On the same day Pope Francis led the funeral for his predecessor, St. Ambrose University on Thursday announced it will host a first-of-its-kind conference March 16-18 to celebrate the 10-year papacy of Pope Francis.

The three-day event, titled Francis at 10: A Papacy of Possibilities, will feature internationally renowned keynote speakers, opportunities for liturgy and breakout sessions and conclude with a closing Mass hosted by the Papal Nuncio to the United States, His Excellency Archbishop Christophe Pierre, Titular Archbishop of Gunela, according to an SAU release.

Pope Francis attends the funeral mass for Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI as pallbearers carry the coffin at the end of the funeral mass at St. Peter’s Square on Jan. 5, 2023 in Vatican City, Vatican. Joseph Aloisius Ratzinger was born in Marktl, Bavaria, Germany in 1927. He became Pope Benedict XVI, serving as head of the Catholic Church and the sovereign of the Vatican City State from 19 April 2005 until his resignation, due to ill health, on 28 February 2013. He succeeded Pope John Paul II and was succeeded by the current Pope Francis. He died on Dec. 31, 2022, aged 95 at the Mater Ecclesiae Monastery in Vatican City. (Photo by Antonio Masiello/Getty Images)

“It truly is an honor to bring this global celebration to our campus here in Davenport, Iowa,” said Paul Koch, PhD, Provost and Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs at SAU. “As an institution founded on the ideals of Catholicism, our vision for the evolution of higher education aligns well with Pope Francis’ commitment to balancing tradition and modernity.

“This will be a great opportunity for all of us, those who identify as Catholic and those who may not, to reflect on where we started and where we can go together in the future,” Koch said in the release.

Pope Francis, a leader from and for the margins (who turned 86 on Dec. 17), has captured the imagination of people across the globe.

Pope Francis attends the funeral mass for Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI at St. Peter’s Square on Jan. 5, 2023 in Vatican City, Vatican. (Photo by Antonio Masiello/Getty Images)

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI was laid to rest Thursday in Vatican City in the first funeral ever conducted by a sitting pope for his predecessor. Pope Francis, who has led the Catholic Church since his election in 2013, following Benedict’s surprise resignation, led the funeral Mass. 

The historic funeral capped a chapter of Catholic Church history marked notably by Benedict’s decision to step down — the first pontiff to do so in modern times, according to a CBS report. Benedict died last week at the age of 95. 

Attendees at the March St. Ambrose event will hear from experts from around the world as they examine Pope Francis, including his theology, his ministry, and the future directions he has set for the church and Christianity. Presentation topics will range from the environment, economics and justice, to a church on the margins, world religions, evangelization and inclusion.

Pope Francis, right, hugs Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI prior to the start of a meeting with elderly faithful in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican, Sunday, Sept. 28, 2014. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia, File)

The impressive keynote speaker lineup includes:

  • Joseph Cardinal Tobin: Archbishop of Newark: Besides his responsibilities in the Archdiocese of Newark, Cardinal Tobin has been appointed by Pope Francis to several councils and congregations, including the Synod of Bishops and the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.
  • Austen Ivereigh: Commentator and biographer of Pope Francis, Ivereigh published a book with Pope Francis in 2020 to highlight his vision for the post-COVID world. The book is titled Let Us Dream: The Path to a Better Future. In Conversation with Austen Ivereigh.
  • Phyllis Zagano: Catholic scholar, author, and lecturer on contemporary spirituality and women’s issues in the church. Zagano belonged to the 2016-2018 Papal Commission for the Study of the Diaconate of Women.
  • Anthony Annett: Professor at Fordham and author of Cathonomics: How Catholic Tradition Can Create a More Just Economy, Annett leads the Earth Institute’s initiative to strengthen the engagement of the world’s religious communities in climate change.
  • Kerry Robinson: Prize-winning author and the founding executive director and partner of the Leadership Roundtable, Robinson is a frequent writer and speaker on the subjects of philanthropy, development and faith.
  • Massimo Faggioli: Professor at Villanova and author whose books and articles have been published in more than ten languages, Faggioli is a frequent contributor to Commonweal and has written and presented on the topic of synodality.

A call for papers seeking additional breakout speakers and scholarly engagement with Pope Francis’ ministry, writings or theology has been issued. SAU will accept submissions through Jan. 15.

Pope Francis attends his weekly general audience in the Paul VI Hall at The Vatican, Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2022. (AP Photo/Domenico Stinellis)

Early bird registration is open now through Jan. 31 for scholars, students and community members who are interested in attending the spring 2023 papal celebration. Cost to attend the full conference is just $75 for those who sign up before the end of the month.

For more information, visit the event website HERE or contact papalconference@sau.edu.