Boy in Crown Fountain. Photo by Sharon Mollerus

Only Wonder Knows

On September 28-30, the Festival of Friendship will take place at Pittsburgh’s Trust Arts Education Center. Here is an overview if what's in store.
Meghan Berneking

This month, the city of Pittsburgh will have the opportunity to explore the various implications of this quote by Pope St. Gregory the Great: “Only Wonder Knows.” This phrase is the theme for the third annual Festival of Friendship, an event inspired by the Rimini Meeting and New York Encounter, which will take place at Pittsburgh’s Trust Arts Education Center on Sept. 28-30. The free weekend-long festival will feature a variety of exhibits, panel discussions, concerts and more, focused on facilitating dialogue and exploring a variety of topics through the lens of the theme.

“We chose this theme because we recognize that we want to understand ourselves and the world around us,” said founder and coordinator Suzanne Lewis. “The Festival of Friendship shows us the most important aspect of the adventure of knowledge through wonder: friendship. Without companions who can look at us with awe and share in our wonder, we are in danger of imagining that internet quizzes or self-help books could answer life’s great questions.”

Highlights of the weekend schedule include a concert both evenings, plus jazz piano performances throughout the day. Friday night’s classical music concert will feature works by Couperin, Biber, Bach and Brahms, and Saturday’s concert will be a presentation on choral music. Another Festival highlight is a presentation on the miracle of hospitality, which will include a dinner hosted by the Islamic Center of Pittsburgh. Available to visit throughout the weekend will be a photography exhibit on migration (“Out of Many—Stories on Migration”), an exhibit on the work of American artist Edward Hopper (“The Eternal Instant”), and a display on the “Portico of Glory,” the sculptural masterpiece located at the final destination for pilgrims on the Camino pilgrimage. Each will be presented by panelists during the festival. Panel discussions include a keynote address by theologians Michael and Susan Waldstein, and topics including Catholic-Buddhist dialogue, the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, immigration, choral singing, and more. The full schedule with details about each event is located online at