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John S. Nelson and Joseph and Vincent Novak

By George McCauley, S. J.


JOHN NELSON (1928 -), a native of Brooklyn, attended Regis High School in New York City. His teaching career was at Fordham University’s Graduate School of Religion and Religious Education.

JOSEPH NOVAK, S.J. (1927-2010) was born in Jersey City, NJ, and attended Xavier High School in New York City. He entered the Jesuits in 1945 and spent over 20 years at Fordham University’s Graduate School of Religion and Religious Education before being called away to assume highly responsible posts in the governance of the NY Province of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits).

VINCENT M. NOVAK S.J.(1924-2012) was born in Jersey City, N.J.  As Dean of Fordham University’s Graduate School of Religion and Religious Education for 40 years, his leadership fostered every path-breaking development in Catholic religious education from the 1950s onward.



Photo of John Nelson

When in the 1940s John Nelson volunteered to teach a fifth-grade CCD class, the textbook was the Baltimore Catechism and the manual was Heeg’s Chalk Talk. Among United States Catholics (European Catholics were on a different time schedule) there were some rumblings for change, but they had to do more with pedagogy (how to teach), rather than with doctrine and theology (what to teach). The curriculum was confessional, that is, it focused on the Roman Catholic church as different from other bodies who call themselves Christian. In cyclic fashion, the curriculum followed the sequence of creed, code, and cult, with prayer interspersed. For the sake of confessional identity and verbal accuracy, the catechetical method deemed most appropriate was memorization.

Then a whisper of the late 1950s turned into a windstorm in the 1960s. The biblical-liturgical movement blew away the dominance of the traditional approach. It got its articulation from the new, postwar way of doing theology. It got its empowerment from the Second Vatican Council. It got its propagation from the schools and learning centers that sprung up across the English-speaking world. The biblical-liturgical approach (also called “kerygmatic”) continued to express itself in religious language and to structure its curriculum upon creed, code, cult, and prayer, but it changed the way each of them came to be understood. Most essentially, the changes moved the central focus from church as structured society to Jesus as risen Lord. As a method, proclamation of the good news as modeled by the reformed liturgy of the word replaced memorization of catechism questions and answers.

It was at this time that John Nelson, together with Vincent and Joseph Novak, produced the Lord and King high school religion series (his own contribution was The Church: The People of God) and eventually founded what evolved into Fordham University’s Graduate School of Religion and Religious Education (GSRRE). Like the Novak brothers, he too earned his Diplome at Lumen Vitae, seedbed of the developments in catechetical education mentioned earlier.

The change in catechetics begun in the late 1960s and continued into the 1970s was far more radical. It is still with us, although it is controverted. Its advocates present God as active not so much in the community of the church, not so much in the scriptures, but in the experience of human living. This approach to catechesis has many forms and names -- person-centered, experiential, anthropological, existential -- but its adherents insist on the centrality of what is human. Its method is, above all, discovery. He would analyze this shift at one point in this fashion: “The topic mostly debated in the first decade after to Second Vatican Council concerned the mission of the church in the modern world. It dominated the agenda for the episcopal synods over which Pope Paul VI presided. The contrasting images are clear. The first-world churches favored evangelization, that is, the freedom to preach the gospel in word and sacrament. The third-world churches looked to humanization as the task of the church, that is, to improve the quality of life, especially of the poor and oppressed, so continuing the mission of Jesus. Pope Paul VI offered a resolution to the question by affirming that the essential mission of the church is evangelization, but that it is closely linked in many ways with humanization.” In any case, this was the framework in which John Nelson developed his teaching art.

John Nelson’s own background was in theology, which he had studied for four years under a superb line-up of professors at Woodstock College MD. His subsequent doctoral studies at Fordham University focused on the theology of the Church. In many ways his theological expertise was a continuing presence and influence on the theological side of the GSRRE’s offerings, even though he himself moved more and more into religious education as such, particularly that of adolescents. For 40 years he taught foundational and advanced courses to GSRRE students whose ministry would focus on adolescents in a plurality of settings, serving as well as their principal mentor. A former colleague points out another aspect of his teaching: “Many students say they learned as much about how to teach from his classes as they did about the what and why of ministering to the young.” He would try to give his graduate students helpful images to enable them to maneuver in their future professional roles: “Being a lay leader, as a catechist or religious educator, has been like crossing a body of water in a sailboat rather than in a rowboat. With a rowboat, we can set our sights on a destination on the far shore and head directly toward it by pulling evenly on both oars or by adjusting our rowing according to wind, tide, and current. Ideally, we make our way in as straight a line as possible. With a sailboat, it often makes better sense to take advantage of these same winds and run with them for a while, even though they may threaten to lead us too far off course. Then either because of wind or tide or current shifts, we recognize we are getting farther off course than is wise, we use sail and rudder to tack in a different, a balancing direction.”

