • Catholic Church

  • Popular devotions

  • Religion

  • Uganda

  • English

Record Visibility Public
Content License
  • All rights reserved

Departments and Units
Catalog Record

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