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SMC to hold Vatican II conference

Meehan, Kelly | Friday, September 23, 2005

To commemorate the 40th Anniversary of the Second Vatican Council, Saint Mary’s will be holding a two-day conference today and Saturday focusing on the Council’s legacy, leadership and its unfinished agenda.

Sister Kathleen Dolphin – coordinator of the Vatican II conference – said the forum will be comprised of conversation groups led by various speakers who will present the audience with opening commentaries regarding gender issues in the church, the role of the Church in today’s world and intercultural issues.

The first discussion group will begin today at 9:30 a.m. in Moreau Little Theater, followed by a second group set to begin at 1:30 p.m. The discussion groups will continue on Saturday morning at 9:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Both will be held in Carroll Auditorium in Madeleva Hall.

“This is a very important event for both Catholics and non-Catholics interested in ecumenism – especially during these thread-baring years of Catholicism,” Dolphin said.

The keynote event will take place tonight at 7 p.m. in O’Laughlin Auditorium, where CNN journalist Judy Woodruff will be hosting “In Conversation with Council Participants.” Guest speakers at the event will include Bishop Remi Joseph De Roo, a voting participant at the Council. He is one of approximately eight surviving bishops of the 2,500 who voted at the Council.

Also participating in tonight’s conversation will be Father Gustavo Gutierrez, an observer at Vatican II and Notre Dame theology professor; Father Robert Pelton, advisor to Cardinal Suennens at the Council and Fellow at the Kellogg Institute; Sister Carmel McEnroy, author of “Guests in Their Own House: The Women of Vatican II;” Gregory Baum, official observer of the Council and faculty of religious studies at McGill University; and Martin Marty, official Protestant observer at the Council and Lutheran minister.

Choosing Judy Woodruff to lead the central conversation was a primary goal for Dolphin, who worked to secure a high-profile female proctor highly knowledgeable in the Catholic religion.

Woodruff will field questions to the guest speakers, who will be seated in a more casual set-up on stage than normally found in a conventional panel discussion. Dolphin said the speakers are slated to discuss “tough topics that question Vatican II experiments.”

“One of the key themes of this celebration has been the examination of the changing role of women in the Church and world since 1965,” Dolphin said in a statement. “Saint Mary’s College just completed its 160th year as a leader in higher education for women, so there is a double reason to focus on this theme. It seems to me that if such exploration can’t happen at a place like Saint Mary’s College, with its strong mission and vision, I would say then that it probably is not possible anywhere,” Dolphin said.

The event was scheduled to air live on C-SPAN, however producers contacted the College and said they were no longer able to broadcast the event. Grassroots Media will film the conference for archival purposes.

All events of the conference are open and free to Notre Dame, Saint Mary’s and Holy Cross faculty, staff and students. Only the Judy Woodruff conversation session will be free to the public. Anyone not a member of the College community who wishes to attend conference events must register with the SMC Center for Spirituality. Organizers estimate 100 registered participants will come from throughout the Midwest to attend this weekend’s conference.

“Attending events such as this allow students and all participants involved to become a leader in both the world and Church at a time when they both need [leaders] very badly,” Dolphin said.