His own research over these years centered on adolescent moral and faith development in the light of adolescent psychology. Or let’s say he reflected on any human experience that had particular meaning for growing adolescents. He examined the role of literature in teaching religion, or the place of visual and other teaching aids, or religious education in the context of worship, or the impact of media. He was acutely conscious of the fact that religious education would zig and zag depending on issues boiling up with in the Church itself -- ethical controversies, debates over dogma or this or that tug-of-war about the nature and mission of Christian community. He was not unaware that religious education itself was being tested in the course of these developments. As he wrote in 1985: “Over the last ten years, many religious educators have moved away from schooling models of any kind. They feel that religion is caught more than taught, that contact is more important than content, that faith is shared mainly through formal and informal socialization. Thus we have seen an increase in family programs, in parish renewal programs and in programs based upon the dynamics of the RCIA. In parish youth ministry, for example, the ideal is to be holistic, that is, to take in account all dimensions of working with young persons, including all the catechetical; yet in practice what has dominated are non-schooling models such as group activities and weekend-away programs. All this is having positive results, and there seems no great advantage in turning back the clock to again allow dominance of schooling models. Yet we are paying a price for de-emphasizing the taught dimension in religious education. We risk a widespread illiteracy among Catholics about what they share with other Christians and what is distinctive in their own tradition.”

Along the way, he and his wife Catherine Zates Nelson were General Editors of new high school religion series put out by W.H. Sadlier. John authored two of them, Moral Growth and Catholic Christianity and edited many others. His wife, an extremely creative religious educator herself, was with him every step as commentator, resource and loyal critic for his enormous output in the classroom and in his writings. Besides the high school series, Sadlier also put out a junior high school series. John Nelson wrote two of its volumes as well, Coming to Jesus, and Coming to the Catholic Church. They proved so durable that John Nelson would be revising them over a 20-year period. It goes without saying that his expertise had him lecturing and teaching all over the place – in the USA as well as in Canada, Ireland, Australia and India.



Photo of Joseph Novak

After his Jesuit course of studies -- mainly in the classics, literature, philosophy and theology -- Joseph Novak was assigned in 1959 to teach language and religion at McQuaid Jesuit High in Rochester, New York. His road into the future was academically wide open, but it very quickly took on a defining direction when his brother and fellow Jesuit, Vincent, who was teaching religion at Fordham Prep in New York City, contacted him and a younger Jesuit, John Nelson, asking them to join with him in the task of composing fresh religious textbook material. It would require them to prepare themselves for the task by attending the Lumen Vitae catechetical study program in Belgium for a year.

In the early and mid-1960s, the kerygmatic approach was becoming very popular both in Europe and in the United States. It used Scripture to illustrate the Christ-centeredness of salvation history, unveiled ways in which the liturgy retells in its way the same story, developed a theology that could explain the issues and patterns that keep recurring in that story, and connected all that with the theme of Christian witness.

Incorporating this approach in the Lord and King High School Religion series, Vincent Novak authored the ninth-grade book on scripture, Jesus Christ, Lord of History. Joseph Novak helped on Vincent’s next book on liturgy and personal morality for the grade-ten student text and teacher’s guide, Jesus Christ Our Life and Worship. John Nelson did the eleventh-grade text on the Church and its doctrinal beliefs, The Church: The People of God. Joseph Novak authored a twelfth-grade text on states of life and gathered a set of readings on social issues, Christian Witness: Response to Christ. The series swept the country.

