This past weekend, the University’s Theology Department sponsored a conference on Vatican II. It was entitled Word, Church, World: Vatican II Fifty Years On, and it was free and open to the public!
The conference started Friday night with a welcoming note from our president, Father Quinn, and an invocation from Bishop Bambera, the bishop of the diocese of Scranton. After this, Fr. Joseph Komanchak gave the keynote address. He spoke about the second Vatican council as “event” and analyzed the different things people means when they use the term “Vatican II.”
Saturday consisted of four mini talks given by pairs of knowledgeable scholars. I joined the conference to hear a talk about Dei Verbum, a document written during Vatican II that addresses holy scripture and how it relates to the people of the Church. One of the presenters of this part of the conference was Dr. Mahri Leonard-Fleckman; she will be joining the University next year as a professor in the Theology Department. I plan to take her Old Testament class next semester, so it was nice to get a feel for her teaching style.
I enjoyed learning about the changes that Vatican II enacted in the Church. Because I was born into a time when these changes had already taken place, I did not have a clear idea of what the Church was like before the council and how exactly the council mandated changes. Many of the people at the conference had personally experienced these changes. For me, however, the council seems more like something from a history textbook than from my personal narrative, even though in the larger scheme, it did not take place very long ago. This conference increased my knowledge of an event in my faith, and I believe this is a good thing because of the importance of tradition in Christianity. Remembrance of a shared past draws people deeper into community; I hope that my new understanding of Vatican II can increase my communal ties to others in the Church.