MANITOWOC, Wis. — For Sister Marie Kolbe Zamora — assistant professor and chair of the Department of Theology and Ministry at Silver Lake College — a recent trip to Rome has brought an additional layer of depth to her teaching.
In November 2017, Sister Zamora attended a three-day international congress titled, “Deus Summe Cognoscibilis (God the Most Knowable of All Reality): The Relevance of St. Bonaventure’s Theology,” sponsored by the Pontifical Gregorian University in collaboration with the Pontifical University Antonianum and the Pontifical University of St. Bonaventure.
The occasion marked the 800th anniversary of Giovanni Fidanza who, as a friar, became renowned as Bonaventure of Bagnoregio. This is an important anniversary celebrated around the world by Franciscans committed to the Franciscan intellectual tradition.
“Conference organizers brought together esteemed Bonaventurian scholars from Europe and the United States who demonstrated the relevance of Bonaventure's theology for today,” Sister Zamora said. “This was the first time I was able to be taught ‘live’ by Bonaventure experts. Hearing how they so easily wove Bonaventure's thought into the development of their ideas has strengthened my ability to do this in the classroom and, thus, pass on the Franciscan intellectual tradition.”
One speaker’s presentation in particular, on Bonaventure’s understanding of the sacraments, is having a transformative impact on how she is delivering the content in the Sacraments course she is teaching right now, she said.
“Another speaker highlighted how Bonaventure speaks of the environment as ‘taking us by the hand’ and leading us back to God,” Sister Zamora said. “This has inspired me to commit myself even more to ‘taking my students by the hand,’ leading them to new horizons in their thought and to success in the classroom. If sunrises and sunsets and mountains can take us by the hand to lead us back to God, how much more should fellow human beings be able to take our brothers/sisters by the hand to lead them back to God?”
During the congress, Sister Zamora moderated one of the scheduled sessions, “Trinitarian Institution of the Sacraments.” 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.
Another recent gathering inspired her teaching, said Sister Zamora, who is a member of the Commission for the Franciscan Intellectual Tradition (CFIT) Board. She attended the annual CFIT Board meeting in Denver in January.
“In conversation with one of the scholars at that meeting, I was inspired to use Pope Francis’ ‘Laudato si’ as one of the foundational texts for the senior-level Theology course that I am teaching this semester titled, Social Conscience and the New Evangelization,” she said. “In his book, Pope Francis has presented the entirety of the Catholic Church’s social teaching in the key of respect for the environment. Using the document for this course has transformed the course into a profoundly relevant conversation and seems to be transforming the students and myself.”
PHOTO: Sister Marie Kolbe Zamora of Silver Lake College stands in the Pontifical University Antonianum church during the recent international Bonaventurian congress in Rome. Submitted