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, the person-centered spirit of Lumen Vitae and its kerygmatic premise was in full force at what was then the Graduate Institute of Religious Education. But developments were underway. In 1968 Joseph Novak began doctoral studies at the Institut Catholique in Paris. His thesis would be entitled The Theological and Catechetical Dimensions of Small Group Theory and Experience. His first director suggested that he’d best get some up close experience of group work, so he attended a series of intense two-week conferences sponsored by the Tavistock Institute in London which introduced him to the mysteries of group dynamics. The task of those conferences was to provide people with the opportunity to examine their own experience in a group, especially around issues of power, authority and leadership. Consultants on hand would explore behaviors in the group that might be relevant to that exploration. He found himself learning from such illustrious professionals in the field of group relations as Eric Miller, Canon Herrick, A.K. Rice, Pierre Turquet, Canon Richard Herrick, Jean Hutton, Canon Bruce Reed, W. Gordon Lawrence, Margaret Rioch and Denis Rice. That experience would inspire the next phase of his doctoral research and, more significantly, shape his whole approach to educating religious educators.

In terms of his research, he organized a weekend conference for a small group of high school seniors (six young men and six young women) conducted along the lines of a Tavistock small group experience. This conference provided him with rich material for his thesis, showing the theological and catechetical dimensions that emerge when the participants have no other agenda than to look at their behavior as it is happening in the group.

Under his inspiration, the school’s concern for the development of the human person would now be expanded to include persons in groups. And why not? As a religious educator, he saw a world opening up. His students would be spending whole careers as part of a group -- as campus ministers, youth ministers, faculty members, directors of religious education in parishes, members of liturgy teams, or of outreach programs, or pastors, and so on. Why not prepare students to address situations they faced or would face out there in the real world, without having to end up taking things so ‘personally’ all the time amidst the ups and downs of group encounters that they would lose all reference to the organizational ‘roles’ they were carrying?

During the years following at Fordham as a faculty member in the Graduate School of Religion and Religious Education, he introduced these issues of authority, power and leadership into the School’s regular curriculum through seminars under his direction. These seminars always began with a weekend Tavistock conference and continued throughout the semester with reflective analysis of that experience and discussion of ways in which the learning realized therein might be of service to them in their apostolic work of religious education.

The seminars treated all aspects of group theory, e.g. patterns of behavior around issues of dependence/independence, climate of trust, gender, age, nationality, race, collusion, silence, seating, etc. The conferences had followed the traditional Tavistock plan of small group, large group, inter-group, application group and opening/closing plenary events. The different seminar members researched one or other of these areas and then made a presentation to the group. A consistent thread was to refer back to their own conference experience to see whether these patterns of behavior took place there and might therefore help them to interpret what their experience had been and how it might relate to their future role as religious educators. There was no shortage of readings for students to underpin their reflections.

Opportunity was also provided for seminar members to lead, under supervision, small groups of high school students who were studying religion. That role might sharpen the seminar members’ awareness of underlying issues that were affecting the way in which their own seminar discussions were proceeding.

These conferences and seminars were conducted each year that Joseph Novak was actively on the faculty, especially from 1975 to 1982. For the conferences, he was able to secure the services of several of the above mentioned professionals from the Tavistock Institute in London, most notably Margaret Rioch, Denis Rice, Pierre Turquet and Canon Richard Herrick, but also members of the American offshoot of the Tavistock Institute, the A.K. Rice Institute, regularly took part in these conferences: David Singer, Ph.D., Larry Gould, Ph.D., Beatrice Foster, M.D., Zeborah Schactel, Ph.D., Ruth Newman, Ph.D., Nancy French, R.N., Kathleen White, Ph.D. George McCauley, S.J., D. ès Sc. Rel., Roger Shapiro, M.D. and Lars Lofgren, M.D.

Another application of the methods employed in these group relations conferences can be seen in an event sponsored by the Graduate School of Religion and Religious Education in 1977 entitled “A Working Symposium: Women and Authority”. It was led by Zeborah Schactel, Ph.D. from City University of New York. For its day, this was a step forward in the Church’s exploration of the role of women, especially with regard to issues of authority and leadership in the Church.

The following year the School co-sponsored, along with the Center for Education in Groups and Organizations, the Berkeley Center of the Yale University Divinity School and the the Alban Institute, a residential conference that provided an opportunity for participants to look at the ways in which they project their dilemmas in dealing with group dynamics onto religious language or use religious language not for what it might actually be saying but to alleviate feelings of being lost or demeaned or emotionally starved in the group. The director of the conference was a woman, Nancy French, R.N.

