News and Updates: 2014

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Fr. Ed Foley interview - Music and Evangelization to the Nones

In the Fall of 2014, Father Edward Foley lectured on campus on evangelization and the Nones, the increasing number of Americans who describe themselves as religiously non-affiliated.  Click here to see the interview.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Monday, October 27, 2014

Fordham GRE and Catholic Extension Reach Out to Marginalized Church Members

Contact: Joanna Mercuri
(212) 636-7175

(Above) Father Shay Auerbach, who works with indigenous people in the Diocese of Richmond, talks about helping parishes in need. To his left are John Kevin Boland, bishop emeritus of the Diocese of Savannah, and Veronica Rayas, director of the Office of Religious Formation for the Diocese of El Paso.
Photo by Dana Maxson
(Below) A map showing the dioceses supported by Catholic Extension.
Photo courtesy of Catholic Extension
Shortly after John Kevin Boland was appointed bishop of the Diocese of Savannah, he established a new parish deep in the rural south of Georgia. The new parish, which became known as Sandhill, comprised roughly 100 families living in a cluster of trailers, at the center of which three trailers stood side by side to serve as a church.

A month later, the Diocese of Savannah held a statewide day of fellowship in the town of Perry. Each parish brought a colorful banner to display its name. The one that stood out to Bishop Boland, however, was the white sheet tied to a tree branch with the name “Sandhill” handwritten on it.

The display was humble, but the message was clear, Bishop Boland said. Regardless of its size or the structure of its church, Sandhill parish was a proud part of the Catholic family.

Bishop Emeritus Boland was one of three alumni from the Graduate School of Religion and Religious Education (GRE) who gathered at Rose Hill on Oct. 22 to share their experiences of working with the poorest of America’s Catholics. Bishop Boland, GRE ’91, was joined by Shay Auerbach, S.J., GRE ’92, of the Diocese of Richmond, Virginia, and Veronica Rayas, Ph.D., GRE ’07, of the Diocese of El Paso, Texas.

The event, “Fordham Serving the Church on the Margins in America,” was a joint effort between Fordham and Catholic Extension, a papal society that supports dioceses in need, including those in which the three Fordham alumni serve.

Founded in 1905, Catholic Extension serves 13 million Catholics in 94 dioceses around the United States and has provided more than $1.2 billion in grants. The organization also awards scholarships for diocesan workers to attend schools such as Fordham for training in religious education and leadership. Fordham alone has received $5.5 million in scholarships from the organization to educate lay ministers and clergy working in Catholic Extension dioceses.

This educational component is critical to the Catholic Extension mission because most poor, rural dioceses lack access to religious leadership, said Father Jack Wall, president of Catholic Extension.

“Sometimes it’s hard for those of us from New York, Chicago, and Boston, where the church is so well established, to conceive of the experience of Catholicism in places where there’s not an abundance of parishes, schools, clergy, and diocesan instructors,” Father Wall said.

“These are places where there’s a great distance between neighboring parishes, where Catholic worship on Sundays often takes place in double-wide trailers, and where there’s one priest for every 7,000 Catholics.”

Bishop Boland said that this has been his experience serving in the Diocese of Savannah, which covers 90 counties in southern Georgia. The diocese extends more than 37,000 square miles, all the way to the borders of Alabama to the west and Florida to the south.

“The diocese is bigger than the entire country from which I came,” said Bishop Boland, a native of Ireland.

Distance and limited resources are not the only challenges at hand, the panelists said. Forty percent of the families in Catholic Extension dioceses live below the poverty level. Many are migrants who have fled violence in Mexico and Central America. Because the majority of these migrants are Catholic, they find refuge in the parish communities.

“In El Paso, the parishes pulled together to receive the migrant families who were released from [U.S.] detention centers,” Rayas said. “People came forward to give these families a place to sleep and to take a shower, to help connect them with family members, help get them plane or bus tickets, and to just listen to their stories.”

C. Colt Anderson, Ph.D., dean of GRE — who himself grew up in Savannah and attended a parish supported by Catholic Extension — emphasized the impact of the organization’s work and the importance of its relationship with Fordham.

“The educational resources I had access to were because of Catholic Extension,” Anderson said. “The resources it provides strengthen the whole church and open up opportunities to people everywhere.”

“Our graduates are out there with Catholic Extension and they’re turning faith into action. It’s a powerful story, and it’s a story that we need to tell and to spread.”

The event was co-sponsored by GRE and Catholic Extension with support from the Francis and Ann Curran Center for American Catholic Studies.

