WelCom News
A newspaper for the Wellington and Palmerston North Catholic Dioceses

The Pope’s Astronomer and Observatory Director to visit New Zealand

WelCom March 2019:

‘Our God is too small’

Annette Scullion

Vatican Observatory Director,
Br Guy Consolmasagno is visiting New Zealand in May 2019. Photo: Vatican Observatory

Internationally acclaimed astronomer and director of the Vatican Observatory, Br Guy Consolmasagno SJ, will be visiting New Zealand from 25 April to 9 May this year, with support from the Catholic Enquiry Centre.

Br Guy Consolmasagno’s visit will take in a trip to Tekapo’s University of Canterbury Mount John Observatory, Dunedin, Christchurch, Auckland and Wellington. He will present on faith and science with the theme, ‘Our God is too small,’ to students, young adults, universities, Catholic networks and tertiary groups.

In Wellington he will speak at the Cardinal’s Catholic luncheon, at Te Papa on 7 May.

Br Consolmagno is a leading American research astronomer, an internationally-renowned speaker, a Jesuit brother and President of the Vatican Observatory Foundation. With more than 200 scientific publications, he is also the author of numerous books and has hosted many science programmes for
the BBC.

He strongly believes in the need for science and religion to work alongside one another rather than as competing ideologies. He last visited New Zealand in 2016 to take part in a conference panel entitled ‘Is There Life Out There?’ along with a group of experts and academics at Great Barrier Island. During his visit he said, ‘If you love God, you’re going to love the things God made. This is going to make you want to know more and more about how the universe actually functions. Deeper than that, there’s a sense that understanding science, and especially astronomy, is a great way to pull yourself out of the ordinary; you recognise the universe is much bigger than your concerns about day-to-day life.’

Br Consolmagno was raised in Detroit, Michigan, and studied Earth and Planetary Sciences at MIT and at the University of Arizona for his doctorate. He spent time teaching astronomy in Nairobi for the Peace Corps and joined the Jesuit order in 1989. In 1991, he joined the Vatican Observatory where he has since served as an astronomer. He was curator of the Vatican meteorite collection until his appointment in 2014 as president of the Vatican Observatory Foundation.

Br Br Consolmagno’s research has explored connections between meteorites, asteroids, and the evolution of small solar system bodies, observing Kuiper Belt comets and applying his measure of meteorite physical properties to understanding asteroid origins and structure. His research focuses on the smallest bodies in the solar system, and covers such things as Black Holes, Gravitational Waves, and Space-Time Singularities. His work at the Vatican has enabled him to make significant contributions to this field over several decades. In 2014, he was awarded the Carl Sagan Medal by the American Astronomical Society for outstanding communication of planetary science to the public.

The Vatican Observatory was formally re-founded in 1891 by Pope Leo XIII to counteract accusations that there was a conflict between Church and science. Go to www.vofoundation.org to learn more about the Foundation.

A variety of events are being confirmed for Br Guy Consolmagno in Wellington. Please keep an eye on facebook.com/catholicdiscovery.nz for details to be posted over the next few weeks.

The Catholic Enquiry Centre promotes the beliefs and practices of the Catholic Faith. Based in Wellington since 1961, the CEC is an agency of the Catholic Bishops of New Zealand and is supported spiritually and financially by Catholics throughout the country.

The Cardinal’s lunch organisers invite businesses and or individuals to a sponsor table at Br Guy Consolmagno’s presentation on 7 May at Te Papa, Wellington. If you wish to kindly donate a table towards helping support others to attend this event, please contact Malcolm Gill at m.gill@wn.catholic.org.nz or ph (04) 496-1724.