Science and faith talks carry on late professor’s legacy

Stacy Trasancos speaks at Newman Catholic Student Center in Iowa City on Nov. 9.

By Lindsay Steele
The Catholic Messenger

IOWA CITY — A week after the passing of its cofounder, the Nicholas P. & Helen M. Rossi Center for Faith and Culture continued its tradition of bringing nationally known speakers to the Newman Catholic Student Center.

Dr. Rossi

Dr. Nicholas Rossi, a retired University of Iowa professor of cardiothoracic surgery, died Nov. 5 at the age of 97. Rossi and his wife, Helen, founded the Center for Faith and Culture in 2018.

Father Jeffry Belger, priest director of Newman Catholic Student Center, spoke about the late professor Nov. 9 as students and community members awaited a presentation from chemist and theologian Stacy Trasancos. “We ask for prayers for him and his family,” Father Belger said. “We thank you for the life of Dr. Rossi. He was a great scientist, doctor and father. He was a gifted and faithful man.”


In her presentation, Trasancos spoke about the connection between science and faith. She is a convert, wife and mother with advanced degrees in chemistry and dogmatic theology. Trasancos said she is passionate about evangelizing through science and hoped to ignite a similar passion with the audience.

Trasancos said she views science as “the study of God’s handiwork.” Referencing her book, “Science Was Born of Christianity: The Teaching of Father Stanley L Jaki,” and Scripture, she said the acknowledgment of a creator, God, was necessary for the advancement of science in the Middle Ages. While ancient civilizations made great scientific advancements, she believes these civilizations were limited by their assessment that the universe had neither a beginning nor an end. Modern scientific principles and equations rely on the idea that some force set the universe in motion. She believes modern science makes room for God and God is essential to it. “There is not a conflict between science and religion. It’s an intimate unity like a mother giving life to a child.”

Joshua Carrizales, a biomedical engineering PhD student at the University of Iowa, said he appreciated hearing Trasancos’ perspective on science and faith. “Science progressed a lot because of the human desire to know who God is. Since God created the heavens and the earth, Catholic scientists studied the heavens and the earth to learn more about how God operates. If you want to learn about someone you’ve never met, you have to study their works.”

Father Ed Fitzpatrick, retired Newman Center priest director, said such presentations help Dr. Rossi’s legacy to live on. “Throughout his medical career and faith (journey) he was always mentoring people and so he wanted to mentor future generations. … Even though he died, he’s still mentoring people and will mentor Catholic young people in the future because of his vision of the importance of science, faith and culture.”

The presentation is available at Newman Center’s YouTube page, through Dec. 16.

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