In addition to his work at Fordham University, Joseph Novak was engaged for several summers on the staff of group relations conferences sponsored by the Columban Fathers of Ireland and conducted at the Columban Seminary in Navan, Ireland. The membership of these conferences consisted of missionary personnel, priests, religious and laity, and they explored the theme of Faith and Mission from the insights gained through the “here and now” experience of their group interaction.

Addendum: Joseph Novak passed away on Sunday, Jan. 10, 2010, at Montefiore North Hospital in the Bronx, at the age of 82.


The young Vincent Novak commuted to Xavier High School in New York City, where he was a top student and, at 6 foot 7 inches tall, a formidable athlete. Upon graduating in 1942, he entered the Society of Jesus (Jesuits). A 15-year period of religious formation and an intense course of study in literature, philosophy and theology would follow, interrupted only by a 3-year stint of teaching in a Jesuit high school in Buffalo. Ironically, he did not teach religion there!

When his regular course of studies was over, he was sent to teach religion at Fordham Prep in the Bronx. He soon became unhappy with how religion was being taught in the high schools of the New York Province of the Society of Jesus. Its method was mainly a question-and-answer catechesis or a teacher-centered lecture. Vincent Novak voiced his dissatisfaction to his Jesuit superiors. They responded with a mandate to produce something better. He began by pursuing a program at the Lumen Vitae International Center for Catechesis in Brussels, Belgium, where religious education was taking on an entirely new look along scriptural and liturgical lines. Vincent Novak helped introduce that new look to these shores. He became editor-in-chief of the Lord and King high school religion series. He authored two of its student texts: for ninth grade, Jesus Christ, Lord of History (1962), and for tenth grade, Jesus Christ, Our Life and Worship (1963).

That series would in turn yield something new -- a person-centered focus on assessing who exactly you were teaching and how would you teach them religion. The market for this focus proved to be there, as indicated by Summer Institutes Vincent Novak and two other Jesuits (his brother, Joseph, and John Nelson) offered in 1962-1963 at Fordham, each of which drew 1,200 people. So in 1964 they established an Graduate Institute of Religious Education (in the Graduate School of Education) at Fordham University, to meet the demand. It held a three-day high school religion teachers institute in August, 1965, which featured top-flight scholars and drew great crowds, thus becoming a feeder for the GIRE’s regular program. Eventually that Institute became the independent Graduate School of Religion and Religious Education (GSRRE), whose message Vincent Novak would take on a wide lecture and recruiting schedule in the years to come.

As this person-centered focus sharpened in the late 1960s and into the 1970s, Vincent Novak replied to the concerns and opportunities it raised by increasing course offerings that drew on disciplines like education, sociology, psychology and counseling, while continuing to acknowledge a place of honor for theology, the scriptures and the worship of the faith community. He himself had taken time off to do a doctorate in theology at the Gregorian in Rome. His thesis: Some Trends of Theology in the Missouri Synod and their Impact on Catechetical Goals. (His ecumenical openness perdured. He encouraged associations with faculty and administration at General Theological Seminary, Jewish Theological Seminary, St. Vladimir’s Theological Seminary, Union Theological Seminary and the Blanton-Peale Institute; and he introduced Protestant scholars like Iris Cully and Robert Lynn to Fordham’s Graduate program.)

The course offerings during this period marked, as might be expected, a deeper probing of the adolescent’s make-up, issues, moral dilemmas and gifts. But teaching adults how to educate adolescents unmasked a need to also probe what adults themselves needed if they were to be religiously educated religious educators. Vincent Novak also welcomed his brother’s exploration of the group processes that influence the success or failure of religious education structures.

Already in 1975, he was aware of changes in the offing (see bibliography): “What are the types of careers to which graduate students most enthusiastically relate? The answer to that question is itself an indicator of directions in the American Church. Many, perhaps still a slight majority, will return to or take up teaching positions in Catholic elementary and secondary schools; but their number is declining. There is a growing disagreement with the bishops’ last-ditch support of parochial education, which many feel exhausts badly needed re­sources for other more pressing concerns like adult education, home and community catechesis, and a variety of spiritual ministries. There is a preference, therefore, for parish-based ministry rather than school-centered, for work on secular college campuses as well as traditionally Catholic, for missionary effort in neglected rural areas and urban environments where minority communities struggle to survive. Diversification is the trend of the day, and the challenge of the American graduate school is to provide training for all these apostolates which graduate students see as future careers.”

