In this 800th anniversary of the life of Saint Bonaventure, Franciscan Sister Marie Kolbe Zamora moderated a session at a special International Congress in Rome, Italy highlighting this Franciscan friar. She shares her experience.
2017 marked the 800th anniversary of Giovanni Fidanza who, as a Friar, became renown as Bonaventure of Bagnoregio. Franciscans committed to the Franciscan Intellectual Tradition celebrated this important anniversary in a variety of ways. The Pontifical Gregorian University, in collaboration with the Pontifical University Antonianum and the Pontifical University of St. Bonaventure sponsored a 3 day international congress in Rome (November 15 – 17, 2017) entitled Deus Summe Cognoscibilis (God the Most Knowable of All Reality): The Relevance of St. Bonaventure’s Theology. Conference organizers brought together esteemed Bonaventurian scholars from Europe and the United States to demonstrate the relevance of Bonaventure’s theology for today. A year out from the conference, Sister Marie Kolbe Zamora received an invitation to moderate one of the scheduled sessions entitled “Trinitarian Institution of the Sacraments.” The panel for this session included Wayne Hellman, O.F.M. Conv. as the main presenter (who presented in English), a young theologian from the Antonianum (whose response to Wayne Hellman’s paper was delivered in Spanish) and a theologian from the Gregorian (whose response was delivered in Italian).
Well before the conference, the work of moderating tasked Sister Marie Kolbe with mediating an online conversation (via email) between all three presenters to ensure that their texts complemented one another. In some cases, she suggested editions to their papers in order to strengthen the “live” conversation in Rome. During the Congress, Sister Marie Kolbe 1) moderated the presentations to guarantee that there would be enough time at the end for a live debate with the audience and 2) moderated the live debate by directing questions (whether written or oral) to the appropriate panel member.
The days of the conference began at 9 a.m. and ended at 9 p.m.. The morning included 4 hours of panel presentations / debate, followed by a 2 hour lunch break. The afternoon recommenced with another 4 hours of panel presentations / debate followed by Mass and a late supper. Sister Marie Kolbe likened the experience to “being present to a living bibliography. All of the scholars whose work contributed to my own dissertation were making presentations and engaging in conversations that were enlightening and even inspiring. This is the first time I have been able to listen to such Bonaventurian experts live. It was a real blessing.” Thankfully a good number of Sister Marie Kolbe’s colleagues from her time in Rome also participated in the conference, making it possible to continue what she calls “important pilgrimage conversations”.
The work of moderating continues as she edits a number of the English language presentations, preparing them for the publication that will serve future scholars as a record for all of the contributions made at this Congress. “It was an honor to have been asked to contribute to this very important moment in Bonaventurian studies as well as to have been asked to contribute an article to the volume that will be published. I remain grateful for the investment that the community made in my education / formation that has made such contributions possible.”