SAU to celebrate Pope Francis’ papacy


By Anne Marie Amacher
The Catholic Messenger

DAVENPORT — A three-day event in honor of the 10-year anniversary of Pope Francis’ papacy brings well-known speakers to the St. Ambrose University campus March 16-18.

“Francis at 10: A Papacy of Possibilities” will feature internationally known keynote speakers, liturgy opportunities, breakout sessions and a closing Mass with Archbishop Christophe Pierre, the papal nuncio to the United States.

“It truly is an honor to bring this global celebration to our campus here in Davenport,” said Paul Koch, provost and vice president for academic and student affairs at SAU. “As an institution founded on the ideals of Catholicism, our vision for the evolution of higher education aligns well with Pope Francis’ commitment to balancing tradition and modernity. This will be a great opportunity for all of us, those who identify as Catholic and those who may not, to reflect on where we started and where we can go together in the future.”


Attendees will hear from experts from around the world as they examine Pope Francis’ theology, ministry and future directions set for the Church and Christianity. Presentation topics range from the environment, economics and justice, to a Church on the margins, world religions, evangelization and inclusion.

Koch said the brainchild of the event was SAU board member Tom Higgins. “He is passionate about sharing the mission of our university.” This event is a way to celebrate Catholicism, the university and the good works of Pope Francis. Koch said the event is not just an academic event but also a celebration. “It has been a team effort of our committee to bring these ‘A-list’ speakers.”

Koch said committee members and theology faculty members at St. Ambrose were asked to compile a list of speakers for the event. SAU President Amy Novak and Bishop Thomas Zinkula, who chairs the Board of Trustees, helped with the decisions. Keynote speakers include:
• Cardinal Joseph Tobin, Archbishop of Newark. He serves on councils and congregations, including the Synod of Bishops and the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.

• Austen Ivereigh, a commentator and biographer of Pope Francis. Among his books are “Let Us Dream: The Path to a Better Future. In Conversation with Austen Ivereigh,” which highlights the pope’s vision for the post-COVID world.

• Phyllis Zagano, Catholic scholar, author and lecturer on contemporary spirituality and women’s issues in the Church. She served from 2016-2018 on the Papal Commission for the Study of the Diaconate of Women.

• Anthony Annett, professor at Fordham University and author of “Cathonomics: How Catholic Tradition Can Create a More Just Economy.” He leads the Earth Institute’s initiative to strengthen the engagement of the world’s religious communities in climate change.

• Kerry Robinson, prize-winning author and the founding executive director and partner of the Leadership Roundtable. She is a frequent writer and speaker on the subjects of philanthropy, development and faith.

• Massimo Faggioli, professor at Villanova University and author. He is a frequent contributor to Commonweal and has written and presented on the topic of synodality.

“This is an exciting opportunity to work with these speakers,” Koch said. He encourages people to share the excitement. The three-day event is for everyone, not just academics.

Early-bird registration is open through Jan. 31 for scholars, students and community members. Cost is $75 and includes breakfast and lunch Friday and Saturday and a banquet Thursday night. For more information visit or contact

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