About The Conference

Pope Francis’ election in 2013 marked a new stage of post-conciliar reflection on the nature of the church and its mediation of God’s love for the world. Informed by his programmatic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel), Francis has set in motion a reform that challenges Catholics to rethink what it means to be the Church in the 21st century. The broad contours of this renewal are significant, and they require theological analysis and assessment.

Hosted by St. Mark’s College and the Center for Christian Engagement, Pope Francis and the Future of the Church responds to this call for reflection on a wide range of themes central to Francis’ pontificate and his vision of the church, including the legacy of Vatican II; synodality; accompaniment; reconciliation with Indigenous peoples in Canada and the US; integral ecology; and justice and concern for the poor and marginalized. This spring’s conference will include over 40 paper presentations given by scholars and practitioners – lay, cleric, and religious – from across North America. It is the first conference dedicated to exploring Francis’ pontificate in a Canadian context.  

The conference is being held and hosted at St. Mark’s College at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada from May 4 through May 6, 2023. 

See Schedule


Please consider supporting the Pope Francis Conference by designating your gift to the “Laudato Si’ Endowment” using the link below: 





Meet Our Keynote Speakers
Villanova University
Laudato Si' in a Time of Global Disruption.
Francis and Politics
Visiting Professor, Loyola University, Chicago
The Reform of the Church is Not a Change but a Commitment
Saint Paul University
Leaning into the Distant Goal of Vatican II:
Pope Francis and Christian Unity
Presentations and Interactive Discussion at St. Mark's College

Chanelle Robinson

Boston College 
“Intergenerational Solidarity is Not Optional”: Ecowomanism After Laudato Si’

Carolyn Chau

King’s University College at Western University
Pope Francis and Ecclesial Renewal: A Conversion Program for an Authentic Church

Marissa Nichols

Catholic Distance University
Reparations: Its Theological Basis, Rooted in the Catholic Tradition, Exemplified by Pope Francis

Geoffrey Woollard

University of British Columbia
 Taking Francis’ Lead: Catholic Theology’s Unique Opportunity to Facilitate Dialogue between the Natural Sciences and Ancient Wisdom Traditions?

Matt Eaton

King’s College
Ecological Ethics Beyond Sustainability: Can Pope Francis’ Food Ethic Move from Sustainability to Compassion?

Andrew TJ Kaethler

Catholic Pacific College
Ressourcement as Aggiornamento: Luigi Giussani on Tradition and the Risk of Education

Christopher Cimorelli

National Institute for Newman Studies, Duquesne
Pope Francis and the Development of the Church’s ‘Theological Imaginary’: The Principle of Authority

Lucila Crena

Wesley School of Theology
Encountering Teología del Pueblo: A historical perspective on encounter-centered renewal

Paul L. Allen

St. Mark’s College
The Two ‘Green Popes’: Integral Ecology and Christian Metaphysics

Sister Ngoc Nguyen, LHC

Marquette University
Interreligious Considerations for the Role of Women in the Church in Vietnam and Nepal

 Deogratias K. Fikiri, SJ

Marquette University
Theology of Pope Francis: Four theological concepts for future generations

Gerard Ryan, SJ

Regis College
Accompaniment as Mutual Recognition: Advancing the Pastoral Dynamism of Synodality

Zane Chu

St. Mark’s College
Expanding Social Friendship: Pope Francis and Thomas Aquinas

Sister Damien Marie Savino, FSE

Aquinas College
The Franciscan Roots of Integral Ecology: Ecological Conversion and the Culture of Encounter

Samuel D. Rocha

University of British Columbia
Realities, Ideas, and Magical Realism 

Jay Irwin

University of Nottingham
The Personalism of Pope Francis in the Opioid Crisis: Resuscitating the Spiritual in Harm Reduction

Sister Cynthia Emeka

Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA)
Pastoral Accompaniment: A Way of Walking Together Toward Ecclesial Synodality

Justin Conway

Boston College
Expanding Substantialism in Catholic Thought

Darren Dias, OP

Toronto School of Theology
University of St Michael’s College, University of Toronto

Pope Francis and Indigenous Peoples: Beyond the Papal Visit

James Magee

Vancouver School of Theology
Good Samaritans: Moving-Picture Clerics and the Inclusive Vision of Pope Francis in Fratelli Tutti

Ramon Luzarraga

Saint Martin’s University
Pope Francis and the Death Penalty, an Encuentro Between Latin American Catholic Moral Realism and a U.S. Catholic Illusion

Doris M. Kieser

St. Joseph’s College, University of Alberta
Pope Francis, Mary, and Women in the Church

David Henderson

Catholic Pacific College
Divine Accompaniment and the Journey of Faith: Pastoral Reflections of Francis, John Paul II, and the Second Vatican Council

Katie Ward

Boston College School of Theology and Ministry
 Education for Truth and Healing: Culturally Sustaining/Revitalizing Pedagogy in Native American Catholic Schools

Martin Madar

Xavier University
How Pope Francis Has Rehabilitated the “Spirit of Vatican II”

