Loftus speaker keys in on pope’s peripheral theology


The Rev. Timothy Kesicki, SJ, is returning to Erie as this year’s Loftus thelogy lecture speaker.

The 2015 Loftus Theology Lecture will be presented by the Rev. Timothy Kesicki, SJ, at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the Yehl Ballroom. Kesicki, an Erie native, is the president of the Jesuit Conference.

He was appointed to the position by the Rev. General Adolfo Nicolás, SJ, in 2014. The Jesuit Conference works to oversee international projects for the Society of Jesus in U.S. and Canada.

Kesicki’s responsibilities include working with the Jesuit Provincials of the United States and Canada to supervise national programs, represent the Conference and serve as the religious leader of national Jesuit ministries.

Kesicki’s lecture will focus on the pope’s peripheral view of theology, which his brother, the Rev. Michael Kesicki, defines as theology seen outside the margins of society’s view.

“It’s moving away from the center and looking at the [majority] of those who may not be included in the human community,” Kesicki said.  He added that Pope Francis has a commitment to seeing outside of this periphery.

“The Loftus Lecture is related to significant aspects of Catholic life to establish Gannon as a Catholic university,” Kesicki said.  “By highlighting the university’s Catholic mission, it gives witness to a faith and hope.

Kesicki said the lecture brings in live voices of the church’s mission by direct contact with a scholar or missionary in the church’s outreach of service.

“It makes this real,” he said.  “Students can see, listen and interact with someone whose life is based on this work.”

Ben Knopf, a senior philosophy major, said he is planning to attend Timothy Kesicki’s lecture.

“Father Tim Kesicki is an amazingly articulate speaker,” Knopf said.  “He should have great insights into how the pope thinks.”

Timothy Kesicki said he was humbled by being asked to give the Loftus lecture.

“I’m very excited to come back to Erie,” Kesicki said.  “I hope to shed a little light on this great person who is Pope Francis.  I’ve been a Jesuit for 30 years, so I hope to share a perspective on his history and share stories of people who have known him, and what I think he would be asking of students and faculty.

“He has a tremendous view of the world, and people often ask what he’s going to do next, but part of that is how we should help the poor or the stranger.

“We have to help implement his vision as [something] we want.”

Kesicki said the theme of his lecture takes the concept of the periphery, which comes up a great deal in Pope Francis’ writings, and takes a closer look at why Francis focuses on those on the outside. He added that Francis’ popularity can hinder our need to think about the deeper meaning behind his teachings.

“He’s very compassionate and he’s always beyond the center,” Kesicki said.  “If you take Washington D.C. as an analogy, the people in Washington can’t just worry about Washington.  They have to be concerned about the whole country.

“There are far more poor people than rich people in this world who don’t feel like they’re part of the decisions being made.

“Francis says God is calling us to serve those at the periphery, not just getting close to the center.”

Michael Kesicki said he was closely involved with inviting Timothy Kesicki to speak at Gannon.

“We’re brothers in so many ways,” Michael Kesicki said. “We’re brothers in life and brothers in the priesthood.”



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