Click here: The three panelists discuss their experiences with Catholic Extension and how Fordham has prepared them for their work. Video courtesy of Catholic Extension.

Founded in 1841, Fordham is the Jesuit University of New York, offering exceptional education distinguished by the Jesuit tradition to more than 15,100 students in its four undergraduate colleges and its six graduate and professional schools. It has residential campuses in the Bronx and Manhattan, a campus in West Harrison, N.Y., the Louis Calder Center Biological Field Station in Armonk, N.Y., and the London Centre in the United Kingdom.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Rewiring the Brain: A new book from Dr. Kirk Bingaman, GSRRE

Pastoral Counseling and Neuroplasticity:

Rewiring the Brain to Lower Stress and Anxiety

Kirk Bingaman’s new book explores how recent findings in neuroscience can help in pastoral and spiritual care.Photo by Janet Sassi

By Joanna K. Mercuri

If Jesus were a neuroscientist, talk of “plasticity” might have made the final cut of his Sermon on the Mount.
It turns out that when he counseled his disciples, “Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself,” Jesus was tapping into a concept that neuroscientists say could reduce stress for our hyperanxious society.

At Fordham, Kirk Bingaman, Ph.D., an associate professor in the Graduate School of Religion and Religious Education, is taking his lead from these neuroscientists and arguing that those who find solace in the sermon would also benefit from what science has to say. In his latest book, The Power of Neuroplasticity for Pastoral and Spiritual Care (Lexington Books, 2014), Bingaman suggests ways pastoral and spiritual caregivers can draw on contemporary neuroscience to help their clients and congregants relieve undue anxiety.

“We hear it in the Sermon on the Mount and we hear it in our churches today—don’t worry about tomorrow, stay centered in today. We grasp it intellectually, but how, practically, do we not worry?” said Bingaman, who is also a pastoral counselor.

In the book, Bingaman explores the impact that an adaptive mechanism known as the negativity bias has on our well-being. An evolutionary cousin of the “fight or flight” phenomenon, this bias describes the brain’s propensity to experience negative events more intensely in order to alert us to potential danger.

A built-in negativity bias was vital when humans lived as hunter-gatherers ever at the ready to flee from a hungry lion. In the modern world, however, this bias tends to cause excessive negativity and anxiety.

“[This] anxiety spills over into our relationships with others and with ourselves,” Bingaman said. “It causes us to assume the worst, to overreact to situations in ways such as, ‘Why did you look at me this way? Why did you use that tone?’”

Fortunately, he says, we are not condemned to primal negativity, thanks to the human brain’s capacity to change across the lifespan. With every new experience—creating a memory, learning new information, or adapting to a new situation—the brain undergoes structural changes, generating new neural pathways and reshaping existing ones. This ability, known as neuroplasticity, forms the crux of Bingaman’s book.

He argues that the most effective way to harness the power of neuroplasticity is through mindfulness meditation and contemplative spiritual practice. Through these therapeutic and spiritual techniques, clients learn to become aware of their thoughts and feelings. Rather than reacting to or trying to eliminate them, clients learn to simply observe them as they come and go, without getting “hooked.”

“Thoughts and feelings have a 90-second shelf-life biochemically. So when we experience an anxious thought or feeling, [the reaction] will dissipate from the blood in 90 seconds—unless we feed the thought or judge ourselves for feeling that way,” he said. “The key to mindfulness-based therapy is to let thoughts and feelings come and go without fighting them. This then reduces the limbic activity in our brains and calms the amygdala.”

These practices—which are so well-regarded that they are central to the “third wave” of classical cognitive behavioral therapy—can take a variety of forms and be applied in both religious and nonreligious settings. For example, one might spend 15 minutes each day sitting quietly and focusing on the ebb and flow of his or her breath. Alternatively, one might practice something like the Christian centering prayer, in which the practitioner meditates on a “sacred word” (such as “Jesus,” “God,” or “love”) while learning to modulate the many other chaotic thoughts that crowd the mind.

Bingaman says that these practices, informed by the science of neuroplasticity, will “necessitate a paradigm shift” in the way pastoral and spiritual caregivers approach their work with clients, especially clients whose anxiety may have been exacerbated by their own religious beliefs.

“When a theology views the spiritual quest as a matter of warfare—as a battle within the person, or as a matter of good versus evil and flesh versus spirit—that activates neural circuitry that causes stress,” he said. “If we overdo that construct, the person in our care might see himself as flawed and defective, and that could end up reinforcing the negativity bias.

