September marks the start of Tuesdays at Cathedral, an annual adult faith formation series at St. Mary's Cathedral, NW 17th and Davis in Portland. The series brings Catholic thinkers to explore and explain scripture, church teaching, religious history and Catholic literature.

If it's 7 p.m. on a Tuesday, the Archdiocese of Portland's central church is the place to be.

Below is a look at the offerings, which run through the spring and are held in the cathedral's lower center unless specified. For more information, go to or call 503-228-4397.   

On Sept. 4, Dominican Sister Carol Dempsey begins a three-part series on the writings attributed to the prophet Isaiah, whom she calls "friend and poet of God." Sister Carol, a professor of biblical studies at the University of Portland, says the book of Isaiah is "one of the richest and most complex books of all prophetic literature in the Bible." It can speak to our times, she explains. The first session will focus on the book, the poet and the address to the nations. The second session, Oct. 2, examines the book's ideas about covenant, worship and right relationship. On Nov. 13, the third session reflects on the servant songs messianic vision of Isaiah.

On Sept. 11, psychologist Father Ray Carey examines "the grace and legacy" of the Second Vatican Council. This year marks 50 years since the opening of Vatican II in Rome. The council, Father Carey says, prompted a "profound" revolution and and renewal in the church. This session will be held in the cathedral church.
The council's 1965 document on non-Christian religions is the topic Sept. 18 as Holy Cross Father Charles Gordon of the University of Portland leads the discussion. In Nostra Aetate, the church considered what brings all kinds of believers into relationship.

On Oct. 9, a DVD by Jesuit Father John O'Malley sets out the history of the church's councils, with an emphasis on Vatican II. Father O'Malley sits on the faculty at Georgetown University.

The Vatican II discussion continues Oct. 16 as Elaine Park, a University of Portland theologian, offers a presentation on Dei Verbum, the council's reflection on the power and importance of scripture. Pope Benedict's recent encyclical Verbum Domini further examines the role of scripture in the world today. Participants are asked to bring their Bibles.

André Gide's novel Straight is the Gate is the topic Oct. 23. Father Gordon discusses the book, based on an experience of death at age 14. Gide composed a tragedy of young love ruined by religious austerity.

For Nov. 20, Deacon Thomas Gornick sheds light on Vatican II's 1965 document on Christian service and evangelization, Apostolicam Actuositatem. The council called Christians to participate in the mission of Jesus and embrace the Christian life in every part of society — family, business, charity, education and health care. Gornick is director of evangelization for the Archdiocese of Portland.

Father Gordon returns Nov. 27 for a conversation on Walter Miller's A Canticle for Leibowitz. The post-apocalyptic science fiction novel was inspired by Miller's participation in the bombing of the historic monastery at Monte Casino during World War II. Miller set his book at a Catholic monastery in the Southwest after a nuclear war.

After a Christmas break, the series holds the annual presentation with a Catholic pastor, an Episcopalian dean and a rabbi. Though it sounds like the set up for a joke, (and the men's senses of humor do tend to emerge) the Feb. 5 session plumbs the depths of faith, finding common ground and fruitful contrast. Convening at Temple Beth Israel in Northwest Portland, Father Patrick Brennan of St. Mary Cathedral, the Rev. William Lupfer of Trinity Episcopal Cathedral and Rabbi Michael Cahana will speak on a topic of faith.

On Feb. 12 back at the Cathedral lower center, Mount Angel Seminary's dean, Deacon Owen Cummings, discusses how the community "becomes Eucharist." Jesus, the unique revelation of the God who is love, gives himself to us in the Eucharist so we might be Eucharist for others, Cummings says.

Mink River, the Oregon novel by Brian Doyle, is the topic Feb. 19 when Father Gordon leads a discussion. The book, set in a Northwest town, displays jumbled lives and linked stories. The second part of the book will be discussed March 19.   

On March 5, Holy Cross Father Jeff Cooper of the University of Portland offers possibilities for healing divisions in society. The vision comes from the late medieval mystic Meister Eckhart, whose spirituality, the priest says, may be able to spark meaningful dialogue and creative solutions.

Early iconography comes to the fore March 12 when Father Jon Buffington explains the development of the icon "from the hands of Christ to the hands of the Eastern Church." Father Buffington, a chaplain at Portland Providence Medical Center, says icons are becoming more familiar in the west.

Pope Paul VI is the topic April 2 as Father John Tuohey speaks on the man he calls "the implementation pope." It was Paul VI who continued Vatican II after the death of John XXIII and began the difficult task of putting the council's teachings into action. Father Tuohey is the ethicist for Providence Health and Services.

Liturgy and worship since Vatican II is the subject April 9, when Holy Names Sister Miriam Malone explores what the council called for: "full, conscious and active participation" in the liturgy's prayers, songs and gestures. Sister Miriam has titled her talk "Bringing Liturgy to Life and Life to Liturgy."

The Albert Camus book Summer is Father Gordon's topic April 16. In eight lyrical essays written between 1936 and 1950, the French thinker develops the idea that in the depths of winter, "invincible" summer lies within each of us.

Park returns from the University of Portland to wrap up the series April 23. She says one of Vatican II's insights was on the place and importance of Mary in the church. Lumen Gentium, the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, has a section on Mary's centrality. Some bishops at the time hoped to have a separate document on Mary.