There was time for one more question before the close of the Marianist Lecture. Chaminade student Noelani Tugaoen stood up and politely asked, “How are we able to foster the dialogue of faith and science with those who are younger and don’t have any experience with the religious world?”
Lecturer Bro. Guy Consolmagno, S. J. half-smiled before laughing and saying, “Boy, I wish I knew the answer to that.” The audience then joined him in light laughter.
As the Director of the Vatican Observatory and President of the Vatican Observatory Foundation, Consolmagno clearly knows the answers to most any question that comes his way. A native of Detroit, Michigan, he earned undergraduate and masters’ degrees from MIT, and a Ph. D. in Planetary Science from the University of Arizona; he was a postdoctoral research fellow at Harvard and MIT, served in the US Peace Corps (Kenya), and taught university physics at Lafayette College before entering the Jesuits in 1989.
Yet on October 8th in the Mystical Rose Oratory as part of the Marianist Lecture Series, he humbly replied that he didn’t know the answer to Tugaoen’s question.
His lecture, “God’s Mechanics: How Scientists and Engineers Make Sense of Religion,” however, was packed with answers to lofty questions about science, astronomy, commonalities and differences between different religions, and – ultimately – what “believing in God gets you.” He also delved into ways that “techies” deal with why so many religions exist in our world today.
At the Vatican Observatory since 1993, Consolmagno’s research has explored connections between meteorites, asteroids, and the evolution of small solar system bodies, observing Kuiper Belt objects with the Vatican’s 1.8 meter telescope in Arizona, and applying his measure of meteorite physical properties to understanding asteroid origins and structure.
Consolmagno also spoke with Chaminade Scholars on October 6 during lunch. The conversation was lively and insightful with much mutual respect between Consolmagno and the students. At the end of the presentation, Consolmagno was presented with the Mackey Award for Catholic Thought, given to a speaker per year. This award is given to those who help continue the Marianist charism and make a difference in the community.
The Marianist Lecture series is sponsored by Chaminade University, Marianist Center of Hawaii and St. Louis School with the next installment of the series on February 18, 2024 featuring Dr. Steve Neiheisel who will focus on Catholics in the public square during an election year.