A conference to celebrate Saint Ambrose, the "forgotten father" of the Catholic church, seems a bit forthright.
But for our University's patron saint, it's fitting that we recognize a man who was not particularly well-known, sometimes misunderstood, and definitely worthy of celebration.
The Academy for the Study of Saint Ambrose of Milan will host an international conference on campus April 6-8 with international scholars and SAU faculty leading sessions about how Ambrose created community.
"As far as we know, this is the first American conference to focus exclusively on the First Father of the Church," said Academy co-director Fr. Robert Grant. "Our conference is singularly interesting because it has attracted scholars from around the world and from multiple academic disciplines."
Rita Lizzi, PhD, renowned Ambrose scholar and Roman history professor from the University of Perugia, Italy, will give the keynote address April 6. The second keynote will be the next day, April 7 at 4:30 p.m., and delivered by J. Warren Smith, PhD, another Ambrose scholar and historical theologian from Duke Divinity School.
Ambrose was deeply invested in every aspect of the social, economic, political, cultural, and spiritual life of Milan. This is what it means to be Ambrosian.
Saint Ambrose of Milan, a Primer, 2nd edition
Focusing on Community
Saint Ambrose promoted the idea of community through his life and teachings. The conference itself – by joining together scholars from around the world and blurring lines between disciplines – certainly is one definition of Ambrose's community. He also cared for any and all in the community who were in need. "It is not enough just to wish well," Ambrose said. "We must also do well" (de Off. I. 143).
Another part of the conference seeks to draw even more people into the Ambrose community. A workshop aimed at parishioners, parochial schools, the spiritual, and lay people will offer education about Ambrose and his important role in Catholicism. What Ambrose preached hundreds of years ago is still remarkably relevant in today's churches and their means to provoke change and economic justice in their communities.
"Ambrose's interests were aimed at the needs of a vibrant church," Fr. Grant said. "He spoke truth to the powerful; he challenged the merchants; he nurtured vocations; he extended compassion to the vulnerable; he grieved for the dead; he continues to touch lives through his music and practical theology."
In short, participants will learn what it means to be Ambrosian.
- Music professor William Campbell, PhD, wrote arrangements for each of the five hymns in "Ambrosian Hymns in Contemporary Arrangements" for the SAU Chamber Singers, directed by SAU music assistant professor Nathan Windt, PhD.
- SAU professors from multiple disciplines will deliver lectures throughout the three-day conference.
- Artist Paul Herrera will lead a rubbing and stone-cutting session in the spirit of Fr. Edward Catich in the Galvin Fine Arts Center, Morrissey Gallery, as part of the exhibition, "An Iconic Ambrosian: Fr. Edward Catich."