The Graduate School of Religion and Religious Education was founded in 1964. The context was the renewal that swept through the Roman Catholic Church during the Second Vatican Council. Blessed John XXIII took the world by surprise when he announced the Council in 1958. He joyfully and courageously opened the council on October 11, 1962. It was his successor, Pope Paul VI, who concluded the Council on December 8, 1965.
One of the many things that needed renewal were the traditional catechisms that had the “Question and Answer” structure. A small group of Jesuits at Fordham read the signs of the times and began working on a new structure for religious education that would replace the traditional catechism. It was this vision and energy that was at the foundation of a new graduate school at the university.
Little did the founding Jesuits realize that this would only be the beginning. It was that same ability to read the signs of the times and to respond accordingly that has characterized the development of several other programs within the school. Programs in Pastoral Counseling, Spirituality and Spiritual Direction, and Pastoral Studies have evolved over forty years to round out the vision of renewal in religious education in response to the new directions of the Second Vatican Council.
Currently there are three thirty-six credit Masters programs, one sixty credit program, two certificate programs, and two doctoral programs offered on three campuses. But far beyond the wildest dreams of Pope John and the Jesuit founders, the Graduate School of Religion and Religious Education has now moved into cyber space with the Masters of Religious Education (Youth and Young Adult concentration), the Masters of Pastoral Care and the Certificate in Faith Formation offered online. The scope of the mission of the Graduate School of Religious Education in the twenty-first century is virtually without boundaries.