The 2023 St. Albert Award was given to Anthony Ichiro Sanda in recognition of his witness to the harmony of faith and science given by his writing and public speaking on the relation of science and faith, his life of service to the Church, and his distinguished achievements in scientific research.
Prof. Sanda has won numerous scientific awards in the U.S. and Japan for his contributions to fundamental physics. He has written and spoken extensively in his native country of Japan on the relation of science and the Catholic faith, including writing a book in Japanese entitled “As a Scientist, Why Do I Believe in God?” He was ordained as a permanent deacon at Diocese of Nagoya in May 2006, and was transferred to the Archdiocese of Tokyo in April 2011.
Prof. Sanda received his B.S. in Physics from University of Illinois in 1965 and his Ph.D. from Princeton University in 1969. He did research at Columbia University and Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory before taking a faculty position at Rockefeller University. In 1992, he became Professor of Physics at Nagoya University. Since 2006 he has been Professor Emeritus at Nagoya University and a Professor at Kanagawa University. Since 2007 he has also been a Program Officer of the Kavli Institute for the Physics and Mathematics of the Universe at the University of Tokyo.
Prof. Sanda is well known in the field of theoretical particle physics for several major achievements. One was the development, in a paper with Kazuo Fujikawa and Benjamin W. Lee, of a powerful and widely used technique for doing calculations in quantum field theories that have spontaneously broken gauge symmetry, an important type of theory that includes the part of the Standard Model of Particle Physics that describes the electroweak force. Even more influential was his theoretical work, with Ikaros Bigi and others, that showed how the measurement of the properties of B mesons could be a powerful tool in understanding how CP symmetry (a symmetry that relates particles and antiparticles) is violated in nature. This work motivated and guided a large area of experimental particle physics research at major laboratories throughout the world. For this work, Prof. Sanda and Prof. Bigi received the 2004 Sakurai Prize, the highest award given by the American Physical Society for work in theoretical particle physics. He has also received numerous awards in Japan, including the Inoue Prize for Science in 1993, the Nishina Memorial Prize in 1997, the Chunichi Shimbun Prize in 2002, the Shuji Orito Prize in 2015, and two medals awarded by the Emperor of Japan: the Medal with Purple Ribbon in 2002, and Order of the Sacred Treasure in 2017.
What is most important to Prof. Sanda, however, is his service to the Church, both as a deacon and through his writings and other educational work on the relationship between science and faith.
Prof. Anthony Ichiro Sanda’s letter accepting the award, read at the 2023 conference of SCS:
Dear Society of Catholic Scientists,
I am writing to express my sincere gratitude for being honored with the St. Albert Award for my work as a Deacon in the Catholic Church and for my contributions to elementary particle physics. St. Albert was a great scholar and scientist who significantly contributed to natural philosophy and theology. He is a shining example of the compatibility between faith and science, and his life and work continue to inspire and guide scientists and believers alike. I am humbled and honored to receive this recognition from such a respected organization.
Science and religion are complementary paths to exploring the mysteries of the universe. My mission is to share this message and promote the understanding that science and faith are not conflicting but mutually enriching. Let me share my recent activities over the past three months, highlighting my dedication to this mission.
This semester, I am teaching three courses: the Alpha Course, God and Science, and God’s Great Ideas. Through these courses, I aim to inspire participants to recognize the importance of Christ’s sacrifices and become Christ’s disciples.
In April, I gave a webinar entitled “Write a Book for My Niece so that She Comes Back to Christ.” One day, out of nowhere, my niece’s 5-year-old son said, “Mom, I believe in God”. In search for an answer to her son, she began reading the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Shortly after, she experienced a conversion and promptly arranged for her boys to be baptized. This experience reaffirmed the transformative power of faith and the impact of sharing it through various means.
I delivered a webinar to seminary students on God and Science in early May. I also participated as a panelist, answering questions related to the subject. The webinar garnered considerable interest from individuals across Japan, demonstrating a widespread curiosity about the intersection of science and faith. This presentation will continue to promote harmonious dialogue between these two realms.
I delivered a talk titled “Seeking God through Science” to 800 middle and high school students at the Sacred Heart Academy just yesterday. The interactive session sparked lively discussions and raised intriguing questions, providing a remarkable opportunity to share my insights with young minds eager to explore the connections between science and God.
Looking ahead, I am excited about an upcoming radio interview next month. This platform will allow me to articulate and discuss my views on science and God, reaching a broader audience and further promoting the harmony between these two spheres of human understanding.
Furthermore, I have been working on a YouTube reading of “God’s Great Idea” by Fr. Fio Mascarenhas, S.J., over the past two years. Recognizing the growing popularity of online platforms for faith-based learning, I believe this YouTube presentation will be a valuable resource for those studying for baptism and seeking a deeper understanding of God’s plan.
Amidst my commitments to teaching and public speaking, a divine calling from the Holy Spirit led me to an extraordinary opportunity. I had the honor of crossing paths with a man who underwent a profound transformation throughout various stretches of incarceration. His personal journey served as the catalyst for founding a non-profit organization (NPO) devoted to creating employment pathways, ultimately help deter young individuals from falling back into the prison system after their release. Recently, he approached me with a special request, seeking my collaboration in imparting the teachings of Christ to these young souls. This invitation allows me to provide guidance and support, nurturing their faith.
While I was baptized as an infant, my profound calling to serve God became evident during my studies in physics. The awe-inspiring beauty of mathematical principles underlying physical laws stirred within me a deep appreciation for the wonders of creation. I sensed the guiding presence of the Holy Spirit during these moments of discovery. However, I was determined not to abandon my pursuit of physics midway and sought to discern my unique contribution to the field. With patience and prayers, I asked God to wait, and after 40 years, the answer finally arrived.
As a result of this delay, I feel a sense of urgency, recognizing that time is not unlimited to fulfill my mission. Nonetheless, I am immensely grateful for receiving this award, as it serves as a catalyst propelling me in the right direction and motivating me to make the most of the time I have.
No SCS chapter exists in Japan, and establishing one would be immensely beneficial. However, given that the Catholic population in Japan is only 0.34% compared to 23% in the USA, the endeavor may pose challenges. Therefore, I humbly request your prayers and support to make this endeavor a reality in Japan.
Once again, I express my deepest gratitude for this award. I am committed to continuing my work in the Church and the scientific community with renewed passion and dedication. Your recognition of my efforts inspires me to strive for excellence in all endeavors. Thank you for your unwavering support.
Love and Prayers,
Anthony Ichiro Sanda