“Whether it’s therapy or theology, we need to look at the frames of reference we are using to help the person in our care to calm their anxious brain. Some of our approaches are going to fire up the limbic region, and others will do the reverse,” he said. “So we have to make more use of contemplative practices in religious and spiritual circles… They’re not just for the mystics off in the desert. They’re for you and me and everyone else.”

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Dr. Kirk Bingaman has published his third book

The Power of Neuroplasticity for Pastoral and Spiritual Care (Lexington, 2014). The book focuses on neuroscientific findings, which reveal that through regular contemplative-meditational practice we can learn how to calm the fear and stress regions of the brain. It provides practitioners and clinicians with an understanding of how the findings can be applied to the work of pastoral and spiritual care, as we go about helping clients and congregants to cultivate less anxious and more positive perspectives on life.   

Serving the Church on the Margins in America - a joint event with the Catholic Extension Society

The Graduate School of Religion and Religious Education
Catholic Extension present

Fordham-Serving the Church on the Margins in America
Location: Duane Library's Tognino Hall - Fordham University Rose Hill Campus 
Date: Wednesday, October 22nd 2014
Time: 6:00pm 


Our Panelists: 
Fr. Shay Auerbach is a Jesuit priest who works with indigenous people in the Diocese of Richmond, Virgina. Fr. Shay studied at Fordham University as a Jesuit Scholastic
The Most Reverend John Kevin Boland, Bishop Emeritus, Diocese of Savannah has served his entire priesthood in the missions in southern Georgia. Bishop Boland received his degree at Fordham through the sponsorship of Catholic Extension. 
Veronica Rayas, Ph.D., is a Latina native of El Paso, Texas,  who currently serves as the Diocesan Director of Religious Education. Through Catholic Extension Dr. Rayas achieved her Master's degree at Fordham University; she then completed her Ph.D. while working for the Archdiocese of New York.  

Thursday, September 11, 2014

College of St. Benedict names alumnus of GRE, MaryHinton, as 15th President

Mary Dana Hinton became the 15th president of CSB on July 1, 2014 in St. Joseph, Minnesota. She received her Ph.D. in religious education from the Fordham University GSRRE, a Master of Arts degree in clinical child psychology from the University of Kansas, and a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology from Williams College. She most recently served as the vice president for academic affairs at Mount Saint Mary College in Newburgh, N.Y. “I am humbled by the opportunity to lead an institution with such a powerful liberal arts tradition that is grounded in Benedictine values of the founding order,” Hinton said.

Hinton is the author of "The Commercial Church: Black Churches and the New Religious Marketplace in America." Her research is on African American religious history and religious education, and strategic planning and leadership. She has served on several national higher education boards: including the Association of General and Liberal Studies, the Religious Education Association, and the Mid-Atlantic Religion of the American Academy of Religion.  Here is more information on her celebrations.

Hinton and her husband, Robert Williams, have three children: Hallela, Hillel and Hosanna.

The inauguration of Mary Dana Hinton, Ph.D., as the 15th president of College of Saint Benedict will be Sunday, Sept. 21, 2014.The events begin with an inauguration Eucharist at 10:30 a.m. in the Sacred Heart Chapel, Saint Benedict's Monastery.

Monday, September 8, 2014

God, Christ, the Church, and Salvation C. Colt Anderson, Ph.D., presenter

God, Christ, the Church, and Salvation
C. Colt Anderson, Ph.D., presenter

Explore and deepen your understanding of essential doctrines and the Nicene Creed, and their relation to spiritual life and practice. 
Friday, Octoebr 17th 2014
10:00am to 1:00pm
Fordham Westchester Campus

Registration $100, Fordham Alumni $50, Current Graduate Religion Students FREE
Lunch to be provided

Vineyard Workers’ Workshops meet all standards for lay ministry certification through the National Association of Lay ministry!

To find out more information as to how you can earn CEUs for this and other workshops offered by the GRE, please contact your local parish or diocese.

Registration is not yet available, please check back later.

Dr. C. Colt Anderson, Ph.D., is Dean of the Graduate School of Religion at Fordham University.

A church historian and theologian, his research focuses on the intersection between three areas of concern: the
communication of the Gospel evangelization), how to reform the church, and the importance of an eschatological perspective for Christian life.