Joachim Ostermann, OFM

Franciscans of Canada
Faith and Science to bring Anthropology into Ecology

Hansol Goo

University of Notre Dame
Sacramental Dimension in Pope Francis' Vision for Migration

Steven P. Millies

Catholic Theological Union
“Full Citizenship”: The Synodal Political Vision of Pope Francis

Germain McKenzie

St. Mark’s College
Pope Francis and the Inculturation of the Church: Novelties, Continuities and Challenges

John Martens

St. Mark’s College
Pope Francis, the Bible, and Mercy

Keith E. Lemna

Saint Meinrad Seminary and School of Theology
Pope Francis’s Polarity and Teilhard’s Analogy of Duration

Nick Meisl

St. Mark’s College
Pharisees and Jonah Syndrome: Pope Francis, Biblical Interpretation, and Jewish-Catholic Dialogue

Jean-Pierre Fortin

University of St. Michael’s College
Indigenous Witness, Christian Confession:Decolonization as Integral Component of Pope Francis’ Theology of Mercy

Mark Neuhengen

Catholic Theological Union
St. Teresa’s Parish, Chicago

This Synodal Way in Germany Needs to be Stopped: Understanding American Opposition to Pope Francis Through Criticisms of the German Synodal Path

Andrew Buechel-Rieger

 Mount Saint Joseph University
Out at Mass: Pope Francis, Liturgical Formation, and LGBTQ People

Warren Schmidt, CSB

St. Joseph’s College at University of Alberta
 Pope Francis and an Appreciation of Baptismal Charisms in the Context of Post-Vatican II Ecclesiology of Ministry

Mark Yenson

King’s University College at Western University
Pope Francis: Reflections from and for Christology

Joseph Evans

Villanova University
Interreligious Considerations for the Role of Women in the Church in Vietnam and Nepal

Emmanuel Diaz

Aquinas Institute of Theology
An Interpretation of Social Justice through Laudato Si’s Foundation in Theology of the People

Carla M. Thomas

University of St. Michael’s College
Pope Francis’ Pastoral Magisterium and the World Church: Renewing Ecclesial Approaches to the Family in a Postcolonial Caribbean

Christopher E. De Bono

Unity Health Toronto
Why Pope Francis’ Metaphor for the Church as a “Field Hospital” Advances Renewal in Catholic Healthcare and Social Services.

Paul Niskanen

University of St. Thomas
Human Ecology: Pope Francis’s Contributions to the Theology of Christian Marriage

Elliot Rossiter

Douglas College
Distributive Justice, Kenosis, and Reparation to Indigenous Peoples

Colman Okechukwu Nwokoro

Marquette University
Migrants and Refugees: A Great Resource for Social and Economic Growth in light of Pope Francis’s Teaching

Monica Marcelli-Chu

St. Mark’s College
Prayer, Priesthood of the Faithful, and the Moral Life in Pope Francis In Gaudete et Exsultate


May 4, 2023


Registration Opens

3 – 5 PM


7 PM

Opening Remarks

  • Archbishop J. Michael Miller, CSB Archdiocese of Vancouver
  • Dr. Gerry Turcotte, Principal, St. Mark’s College, President, Corpus Christ College

Plenary Session #1

7:30 – 9 PM

Laudato Si’ in a Time of Global Disruption. Francis and Politics

Massimo Faggioli, Villanova University 

Wine & Cheese Reception to follow



May 5, 2023


Registration Table Open

8:30 – 9 AM

Coffee and Continental Breakfast


Concurrent Sessions #1

9 – 10:30 AM


Coffee Break

10:30 – 11 AM


Concurrent Sessions #2

11 AM – 12:30 PM



12:30 – 1:30 PM


Concurrent Sessions #3

1:30 – 3 PM


Coffee Break

3 – 3:30 PM


Plenary Session #2

3:30 – 5:00 PM

The Reform of the Church is not a Change but a Commitment

Emilce Cuda, Secretary, Pontifical Commission for Latin America/Loyola University Chicago

Evening Prayer

5:30 – 6 PM

Location: St. Mark’s Chapel


Private Reception & Dinner for Supporters and Conference Presenters

6:30 – 9 PM


  • Dr. Gerry Turcotte, Principal, St. Mark’s College, President, Corpus Christ College
  • Dr. John Martens, Director, The Centre for Christian Engagement, St. Mark’s College,

Private Dinner Address

  • Dr. Michael W. Higgins, Basilian Distinguished Fellow of Contemporary Catholic Thought at St. Michael’s College.  “John XXIII Redux:  Francis as the Pope of Continuity and Disruption”



May 6, 2023


Coffee and Continental Breakfast

8:30 -9 AM


Concurrent Sessions #4

9 -10:30 AM


Coffee Break

10:30 – 10:45 AM


Concurrent Sessions #5

10:45 AM – 12:15 PM





Plenary Session #3

12:45 – 2 PM

Leaning into the Distant Goal of Vatican II: Pope Francis and Christian Unity

Catherine Clifford, St. Paul University


Closing Remarks

2 PM

Special Post-Conference Concert 

6 – 7:30 PM

Sam Rocha Trio

Location: St. Mark’s College Chapel



  • Keynote Sessions: Free

  • Full Conference: $40

  • Each Day: $20

This event is sponsored by the Laudato Si’ Endowment Fund.


