Lecture at Mount to explore impact of Vatican II, 50 years in

August 30, 2012

Newburgh, N.Y. -

Fr. Robert Christian, OPMount Saint Mary College’s Catholic and Dominican Institute will host a free public talk, “The Church of the Second Vatican Council: A Work Complete, Yet Always in Progress,” on September 27 at 7 pm.

The lecture will take place at Founders Chapel in Guzman Hall, on campus at 330 Powell Avenue Newburgh.

Theologian Fr. Robert Christian, OP, will present the talk, which marks the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council.

Fr. Christian (pictured at right) has worked at the Vatican, served in many administrative capacities in the Dominican community, and educated students from around the globe.

He will enlighten listeners with exploring the meaning of Latin phrases such as “Ecclesia Christi subsistit in Ecclesia Catholica” from the Vatican II document “Lumen Gentium” and how the wording denotes both continuity and reform over the original expression, “Ecclesia Christi est Ecclesia Catholica.”

He will also discuss how ecumenical dialogue furthers the exploration of faith, making such dialogue vital to the Church’s continued growth and well-being.

“The Church’s engagement in ecumenical dialogue is not, say, an exercise in mere good will, wherein the Catholic Church does not actually believe she has anything to gain; she stands to gain an appreciation of what she already possesses, and she stands to strengthen the appreciation of dialogue partners of those same elements,” said Fr. Christian.

“Vatican II” significantly articulated the protocol of the Roman Catholic Church and its relationship with the modern world. Pope John XXIII convened the Second Vatican Council to “throw open the windows of the church so that we can see out and the people can see in.”

More than 2,500 Catholic bishops and priests participated. Invitations were also extended to Protestant and Orthodox Eastern churches and to male and female religious orders.

The Second Vatican Council discerned that increased lay participation in the liturgy necessitated celebration in local languages, instead of just Latin. The council also addressed religious freedom, the Church’s overall mission, and many other issues.

Born and raised in San Francisco, Fr. Christian attended a Jesuit university. During his junior year in Italy, he lived in a Dominican parish.

“During that year I realized that God was calling me to priesthood in a contemplative and active religious order that prays the choral office and shares all things – even decisions – in common,” he said.

He wrote to his vocation director in California, and after graduation he entered the Dominican novitiate. He was ordained a priest in 1976.

The Catholic and Dominican Institute, directed by Charles Zola, assistant professor of philosophy, promotes the college’s heritage; advances the Dominican charism of study and service; provides a forum for discussion of contemporary ethical issues; and enhances Catholic and Jewish dialogue. Guided by the college’s vision and mission statement, the institute welcomes persons of varied faiths and acknowledges different religious traditions as essential to the college’s intellectual and spiritual life.

Future Catholic and Dominican Institute events at the Mount include a presentation by Sr. Nancy Murray, OP (actor Bill Murray’s sister) about the Dominican saint Catherine of Siena, on Thursday, October 11. Nancy Marie Brown will visit the Mount on Monday, November 19 to speak about her book “The Abacus and the Cross” in the Villa Library.