Fordham University will establish a doctoral program in the Graduate School of Religion and Religious Education (GRE) tailored to lay ecclesial ministers and other church professionals.
The new program, which will have concentrations in pastoral ministry, pastoral counseling, and spirituality and spiritual direction, is set to begin enrolling students for the fall semester—making Fordham the only Jesuit university in the country to confer the Doctor of Ministry degree.
“This is quite possibly the most significant development since the School was founded in the mid-1960s,” said Rev. Anthony Ciorra, Ph.D., dean of the Graduate School of Religion and Religious Education. “The School was founded for the purpose of serving the church in terms of religious education and we continue in that mission, but the church’s needs have changed because of the diminishing numbers of priests and sisters and as more lay people respond more directly to their baptismal call for service to the church. This degree program is a response to that need.”
Lay ecclesial ministers within the Catholic Church can be men or women and serve as everything from youth ministry leaders to directors of liturgy or pastoral music. The core curriculum for the program has already been developed, Father Ciorra said, and the initial cohort that will begin in the fall will be limited to 10 to 12 students. After the first year, the program will likely be expanded to allow a larger number of students to enroll.