Pope Francis at 10

St Ambrose’s University at Davenport, Iowa, USA hosted a major conference in March to mark the 10th anniversary of Pope Francis’ pontificate.

Architect and major sponsor of the event was former US YCS leader, Tom Higgins, later a state congressman and a member of the Carter administration.

Perhaps also significant in the orientation of both the Diocese of Davenport and St Ambrose’s University is a lively Cardijn tradition exemplified by the late Monsignor Marvin Mottet, a key figure at the university as well as with the Catholic Campaign for Human Development.

Keynote speakers included theologians Massimo Faggioli and Phyllis Zagano, Pope Francis’ biographer, Austen Ivereigh, Catholic social teaching specialist, tony Annett, as well as Cardinal Joseph Tobin.

Also present was Holy See Nuncio, Archbishop Christophe Pierre, who delivered a message from Pope Francis. As Archbishop Pierre told me, his mother was one of the key leaders who worked with Marie-Louise Monnet in the foundation of the JIC (Jeunesse Indépendante Catholique), a Specialised Catholic Action movement for young people from a bourgeois background.

The conference also hosted a panel proposed by ACI on the theme “Promoting Integral Human Development; From Cardijn to Pope Francis.”

Our panel featured:

Ana Grande, who spoke about her uncle, Blessed Rutilio Grande, the Salvadoran Jesuit and see-judge-act practitioner, whose martyrdom inspired Archbishop Oscar Romero.

Elias Crim, founder of Solidarity Hall, an initiative to promote the implementation of Catholic Social teaching, who spoke on Fr Josemaria Arizmendi and the Mondragon cooperatives.

Finally, I traced the links between Cardijn’s vision and methods and those of Pope Francis.

Overall, the conference was an inspirational event and a credit to its organisers.

Stefan Gigacz

Ana Grande with Stefan Gigacz


Marvin Mottet (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)

Francis at 10: A papacy of possibilities (St Ambrose University)

Pope Francis conference inspires ‘stellar’ gathering at St. Ambrose University (Catholic Messenger)