St. Dominic Catholic Church

2002 Merton Ave | Los Angeles, CA 90041 | (323) 254-2519


Dr. Joseph Zepeda, Ph. D.


Galileo and the Church: Myths and Lessons

Few historical episodes are as persistently controversial as Galileo's run-in with the Church over Copernicanism. Was Galileo a martyr for freedom of thought, oppressed by an authoritarian and anti-intellectual power? Or was he an overconfident and dishonest troublemaker who ventured gratuitously into theological controversy? Does his case show something fundamental and enduring about Biblical faith and rational inquiry, or was it a perfect storm of historical contingencies? Professor Zepeda will address various ways the incident has been mischaracterized and mythologized by defenders and detractors of Galileo, and will draw out some lessons that Catholics should take from an honest assessment of the history.

Joseph Zepeda is Associate Professor at Saint Mary's College of California, where he teaches in the Integral Program of Liberal Arts, a four-year Great Books curriculum. A graduate of Thomas Aquinas College, he completed his doctorate in History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Notre Dame. His published work focuses on the relations between scientific and philosophical thought in the Scientific Revolution, and more broadly on the history of philosophy. His articles have appeared in Galilaeana, The Heythrop Journal, Intellectual History Review, History of Philosophy Quarterly, and the Journal of Inklings Studies. He lives on the East side of the SF Bay Area with his wife Julie and their seven children.

Dr. Jennifer C. Muñoz, Psy. D.


Psychology & the Church: Understanding the Human Person

Modern secular psychology is plagued by a host of philosophical errors, since it lacks a fundamental understanding of man’s true nature. However, when integrated with the Church’s vision of the human person, the science of psychology can offer a wealth of insight into our emotions, motivations, behaviors, and relationships that can assist the Church in guiding people towards human flourishing. This talk will focus mainly on how psychological insights can help improve our personal relationship with God, as well as with the people He has called us to love.

About the Speaker: Jennifer Muñoz, Psy.D., earned her doctorate in clinical psychology from the Institute for the Psychological Sciences, a program that aims to integrate the science of psychology with the Catholic Church’s vision of the human person. Her doctoral dissertation considered the psychological factors that can affect a woman’s experience of a rupture in her relationship with Christ, akin to divorce, after leaving the religious life. She is also a wife and homeschooling mother of three in South Bend, Indiana.

Dr Merrill Roberts, Ph. D.


A Modern Journey of the Magi: Following Our Star to Christ

What is the proper attitude of the faithful scientist? How does one pursue both revealed and observable truth in a coherent and intellectually honest way? Dr. Roberts will discuss some of the open questions in Heliophysics, as well as his NASA research into solar coronal jets and their possible impact on the ongoing Parker Solar Probe mission. Using the account of the Magi as a guide, he will draw on his research experience to lay out a practical example of how the life of faith and the scientific pursuits can be mutually supportive without either overstepping their proper bounds.

About the Speaker:  Dr. Merrill Roberts received his Ph.D. in Physics from The Catholic University of America in 2018, and his B.A. in Liberal Arts from Thomas Aquinas College in 2003. His research in Heliophysics through NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center focuses on the solar corona, specifically on predictive forward modelling and data interpretation for the recently launched Parker Solar Probe spacecraft, which is currently both the fastest man-made object in existence and the closest to the Sun. He is currently a Lecturer in Physics at the Catholic University of America, where among other things he teaches a course in Solar Physics geared towards future primary and secondary school teachers. Dr. Roberts has also taught for nearly a decade at St. Jerome Academy in Hyattsville, MD, where he continues to help develop an innovative, lab-based Nature Studies curriculum. He lives in the Washington DC Metro area with his wife Elizabeth and their four sons.

Br. Gregory Liu, O.P., Ph.D. 


How Studying Chemistry Helped Me Understand Aristotle and St. Thomas Aquinas

After Br. Gregory became a Dominican, he was pleasantly surprised to find that his training in chemistry made Aristotle's and St. Thomas Aquinas' philosophy quite intuitive. In this presentation, Br. Gregory will illustrate key points of Aristotle's and St. Thomas Aquinas' key philosophical concepts, such as causality and teleology, using simple chemistry. Then he will show how the studies of chemistry deeply convinced him that there is no contradiction between science and faith. Rather, this reflection on the divinely-created nature leads us in awe of God's infinite creativity.

About the Speaker: Br. Gregory was born in Taipei, Taiwan. In high school, he became fascinated with chemistry. As an undergraduate student at the University of Toronto, he specialized in synthetic organic chemistry and spent more than ten years in this field. After obtaining his Ph. D. from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, he moved to UC Berkeley for post-doctoral research. It was in Berkeley where he learned about the Dominican Order and subsequently joined the Western Dominican Province. During the formation, he earned an MA in philosophy, focusing on engaging Thomism and Confucianism. He was ordained as a deacon in September 2019, and he is excited to serve the people of God as a priest in the near future.

Br. Paschal Strader, O.P., Ph.D. 


Pursuing Truth: Faith, Science, and Philosophy

A pervading myth in our culture is that faith and science are in conflict -- that we must choose one over the other. On the contrary, if we understand correctly both modern science and the Catholic Faith, it is possible to embrace both without contradiction. If we retrieve and reintroduce ideas from the philosophical tradition of the Church, we can see both science and the teachings of faith in a new, deeper light.

About the Speaker: Br. Paschal Strader, OP grew up in Yucca Valley, CA. He was an undergraduate at Cal State San Bernardino, with a double major in computer science and applied physics. He then obtained an M.A. and Ph.D. in Physics with a concentration in experimental astrophysics at UC Santa Barbara. He did his doctorate research in a lab at UC Santa Barbara that developed and tested a new type of camera to be used with large observatory telescopes, with the eventual goal of taking pictures of planets in other solar systems. He entered the Dominicans in 2016, right after finishing his Ph.D. He is now in his residency year at Prince of Peace Newman Center in Seattle, WA.