So, special constituencies like campus ministry and women’s issues, peace and justice, young adult ministry and pastoral counseling were also addressed during this period. A non-degree program was set up for the many smart people connected with religious education who, without a college degree, could not be accepted in the Masters program. Another was established for leaders in the Hispanic community. It was also becoming clear that many GSRRE’s graduates were earmarked for leadership roles out there in the world. So in 1977, the GSRRE and Fordham’s Graduate School of Education at Lincoln Center formed a joint Ph.D. in Church Leadership (Administration and Supervision). Moreover, the demand of pastoral ministers and religious educators for a spirituality that suits our changing and more and more cross-cultural times accounted for the introduction of a program in spirituality and spiritual direction.

To navigate all these changes, Vincent Novak had to continually draw on his particular talent of reading a situation critically yet sympathetically, of listening and consulting, of assessing the extent to which what he was hearing was something the school should work to change, and of calculating whether or not it had the resources to make a difference. And when he saw his way, he had a dogged approach to finding just the right faculty to get the job done. A list of these faculty members over the years would contain names well-known to other religious education professionals both here and abroad, several of whom appear in this series.

Addendum: Vincent M. Novak, S.J. passed away on August 6, 2012, at the age of 88. He was buried at the Jesuit Cemetery in Auriesville, N.Y.

Contributions to Christian Education


His total honesty in observing and discerning trends in religious education would be remarkable enough. His energetic and versatile approach to the question of the religious education of adolescents forms a body of knowledge not matched all that widely. But something more was going on. Looking back, he describes with a telling image his self-understanding as a religious educator whose task was to form other religious educators: “I saw myself as a combination adoption agency and midwife. I functioned as adoption agency in that I invited students freely to make their own the insights and ideas that other thinkers have already brought to birth. Lectures aimed to present the wisdom of my discipline in the clearest and most appealing light. Bibliographies put students in contract with key writers in the field. Guided course papers were intended to make sure that students read and understood and made their own the mental offspring of the best minds on a topic.

As a midwife, I tried to assist students as they give birth to the thoughts of their minds and the values of their hearts. Sometimes birth is painful yet the issue is joyful. This midwifery took place by my helping students to internalize and to personalize what they were studying. Their receptivity to books and lectures hopefully was active and creative through critical reflection, discussion and composition. The end term of our combined efforts was to enable each student to claim; ‘This I know, this I value, this is my own’.”

If that’s what his numberless students were able to convey in their professional roles as religious educators to their own students, then John Nelson’s contribution to the field becomes perfectly clear.



That Joseph Novak could mount a program that would win the trust of such large numbers of religious educators that they would take part in the enormously demanding Tavistock conferences and would dare explore its implications for their professional lives was almost a miracle. The culture of those conferences could be disorienting: a mysterious consultant asking you in a distant voice why you were behaving the way you were — wild goose chases, jockeying for emotional space, playing dumb, making pacts and then selling your partners out, the investing of some with omnipotence, the scapegoating, the puzzled self-immolations, the spooked herd syndrome, the de-skilling, the uncontrollable rumors, the gender games, the cliques offering grotesque caricatures of a more honest differentiation, the fantasies of repression and exclusion, the bickering and mishearing, the deals, the mental blanks, the outright denial, the red herrings, the inability to see any common task afoot, and, above all, beating up the consultant and then praying he or she would be there to rescue you. Learning that there is more to taking up a role than naively assuming your job description is all you have to know about can be scary. And where your job description has you talking about God, Jesus, Spirit, Church, prayer, preaching, sacraments, grace and faith and doing so on behalf of groups or to groups, some sophistication about the dynamics involved is an invaluable resource.

The secular staff’s reactions to religious students in these conferences were illuminating. One brilliant Jewish staff member from Columbia University once told Joseph Novak, “Joe, I only wish I could be as open and willing to look into the possibility of the truth of religious beliefs as your people were in their willingness to look at the possibility that it all wasn’t true.” Somewhere in there, there’s a lot of wisdom about religious education as such.

Joseph Novak had to leave this enormously productive work in 1984, when he became the top administrator of the New Province of the Jesuits and later was called on to lead one Jesuit community after the next. But he left a battery of former GSRRE students -- in ministries and high positions across the board -- who credit his brave work for their own ability to navigate the institutional and organizational aspects religious education with insight, skill and staying power.



