It’s not every school day that students get to interact with someone who works at and for the Vatican. That is why when the opportunity to bring Br. Guy Consolmagno, SJ, director of the Vatican Observatory, to Regis Jesuit High School, Denver, for two days of interactive sessions with our student and parent communities, the school jumped at the chance.
Brother Guy came to campus on Thursday, April 20 and Friday, April 21 for a series of interactive sessions with students, parents, alumni and the greater Denver community around the topic of science and its convergence with faith. Throughout both school days, he presented to students in theology and science classes. At an all-school assembly on Thursday, Br. Guy talked about finding his vocation both as a scientist and a Jesuit brother, emphasizing how important the fundamentals learned at a Jesuit high school are later in life. He was joined that day by several members of the school’s faculty and staff for a discussion over lunch as well.
On Thursday evening, Br. Guy addressed the question of “Does Science Need Faith?” in a presentation for parents, alumni and the general public. During this talk, he exhibited how fundamental his faith is in his pursuit of scientific truth, completely engaging an audience estimated at about 300 with his wit and multi-media presentation style.
“It's very exciting for our community to have someone of Br. Guy's international reputation join us,” related Jim Broderick King ’87, Regis Jesuit’s Ignatian Identity Coordinator. “But rather than presenting as an intimidating academic, he helped our students and our community better understand the relationship of faith and science with his sense of humor and relatable anecdotes.”
The school’s librarians worked to bring Consolmagno to campus for this visit as part of the school’s expanding focus on curricula related to STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics). The school’s student media team, RJ Media, recorded both the all-school assembly presentation and his evening presentation, which they also livestreamed.
Brother Guy Consolmagno, SJ is the Director of the Vatican Observatory; winner of Carl Sagan Medal for excellence in public communication in planetary sciences; and writer of hundreds of scientific articles and a number of popular books including Would You Baptize an Extraterrestrial? and Turn Left at Orion.
Brother Guy became an astronomer and professor of astronomy before deciding, in 1983, to join the Peace Corps as a way to contribute to the world outside the confines of a university. He was assigned to teach astronomy to university students in Kenya, but he often found himself admiring the night sky. In 1989 he returned to his devout Catholic upbringing and an early desire to join the Roman Catholic order of the Society of Jesus. Two years later he was called to the Vatican Observatory at Castel Gandolfo, Italy—the Pope's summer home—to do astronomical research. A specialist in meteorites, he became curator of the Vatican's meteorite collection, one of the world's largest. Consolmagno divides his time between Castel Gandolfo and the Vatican's observatory on Mount Graham, near Tucson, Arizona, where he studies the Edgeworth-Kuiper Belt of planetoids. Often referring to himself as a "missionary of science," he travels widely and was part of the team of astronomers who determined that Pluto is no longer a planet at the meeting of the International Astronomical Union in Prague in 2006.
Regis Jesuit High School is a Catholic, college preparatory high school offering single-gender education to young men and women in grades 9-12. Sponsored by the Society of Jesus, our innovative educational model combines the advantages of single gender instruction with opportunities for young men and women to serve, pray and socialize together, and is the only Jesuit high school in the United States to do so. The school draws upon both the nearly 500-year-old traditions established by St. Ignatius, as well as its own history of well over a century to form Men and Women with and for Others.