Sex and the Soul: Juggling Sexuality, Spirituality, Romance and Religion on America's College Campus

Monday September 8, 2014 | 6:00pm

Tognino Hall | Rose Hill Campus | Fordham University | Bronx, NY

Donna Freitas, Ph.D., will discuss the findings of her research about students attitudes regarding hookup culture, sex, romance, and dating on college campuses today, and how a pervasive interest in spirituality fits into this mix. She will talk about the powerful--though often private--yearnings among men and women to find love during college despite the dominance of hookup culture, and the particular ways the Catholic tradition can respond to this yearning, as well as the desire for something other than hooking up during the college experience. 

Donna Freitas has written many books, both nonfiction and fiction. She is the author of Sex and the Soul: Juggling Sexuality, Spirituality, Romance and Religion on America's College Campuses, published by Oxford University Press in 2008. Her follow up title, The End of Sex, came out from Basic Books this past April. Freitas has written for national newspapers and magazines, including The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Boston Globe, and Newsweek, and she has appeared on NPR, The Today Show, and other news media outlets discussing her work for Sex and the Soul as well as other research topics. Freitas has been a professor at Boston University in the Department of Religion and also at Hofstra University in their Honors College. She is currently a non-resident Research Associate at the Center for the Study of Religion and Society at the University of Notre Dame. She lives in Brooklyn. 

Friday, August 29, 2014

Dr. Beaudoin gives summer presentations in Holland, England and to new teachers in the Archdiocese of New York

This summer, GSRRE's Dr. Tom Beaudoin gave a number of talks and lectures in the US and in Europe.  Here is a partial summary of this busy summer.

GSRRE's Prof. Tom Beaudoin gave a presentation on Wednesday August 27th to high school religion teachers at the New York Archdiocese Summer Seminar in Manhattan, titled " 'But the Other Nine, Where Are They?' Declining Church Affiliation Among Teenagers".

This summer the Dutch magazine Kerk en Wereld published this story and picture, from the April conference in Zwolle for chaplains and pastoral workers that Dr. Beaudoin keynoted, "Beyond Dispossession," a conference based on themes from his 2008 book _Witness to Dispossession_.

GSRRE's Prof. Tom Beaudoin, associate professor of religion, gave a plenary address at a conference at Heythrop College in London on June 26. The conference, "Shaped By Beauty: Art, Religion, and Ethics in Conversation," was co-sponsored by Heythrop and by Fordham. Prof. Beaudoin's address is titled "Facilitating Life: An Ethic for Making Theological Sense of Music."

Fordham GRE/Maryknoll program trains new leaders for the Chinese church

Fordham GRE has had a long-standing relationship with Maryknoll to train nuns, priests and lay people to serve the church in China.  Here is a recent article about some of our graduatess from the program.  This Fall our program with Maryknoll continues with new students starting classes in September.  Click here for the related news story.

Monday, July 7, 2014

New certificate programs debut in Latino Ministry and Christian Spirituality

Two new advanced certificate programs have been added to the offerings at Fordham University, GSRRE.  Both programs will start in Fall 2014 and are available on campus or online.

The Advanced Certificate in Latino Ministry is a 12 credit, 4 course program for those interested in learning more about Latino Ministry in practice.  Entering students must have an Master's of Divinity or it's equivalent to apply.

The Advanced Certificate in Christian Spirituality is a new, 18 credit, certificate program open to anyone with a bachelor's degree.  The program was created to serve new demands for a program that helps students explore Christian Spirituality without a focus on spiritual direction(which is available as a separate program at GSRRE).  

For more information on these programs please visit or call us at 718-817-4800.

Bishop Suriel completes Ph.D.

Bishop Suriel, a May 2014 Ph.D. Graduate of GSRRE, was featured in a recent news story about his research on Archdeacon Habib Girgis.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Dr. Thomas Beaudoin gives plenary address at Heythrop College/London

GSRRE's Prof. Tom Beaudoin, associate professor of religion, will be giving a plenary address at a conference at Heythrop College in London. The conference, "Shaped By Beauty: Art, Religion, and Ethics in Conversation," is co-sponsored by Heythrop and by Fordham. Prof. Beaudoin's address is titled "Facilitating Life: An Ethic for Making Theological Sense of Music." For more on the conference, click here.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Dr. Joseph Petriello, GSRRE Alumnus, named Assistant for Education in the New York Jesuit Province

Dr. Joseph A. Petriello was recently named Assistant for Pre-Secondary and Secondary Education for the New York Province of the Society of Jesus(Jesuits). He will assume his duties at the Provincial’s Office in August.

