Human beings attain truth by way of reason because, enlightened by faith, they discover the deeper meaning of all things and most especially of their own existence.” Saint Pope John Paul II, Fides et Ratio, No. 20

The Institute begins with the relationship between faith and scientific inquiry in particular and faith and reason in general.  This is a topic of importance for each day of the week, namely, the use of faith and reason to find truth in distinct forms of inquiry and truth to answer “Big Picture Questions.”

Faith and Science Speakers

Bill Mattison

 Dr. William C.  Mattison III, Phd

Dr. Mattison will be speaking to us about the intersection between faith and reason and faith and science in particular. Dr. Mattison was the co-founder and visionary of this very Light the World program while he served as Interim Dean at the School of Theology and Religious Studies at The Catholic University of America.

Dr. Mattison was born in Brooklyn, NY and grew up in Long Island. After earning degrees at Georgetown University and Weston Jesuit School of Theology – and spending two years as a Catholic elementary school teacher – he pursued doctoral studies at the University of Notre Dame. After obtaining his degree, he spent two years teaching at Notre Dame, and another two at Mount St. Mary’s University in Emmitsburg, MD before his appointment at the Catholic University of America’s School of Theology & Religious Studies.

Mattison researches and teaches in the area of fundamental moral theology, with a focus on virtue and the work of St. Thomas Aquinas. He is the author of two books: Introducing Moral Theology: True Happiness and the Virtues and  Virtue, Happiness, and the Sermon on the Mount.

Currently, Dr. Mattison and his family have returned to the University of Notre Dame to teach in the Department of Theology and as a contributing professor and advisor to the ACE (Alliance for Catholic Education) program.


Dr. Duilia F de Mello at the Einstein statue at the academy of science DSC_6078.NEF 2012_139 Taken - 4/15/12 - 9:33:48 PM photo by Ed Pfueller DSC_6078.NEF Dr. Duilia F de Mello at the Einstein statue at the academy of science DSC_6078.NEF 2012_139 Taken - 4/15/12 - 9:33:48 PM photo by Ed Pfueller DSC_6078.NEF

Dulia de Mello, Phd

Dr. de Mello is an Associate Professor of Astrophysics at The Catholic University of America. In addition she is a Research Associate at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center and Visiting Scientist at Johns Hopkins University.

She first became interested in the study of the universe as a little kid who couldn’t stop staring at the Moon during the summer months in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where she grew up.

Dr. De Mello earned a BS in Astronomy from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. She then continued pursuing her childhood dream to become a professional astronomer and earned two master’s degrees, one from the Brazilian National Institute for Space Research and another from the University of Alabama, and a PhD from the University of Sao Paulo. Dr. De Mello joined CUA as an Associate Professor in Physics in 2008 where she teaches Astronomy and Physics for non-science majors.

Before joining the faculty at CUA, she spent three years at the Onsala Space Observatory in Sweden as an Assistant Professor. Before going to Sweden she was a post-doc at Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore. She was also a post-doc at Cerro Tololo Interamerican Observatory in Chile and National Observatory in Rio, Brazil.

Most of Dr. De Mello’s research is at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center where she explores how galaxies formed and evolved to become today’s galaxies, like our own Milky Way.One of her latest discoveries, nicknamed ‘blue blobs’, are nursery of stars in the intergalactic medium. She has also discovered a supernova while observing in the mountains of Chile in 1997.

In her free time she flies around in small airplanes with her husband, taking aerial photographs, and fossil hunting on the beaches of Florida, Astronomy is also a hobby for Dr. De Mello; she spends many hours answering kids’ questions online about Astronomy, has a blog and recently published a book trying to inspire Brazilian teens to become scientists and to follow their dreams.

With Light the World!, Dr. De Mello draws students into cutting edge research in physics on the expansion of galaxies while on site at NASA Goddard Space Center. She uses the occasion to address the compatibility and even mutual reinforcement of faith and science in light of her expertise in evolution.


Our son could not stop talking about the NASA trip. He has always been extremely intellectually curious, he is at a time of seeking to learn how build his career, and he appreciates faith stores that inform and motivate; these activities satisfied all three of these things very well!-  Jill, Parent of 2016 Participant