News and Updates: March 2011

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Theoforum article on Inter-religious Education from Dr. Gloria Durka

Dr. Gloria Durka, Professor of Religious Education, GSRRE, has published “Through the Looking Glass: A U.S. Roman Catholic View of Inter-religious Education and Dialogue,” in THEOFORUM, (Continuation of Eglise et Theologie), Vol 41, No. 1, 2010, pp. 113-129.

Ministry Faculty Updates - March 2011

Dr. Thomas Beaudoin will be giving a presentation at the Festival of Faith and Music at Calvin College, Grand Rapids, Michigan, on Saturday 9 April. His talk is titled "Making Faith Sense of Popular Music: A Complicated Conversation."

Dr. Chad Thralls, GSRRE Visiting Professor, gave a talk at the Rose Hill Campus of Fordham University titled "Don't Forget to Look at the Trees: Envisioning a spiritual path that leads from the beauty of nature to ethical action". The talk examined the work of the Jewish scholar Abraham Joshua Herschel and what he might contribute to a Christian spirituality of the natural world.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Dr. Scott gives plenary address on "The Roman Catholic Dilemma"

Dr.Kieran Scott, Associate Professor at GSRRE, gave a Plenary Address titled,"The Roman Catholic Dilemma: Teaching or Commanding Sexual Embodiment?",at the Annual Mid-Atlantic American Academy of Religion meeting, March 17, 2011 in New Brunswick, New Jersey.

Summer 2011 at Fordham - Graduate Religion and Religious Education

Please take a moment to look at our Summer 2011 offerings at this link. Our Summer courses are:

1)Open to continuing and new students, and also to auditors($150 per course/no auditing spots available in online courses).

2)Offered on-line, at St. Francis(31st, NYC) and our main campus in the Bronx.

3)New offerings from world-renowned faculty.

FOr further information please contact Bill Madden, asst. dean, at 718-817-4800 or

Friday, March 18, 2011

Dr. Gloria Durka speaks at the University of Latvia with GSRRE Alumna Dr. Ines Runce

Gloria Durka, Professor of Religious Education, addressed a plenary session of the International Conference on “Globalization and Localization: Theory, Problems and Practices of Religious Conversion in Europe,” which was held at the University of Latvia, Riga, February 10-11, 2011.

Conference coordinators included Dr. Inese Runce, MA, GSRRE, who is a professor and researcher in the Institute of Philosophy and Sociology, University of Latvia. The conference was sponsored by the European Union, and it brought together scholars from Italy, Russia, Ireland, the UK and Baltic countries. Dr. Durka was the only invited scholar from the United States. Her paper was entitled, “Inter-religious Education and Conversion in a Divided World: Perspectives from the United States.”

Friday, March 11, 2011

Fordham Faculty Publications and Lectures - Journal of Pastoral Psychology, Istanbul, Turkey and more

Dr. Kirk Bingaman's article, "The Art of Contemplative and Mindfulness Practice: Incorporating the Findings of Neuroscience into Pastoral Care and Counseling", has been published in the journal, Pastoral Psychology. The article is based on a paper Dr. Bingaman presented in Fall 2010 at the New Directions in Pastoral Theology conference in Richmond, VA.

Dr. Robert Brancatelli will be giving two papers at the College Theology Society's (CTS) annual convention June 2-5, 2011 at Iona College in New York. The presentations are: "Treasure in Jars of Clay: Men, Woman, and Brokenness" and "Entrepreneurial Discipleship: Having Faith in the Marketplace."

At the annual meeting of the New England Conference of Diocesan Directors of Religious Education Dr. Brancatelli will give a preentation entitled "Transformative Catechesis."

Fordham's Graduate School of Business will hold a Consortium April 8-10, 2011 in Istanbul, Turkey. Dr. Brancatelli will take part in this event which intends to stimulate "protracted critical, creative, and constructive dialogue on the context of business in the 21st century." Dr. Brancatelli's interst is in the intersection of religion and commerce in the context of globalization.

Dr. Thomas Beaudoin will give a presentation, entitled "Contemporary Theologies of Ministry for Pastoral Workers" and will take part in a panel on "My Life is Calling Me: Young Adults Speak" at the Los Angeles Religious Education Conference this week.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Professor Shows How Religion Can Help Trauma Victims Recover

Contact: Patrick Verel
(212) 636-7790

Mary Beth Werdel
Photo by Patrick Verel
When assisting people who are suffering from the effects of trauma, Mary Beth Werdel, Ph.D., said mental health practitioners should consider the person’s faith as a tool for healing.

Werdel, a visiting professor of pastoral counseling in the Graduate School of Religion and Religious Education (GRE), explored the topic in a lecture on March 1 at Fordham Westchester.

“Bessel van der Kolk, who is one of the leading trauma researchers, described a traumatic experience as leaving a person with the feeling that they’ve lost their way in the world. So trauma takes away our map. It takes away the cognitive framework through which we can navigate our world,” she said.

Werdel described the difference between a global meaning and a situational meaning as it applies to trauma victims. An example of a global meaning—one that enables people to make sense of the world—might be that the world is generally a safe place.

But a traumatic event changes that perception, because the victim’s situational meaning—one that helps them make sense of their specific place in the world—is markedly different.

It is in reconciling these two meanings that some people can experience growth and recovery. That kind of growth is associated with people who tend to be creative thinkers, as well as people who generally exhibit several variables, including higher levels of optimism, hopefulness and openness, she said.

One variable that does not factor heavily is positive social support, Werdel said.

“The research has found it’s not so important to have positive social support, even though that’s good,” she said. “What’s really important is that there’s not negative social support—there aren’t people surrounding us who are discounting our traumatic experience. That actually has a profound negative impact on our ability to heal.”

As to the roles that religion and spirituality play in healing, she noted that religious texts such as St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans have long shown the links between suffering and personal growth.

Religious orientation is a factor in healing when it’s intrinsic—someone who is attracted to religion for its beliefs—as opposed to extrinsic, such as someone who goes to church to make new friends.

“Intrinsic religiosity tends to be correlated with growth, and specifically, this sub-scale of readiness to face existential questions,” she said.

Religious coping is another variable that has been studied, and like orientation, Werdel noted it can be split into two parts: Positive religious coping reflects a secure relationship with God, while negative religious coping tends to embrace a tenuous, ominous view of the world. An example of negative religious coping, she said, is someone who blames God for the tragedy that has affected him or her.

Finally, the more religious practices that a person embraces, the more likely he or she will be able to grow. As such, spiritual and religious variables say something unique that other variables don’t capture, Werdel said.

“Theory and research provide evidence for the importance of doing spiritual assessments with our clients, for getting an understanding of what their faith beliefs are, she said. “We don’t need to get into theological conversations, necessarily, but how their lived experience of God relates to what they bring to the mental health sessions.”

Her lecture, “Rising in Wreckage: Theory, Research and Clinical Implications of the Relationship Between Spirituality and Post-Traumatic Growth,” was sponsored by GRE.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Thomas Beaudoin, GSRRE Associate Professor, will be be preaching at the Lenten Vespers series at Corpus Christi Catholic Church in Manhattan on Sunday 13 March at 4pm. For further information, click here.

Tom Beaudoin, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Theology
Fordham University
Graduate School of Religion and Religious Education
441 East Fordham Road, Keating Hall 303
New York, New York 10458-9993
United States