Last Thursday, October 5th, was the 2017 Clare Center Lecture. The lecture is hosted annually with a different topic and speaker. This year the Clare Center was able to get Sister Ilia Delio to come to campus. Sr. Delio is a Franciscan sister and is based in Washington D.C.. She is also currently holds the Josephine C. Connelly Endowed Chair in Theology at Villanova University.
Ilia’s lecture was entitled, “Being at Home in the Universe: Lessons from Saint Francis.” She began her presentation with some introduction on global warming and the major problem this is and has been for some time. While Ilia was giving us an overview of some of the things that are happening that are destroying our planet she explained “this is not news.” She knows that we know that these problems have been present for some time now and while some things are being done to reverse the damage, a lot of people are simply ignoring the problems.
Ilia believes that climate change is a “religious problem.” By this she means that we must think of the earth as a sacred space just as we would consider a church to be a sacred space. She stated during her lecture that, “we must rethink and refeel our nature and our destiny in order to remedy the problems.” She suggested thinking about life as an encyclopedia. In this context, human beings belong in volume 30 in the encyclopedia of life, but not only are we in volume 30, but we are also on the last page and in the last sentence of that volume. By explaining human beings’ place in life, she was trying to show how little we matter in the large scheme of things.
Towards the end of her lecture she brought St. Francis into the mix. She explained how we still have time to change our mindsets just as St. Francis did with the leper. As most of us know, St. Francis despised the leper but once he came to know himself as a creature of God, he was able to embrace the leper and love again. In this context, Sr. Illia believes we as people can also change our mindsets and begin to love our earth again and save it from our destruction of it.
Ilia ended her lecture on this note: “We are part of something larger than ourselves.” This was very inspiring and left me and the audience with some words of wisdom to take with us.
What I love about the department we have at Siena is that they always are inclusive of all beliefs and ideas. Even if you’re not a religious person, I highly recommend you attend another lecture put on by the Religious Studies department.