Holy Cross College is excited to share that Father Fred Jenga, C.S.C., will be the commencement speaker at the 56th commencement. The ceremony will take place at 2:00 p.m. on May 20, 2023, on the college campus.
Father Fred Jenga, C.S.C., is the President of Holy Cross Family Ministries, a worldwide family of Catholic ministries founded by Father Patrick Peyton, C.S.C., in 1942 as Family Rosary, and later in 1947 as Family Theater Productions. Holy Cross Family Ministries continues the legacy of Venerable Patrick Peyton, the “Rosary Priest” and Catholic media pioneer. Father Peyton spent 51 years of his priesthood (1941-1992) serving the spiritual needs of families, particularly encouraging them to pray together daily, especially the Rosary. Today, Father Jenga leads and oversees all ministries of this international organization, focused on promoting prayer life and family prayer. With 27 ministry centers in 17 countries, the organization helps families pray as is reflected in the founder’s famous credo, “The family that prays together stays together.”
Father Jenga was born in 1974 in the Jinja District of Uganda. In addition to his native language of Lusoga, he speaks English, Luganda, Kiswahili and Rutooro. He is currently learning Spanish. Father Jenga is a member of the Congregation of Holy Cross and made his solemn vows in 2005 and was ordained a priest in the same year. He earned a Bachelor of Philosophy from Pontifical Urban University in Rome, Bachelor of Theology from Catholic University of East Africa, Master’s in Journalism and Communication at Makerere University of Kampala, Master’s in Communication Studies at San Francisco State University, and a doctorate in Communication Studies from University of Texas at Austin.
Passionate about helping families pray and grow spiritually, Father Jenga serves with a team of professionals pioneering innovative ways to benefit 21st century families. Guiding all of Holy Cross Family Ministries’ efforts is the recognition that “The Family that Prays Together Stays Together” and “A world at prayer is a world at peace.” Building on Father Peyton’s rich legacy, Holy Cross Family Ministries uses mass media, social media, and live events to accomplish its mission across five continents. Father Jenga is committed to helping to accomplish this one family at a time. He believes that Pope Francis’ bold statement in calling the family “God’s Masterpiece” echoes Venerable Patrick Peyton’s belief about the family as “our most prized possession.”
He is a public intellectual, who regularly writes for various national Ugandan newspapers such as the New Vision, Daily Monitor, and Weekly Observer. Father Jenga has also been interviewed by the BBC World Service on matters of religion in the public space.
Father Jenga has served as a teacher in Africa, China, and the United States. Prior to his current role as President, he served seven years as the East Africa Region Director of Holy Cross Family Ministries, where he developed a cross-cultural competence that is an asset in guiding this worldwide ministry. Within East Africa, he established full-time teams of lay people who continue to work as effective collaborators.
For the past five years, Father Jenga has served as a Corporate Board Member of Holy Cross Family Ministries, where he worked with the Executive Team at the world headquarters in North Easton, Massachusetts. He lived in the United States for seven years while pursuing advanced studies at several universities.
His graduate studies in communications have enabled Father Jenga to actively serve as a teacher, lecturer, and seminary formator. He has taught at Tangaza University College in Kenya and Shanghai University in China, as well as the University of Texas at Austin, San Francisco State University, and University of California Berkeley in the United States. In addition, he has earned certificates in Research and Writing Skills from the Centre for Basic Research in Kampala and Training in Human Rights from the Uganda Human Rights Commission.
As a rhetorician, Father Jenga studies persuasion in religious and political messaging. His work focuses on finding strategic and effective ways to create and disseminate ideas and concepts. This understanding of communications has made him a sought-after presenter at numerous academic conferences in the United States, United Kingdom, and China. He has also served as a researcher and had his work published in several peer-reviewed books and journals. His articles have appeared in the “Journal of Communication and Religion,” “Dialogues in Social Justice: An Adult Education Journal,” “Journal of Religion and Society,” “Journal of Health Communication,” as well as various other titles.
His knowledge and expertise in communications has resulted in several academic awards and appointments, including Research Fellow in the Project on Conflict Resolution at the University of Texas at Austin, Distinguished Achievement Award for Academic Excellence at the College of Liberal and Creative Arts with San Francisco State University, the Routledge, 2018 Francis & Taylor Award from the National Communication Association, and Outstanding Graduate Student in Communication Studies at San Francisco State University.
In addition, Father Jenga serves or has served on the Lions Club of Austin, the Awards Committee for Rhetoric Society of America, the Committee on Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility of the Department of Communication Studies at the University of Texas at Austin, and is a member of the leadership team of the Congregation of Holy Cross in East Africa.
Photo provided by Father Fred Jenga, C.S.C.