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Leading national and international speakers and top creative minds working in theology and philosophy will converge on Christ the King Seminary in East Aurora the weekend of February 23-24 for the 2018 Conference for Collaborative Philosophy, Theology, and Ministry. The conference's keynote speakers represent institutions from three continents - the U.S., Europe and Australia.
Rev. Joseph C. Gatto, president-rector, Christ the King Seminary, said the conference represents a watershed moment for the Diocese of Buffalo in the education of seminarians and the evolution of priestly formation not only in Western New York but throughout the U.S.
"This two-day conference will bring together a first-class, high-caliber team of scholars and ministers, along with prominent, acclaimed speakers who are engaged in many of the most exciting projects underway in contemporary theology," said Father Gatto. "It will equip our students, faculty and all attendees who are engaged in the church's many ministries - intellectual, pastoral and catechetical - with new theoretical resources for carrying out the mission to which they have been called by the Word and Spirit."
Keynote speakers for the conference include:
Mabry, a full-time professor at the seminary, a Ph.D. candidate and the former interim director of the prestigious Lonergan Research Institute at Regis College in Toronto, said the event will advance and expand what Rev. Bernard Lonergan, S.J. (regarded as one of the most important philosopher-theologians of the 20th Century) called the "not numerous center."
"Most conferences such as this are extremely introverted or inwardly focused, but our goal is to bring all participants into the conversation through dialog and intellectual discourse," said Mabry. "The goal is to promote sound, creative and constructive theology through the fostering of interdisciplinary and inter-contextual friendships. Whether participants lean to the right or the left, we are committed to finding a balanced and Christ-centered approach to help overcome polarizations and polemics."
Mabry said what is happening at Christ the King Seminary in terms of this conference and the rigorous academic and spiritual path to priesthood resulting from the restructured Pre-Theology program at the seminary is gaining national attention.
"An exclusively diocesan-focused model of educating seminarians has entered its twilight," said Mabry. "The new national and increasingly global vision supported by The Most. Rev. Richard J. Malone, Bishop of Buffalo, and being implemented by Father Gatto and the faculty and staff here at Christ the King is both challenging and changing people's mindsets regarding priestly formation. We are anticipating and helping to shape the future direction of our Church and the world in which we live."
Bajzek, an adjunct professor at the seminary and Ph.D. candidate at University of Toronto, said, "The conference's speakers all occupy a horizon of hope, overcoming contemporary challenges by incarnating the values of charity, creativity, and collaboration. These speakers also all appreciate the importance of integrating theory and practice, and we hope the conference encourages conversation and fellowship between groups that often operate at a distance. Each of us is called, in our own way, to be a philosopher, to be a theologian, and to be a minister. Whether we work in seminaries, universities, or parishes, we all participate in the same mission."
For more information about the conference, please visit the events section of the seminary web site or call Gayle Mann at 716-805-1438.