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Fr. David Brown, SJ
Jesuit Archives & Research Center Opens with Symposium on Jesuits and the Sciences

April 24, 2018 — The new Jesuit Archives & Research Center (JARC) in St. Louis hosted its first official academic event today, one day before it opens to researchers. The fourth annual Jesuit Research Student Symposium, co-sponsored with Saint Louis University, featured two students and Father David Brown, SJ, of the Vatican Observatory, presenting on Jesuits and the Sciences. 

All three speakers reflected on the intersection between faith, culture and science. 

Fr. Brown, an astronomer at the Vatican Observatory in Rome, said that the observatory staff — all Jesuits — are frequently called upon to talk about the intersection of faith and science. “There’s a tremendous amount of interest in that topic today,” he said. 

He spoke about the long tradition of Jesuits working in the sciences, and in particular at the Vatican Observatory. He presented numerous arguments to debunk the myth that faith and science cannot co-exist. “If the word deemed it fitting to take our flesh, then surely science is a fit path to the knowledge of God,” he said. 

“The Jesuit zeal for the sciences comes directly from the Spiritual Exercises,” Fr. Brown said, adding that science is “just another version of finding God in all things.” 

Kaitlyn Centini

Kaitlyn Centini presented on
Jesuit missionary Matteo Ricci 
 Kieran Halloran
 Kieran Halloran, SJ, spoke about
Pope Francis' encyclical Laudato Si
Kaitlyn Centini, a student at Lindenwood University, was the inaugural speaker at the brand new JARC, delivering a paper on "Matteo Ricci: Leader of the Jesuit Mission in China." Her research focused on the ways Ricci used cultural accommodation to evangelize in China in the 16th century. Ricci adopted Chinese dress and customs out of respect for the people of China and harmonized Confucian teachings with Christian ethics. He is perhaps the originator of what has since become standard practice for Jesuit missionaries and educators: meeting people where they are in order to spread the Gospel message. 

Kieran Halloran, SJ, a Jesuit scholastic, followed Ms. Centini with his paper on "Laudato Si': A Jesuit Engagement with Technology." He explored the overlap between Pope Francis’ encyclical on the environment and Martin Heidegger’s book "The Question Concerning Technology" (1954). Heidegger, a German philosopher, observed that the essence of technology shapes how we view the world, foreshadowing by 60 years the pope’s message that science and technology can have moral implications. 

Halloran also noted how the pope’s foundation in Ignatian spirituality is evident in Laudato Si'. Fr. Brown echoed the sentiment when he pointed out that St. Ignatius’ First Principle also emphasizes being in right relationship with creation. 

“Observing God’s creation is a profoundly mystical experience for me,” Fr. Brown said. “My work as an astronomer is an act of adoration.” 





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