Presentations and Interactive Discussion
at St. Mark's College


Costs, Accommodations, Amenities, Transportation, Volunteer and Sponsorship, Parking, and More


The Centre for Christian Engagement finds its mission in the creation of a “culture of encounter,” for the Church to become “a place of mercy freely given, where everyone can feel welcome, loved, forgiven and encouraged to live the good life of the Gospel.”

Our Vision emphasizes the importance of listening, reflecting, learning, discussing, and praying, St. Mark’s Centre for Christian Engagement seeks to enable dialogue by creating opportunities to address the challenges associated with the disengagement of Christians from the Church and the life of faith, including:

  •  Nurturing the dialogue between Christians in the life of the Spirit and the Academy with that of wider society
  •  Meeting individuals in their concrete life situations and accompanying them on their respective faith journeys
  •  Providing forums (public lectures, retreats, panel discussions, debates, summit meetings, etc.) to address the issues and challenges associated with Christian disengagement
  •  Highlighting and encouraging the prophetic voices of the age as they proclaim the Gospel as the ultimate message of Christian engagement
  •  Highlighting the unique and important experiences of those who have been on the margins of both the Church and the world, including  people with disabilities, women, Indigenous peoples, those living in poverty, and migrants and refugees


None of the conference sessions will be recorded or live-streamed.  

However, the keynote speakers (plenary sessions) will be posted to the St. Mark’s College YouTube page after the conference.



Yes. All the event spaces are accessible, including washrooms.


Please contact the UBC Welcome Centre: HERE



There is no cost for attending the keynote (plenary) addresses, but registration is necessary.

Registration is open for the general public for the whole conference ($40.00) or for daily attendance ($20.00) featuring our 45 speakers.

If you would like to register a group for the conference please email the organizing team:[email protected].



Accommodations are not included in registration costs for presenters or attendees. Conference presenters can access our special accommodation rate ($155.00 CAD per night) at Gage Signature Studios:



Accommodation on the UBC campus is also available for non-presenters at:

Carey Theological College | Across the street from St. Mark’s College (cheaper rates)



Suites on the UBC Campus (more expensive rates)

Suites at UBC


There are numerous hotels available in Vancouver, but it would be necessary to travel to campus from these hotels by bus, taxi, or Uber.


Restaurants + Eateries:

There are numerous restaurants, cafes, and lounges on the UBC campus, please check them out at this helpful link below or via Google Maps and Yelp App.





Once you land at Vancouver Airport (YVR), you will need to travel to the UBC campus, which is located in Point Grey, the westernmost point in Vancouver. You can travel to campus easily by taxi or by Uber. There are also public transit options from the airport.

For specific information, please see:


Three basic routes are available.

  • Travel by the SkyTrain (light rail) to Vancouver and get off at the Langara-49th St. station, taking the 49 bus to campus.
  • Travel by the SkyTrain (light rail) to Oakridge-41st St. station and then travel by the R4 bus to campus.
  • Travel by the SkyTrain (light rail)  to the downtown Vancouver Olympic Village Station and then take the 84 bus to the UBC campus. When you arrive at the UBC Bus Exchange you are a 2-minute walk from the conference accommodations.


The conference will be held at St. Mark’s College at UBC, located at 5935 Iona Drive, Vancouver. For those who wish to drive to the College, please note that there is no public parking at the College. There are various options for paid parking at UBC, as well as at Carey Theological College.



A large conference such as Pope Francis and the Future of the Church requires the assistances of many people.

If you are interested in helping to support the conference financially, please contact us at [email protected]. We would be happy to discuss with you the range of sponsorship options available. If you would like to support the conference as a volunteer please let us know about your interest at [email protected]. We would be happy to find you a role at the conference and would be pleased to offer you admission to all conference sessions free of charge. 


John Martens, Lynda Robitaille, Nick Olkovich, Paul Allen, Nick Meisl, Grace Green.

Event Planner: Justine Fafard

Marketing & Communications at St. Mark’s- Corpus Christi College


This conference is made possible by the generosity of these donors and sponsors.

Platinum Sponsor 

The Cullen Family

Gold Sponsor

Peter Bull, Angus Reid, and Andy Szocs for Centre for Christian Engagement

Silver Sponsors

Marie Anne Blondin Chair in Catholic Theology

Archdiocese of Vancouver



America Media

The opening keynote presentation is the
Inaugural Laudato Si’ Endowment Lecture.

This endowment has been established through generous sponsorship and giving of
Dr. Felix Durity, Dr. Michael Higgins, Rabbi Yosef Wosk, and City in Focus

Please consider supporting the Pope Francis Conference by designating your gift to the “Laudato Si’ Endowment” using the link below: 



By submitting this form, you are consenting to receive marketing emails from: . You can revoke your consent to receive emails at any time by using the SafeUnsubscribe® link, found at the bottom of every email. Emails are serviced by Constant Contact


St. Mark’s-Corpus Christi College and other locations

on the beautiful campus of the

University of British Columbia