Joe has taught in the Religion Department at Xavier High School since 2002. He has also served Xavier in various capacities as a member of the Campus Ministry team, director of student retreats, Director of Ignatian Service Programs, and Chair of the Religion Department.  Joe has also served as a member of the Province Pre-Secondary and Secondary Education Advisory Board.

A Bronx native, Joe is a graduate of Fordham Prep and the College of the Holy Cross.  He received a Ph.D. in Religious Education from Fordham University, where he currently teaches as an Adjunct Instructor in the Graduate School of Religion and Religious Education. He is also a graduate of the JSEA Seminars in Ignatian Leadership.

Joe currently resides in Ridgefield, NJ with his wife Loredana and their four children, Sofia, Gabriella, Adriana, and Gianluca.

The Province owes Ed Young a debt of gratitude for his services to the schools the past 3 years.  Ed’s passionate commitment to Jesuit education was evident in his efforts to extend cura apostolica to the Province high schools and Nativity schools.

Dean Anderson gives a talk on Careers and the future of Ministry

On May 22nd, Dean Anderson gave a talk on Careers in Ministry at the Lincoln Center campus.  The Dean looked at historical trends in the development of the Church and set today’s Church in that context.  He discussed avenues to serve in ministry through educational institutions, houses of worship, non-profits, hospitals and many other avenues.  With the reduction in the number of people in the clergy and religious orders, Dean Anderson discussed the need to train lay people now to fill roles traditionally filled by the clergy in the past.    He used the current student body of the Graduate School of Religion to illustrate the shift of so many people from other careers to second careers in ministry.  He discussed the creation of new ministries in the work of Dorothy Day and St. Ignatius of Loyola and related them to new trends today.

What are the needs of the times?  Dean Anderson discussed the call for new ministries to match the needs of the day in Lumen Gentium and in Ignatius’ writings.  As the number of  people in religious orders has declined steadily, the GSRRE has continued to grow.  How has this happened?  The number of lay people, particularly second career people, in our program has grown steadily.  The Dean discussed the shifts in his school to meet the needs(degrees) and schedules(night courses, online courses, summer intensives) of people serving the 21st century Church.  In looking at future trends, the Dean expects continued growth in mission positions in organizations like hospitals, colleges, etc.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Opening the Field of Practical Theology - Professor Beaudoin contributes two chapters....

Dr. Tom Beaudoin of GSRRE authored two chapters that have just been published in a new introduction to practical theology. The book, Opening the Field of Practical Theology: An Introduction (Rowman and Littlefield, 2014), edited by Drs. Kathleen Cahalan (St. John's Collegeville) and Gordon Mikoski (Princeton), features chapters by leading scholars in the field and is meant to serve as a fundamental reference for graduate students and established scholars. Dr. Beaudoin authored the chapter "Postmodern Practical Theology," and with Dr. Katherine Turpin of Iliff School of Theology in Denver, he co-authored the chapter "White Practical Theology."

Friday, April 4, 2014

Dr. Beaudoin lectures at two events in the Netherlands around his book Witness to Dispossession: The Vocation of a Postmodern Theologian

GSRRE's Dr. Tom Beaudoin is lecturing this week at two conferences in the Netherlands devoted to Dr. Beaudoin's research about religious practice in contemporary culture. The conferences are organized around Dr. Beaudoin's book, Witness to Dispossession: The Vocation of a Postmodern Theologian (Orbis, 2008). 

He will respond to presenters at a conference on dispossession at the Tilburg School of Catholic Theology in Tilburg, and then he will lecture and respond to presenters at a conference on dispossession at Windesheim University in Zwolle. While in the Netherlands, he will also be meeting with pastoral leaders and academic theologians about theology and ministry in contemporary culture. 

Friday, March 28, 2014

Loyola Chair Lecture - April 2nd - Free and Open to the public: Liturgical Reform and the Public Role of the Catholic Church: The Legacy of Vatican II" with Fr. John Baldovin, SJ

Dean C. Colt Anderson on "Francis of Assisi and Ignatius of Loyola: Two Ways of Reforming"

Francis of Assisi and Ignatius of Loyola: Two Ways of Reforming

C. Colt Anderson, Dean of the Graduate School of Religion and Religious Education presented at the GSRRE conference:  Franciscans, Jesuits and a New Pope:  Medieval Lessons for Modern Reform on March 14th and 15th.  The author of Great Catholic Reformers(2007), Dean Anderson spoke about "Francis of Assisi and Ignatius of Loyola:  Two Ways of Reforming" as part of the conference connecting Jesuit and Franciscan charisms and efforts at reform.