Catholic Vancouver Nov. 6, 2017

Church and science bond in pair of events

By Agnieszka Ruck

Brother Guy Consolmagno, director of the Vatican Observatory, will speaking in Vancouver Nov. 22, days after the second annual Gold Mass for scientists on Nov. 17. (Nancy Wiechec / CNS)

VANCOUVER—Chemist and researcher Suzana Kovacic is hoping Catholic scientists will bond over a pair of events coming up in Vancouver.

“I found in my experience among Catholics who are scientists, as they become more involved in their work, they drift away from their faith,” said Kovacic, who works in the chemistry department at Simon Fraser University.

So, hoping to reach out to fellow scientists, she and SFU chaplain Father Fernando Mignone hosted Vancouver’s first-ever Gold Mass for scientists last year.

She said the tiny chapel on the university campus seemed a little more full than usual, and as Father Mignone gave a short reflection on the importance of their profession, she realized she needed to continue reaching out to Catholic scientists.

“This is an opportunity to bring them back to the faith,” said Kovacic. She is helping organize a second annual Gold Mass Nov. 17, this time at St. Mark’s on campus at UBC.

Kovacic hopes the event will lead to building a strong network of Catholic scientists in the Lower Mainland. The U.S.-based Society of Catholic Scientists actually has 16 Canadian members, three of whom live in B.C.

“I want to build that network so we can start reaching people who are more on the fringes.”

For scientists who are not Catholic or not ready to go to Mass, there’s another event for them: Vatican Observatory director Brother Guy Consolmagno will be speaking at UBC Nov. 22. His free talk is titled “Why do we look up at the heavens?”

Kovacic is at work sending out fliers and emails, urging fellow researchers, professors, and students to join. For her, this is a mission of evangelism and of building community.

“Where I work, I didn’t know a single Catholic around me,” she said. “This year, I’m slowly starting to discover there are Catholic scientists on campus!”

The Gold Mass will be held two days after the feast day of St. Albert the Great, the patron saint of scientists, at 5:30 p.m. at St. Mark’s Parish. The Archdiocese of Vancouver also hosts annual White Masses (for medical professionals) and Red Masses (for lawyers).

Brother Consolmagno’s free presentation will begin at 7 p.m. at the Hebb Theatre at 2045 East Mall at UBC.