Panel Discussion Explores the Synergies Between Science and Faith, and Notre Dame’s Unique Position to Lead Global Change

September 27, 2023— Neil Boothby, the founding director of the Global Center for the Development of the Whole Child, and Fr. Lou DelFra, CSC, the director of pastoral life for the Alliance of Catholic Education (ACE), recently hosted a panel discussion alongside Dr. Carrie Quinn, the executive director of the Mount Sinai Parenting Center, titled “Raising Resilient Children: How can science and the global Catholic Church converge to create pathways out of poverty for children?”

All three speakers serve children and their families in different vocational capacities, but their work is aligned by the science of early childhood development and how it complements  Catholic social teaching. DelFra outlined how Catholic social teaching and child development science are compatible, connecting back to “Invest in our Youth,” the recently published book co-written by Boothby and DelFra. Additionally, Boothby and Quinn spoke about the importance of the first 1,000 days in a child’s life and the critical role that parents and caregivers play in building healthy brains. 

The Global Center is working with the global Catholic Church to activate parish networks and meet children’s holistic needs at all three levels of their social ecology: the home, school, and church. By activating the child’s most central networks, engaging key stakeholders, and leveraging culturally-relevant and engaging programming, the Global Center promotes a whole child approach to development. Quinn emphasized the need to invest in early years if work is to have a big impact, and the need to use existing systems to do so. In many global communities, the Catholic Church is that system best positioned to have an impact. Regardless of country or resource availability, a systems approach to early childhood development can help to ensure that all parents and children get the resources they need to reach their full potential, and Notre Dame is uniquely positioned to lead these efforts globally, Quinn said.