In a sense, then, the GSRRE under Vincent Novak’s leadership was able to educate thousands of religious educators by first educating itself -- administration and faculty -- to the world’s changing needs. It has kept changing and growing, not only in numbers but in the different kinds of people who pursue its degrees, as illustrated in the course offerings described above. The student body itself has always been decidedly international -- early on students from abroad mainly from Australia and the United Kingdom; nowadays they are more likely to be native Africans, Asians and Eastern Europeans.

‘Religious education’ entails the inevitable nuts and bolts of effective administration. For Vincent Novak, that meant justifying his School’s existence with successive University administrations and squeezing out office space or hiring faculty slots or program start-ups at endless meetings. It meant finding money for scholarships. His chance meeting with a passing Bishop, for example, led to an arrangement with the Extension Society that sent an average of six students a year to the School for decades at a cost of  two million dollars. That figure keeps growing; the students keep coming. It meant getting money to subsidize housing for students who needed help in that area. It meant pursuing various levels of accreditation and certification with the State Board of Education. In this regard, he moved forward a new Ph.D. in Religious Education program that began accepting candidates in 2000. It meant taking time on occasion for his own renewal as a Visiting Scholar at the University of California, Los Angeles. It meant taking regular soundings of which way things were going in the job markets his students would be faced with. As the school population became more international, it meant mastering the mysteries of visas and entry permits. Lastly, it meant juggling the talents and special interests of a crack faculty involved in the school’s rich mix of programs.

Small wonder that Fordham University marked his retirement with an honorary doctorate for long and distinguished service. At his retirement ceremony, Fordham President Joseph McShane, S.J., presented him with a plaque that well and fairly describes why he is included among a prestigious list of Christian Educators of the 20th Century:

“On this first day of May, in the year two thousand four, we honor Vincent M. Novak, S.J., as he retires as Dean of Fordham University’s Graduate School of Religion and Religious Education. We praise and thank Dean Novak for forty years of leadership in what is now Fordham’s GSRRE; for pioneering fresh theory and practice in religious education; for developing new programs in spirituality and pastoral counseling; for recruiting faculty eminent in their disciplines; for attracting qualified graduate students worldwide; for bequeathing to future generations a sound, respected program.”

In retirement he enjoys the occasional Visiting Scholars Appointment at UCLA Los Angeles, where he is working on the Jesuits’ role in the 16th century religious renewal in the Catholic Church. He continues parish ministry, serving as a full-time Associate Pastor at Corpus Christi Parish, Pacific Palisades, California, when he is at UCLA.



The Church: The People of God (textbook for llth grade in the Lord and King series, NY: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1967)


Author or co-author for the following 7th and 8th grade texts for W.H.Sadlier:

Jesus Christ, 1972

He Lives, 1978

Together In His Name, 1979

Be My People, 1979

Called To Be, 1979

Rejoice in the Lord, 1980

Growing with the Catholic Faith, 1985

Growing with the Catholic Church, 1985

Coming to the Catholic Faith, 1989

Coming to the Catholic Church, 1989


Author or co-author for the following senior high texts in the Journey in Faith series for W.H.Sadlier:

Moral Growth: A Christian Perspective, 1981

Lifestyles: Shaping One’s Future, 1981

Catholic Christianity: A History of the Church, 1983

(Editor for these three and the eight other senior high texts in the Journey in Faith series)


Co-author of:

“One Church Under the Pope,” New York Sunday Morning, Aug.-Sept., 1995, vol. 6, no. 1, pp. 3-4,12.

Mindsets for Adolescents: Religious and Otherwise. A partial review of studies on adolescents published from 1980 through 1987, Naugatuck, CT: CYMD, 1988.


Author of:

“In the Between: Reflections on Educational Institutions and Communities of Faith,” chapter 11, Called & Chosen: Toward a Spirituality for Lay Leaders, ed. Zeni Fox and Regina Bechtle, NY: Sheed & Ward, 2005.

Faith Among Adolescents,” The Way, 1997.

“Faith Development in Early Adolescence,” in Early Adolescent Ministry, edited by J. Roberto, New Rochelle, NY: Don Bosco, 1991.

Sexuality and Adolescents: Models and Questions. New Rochelle, NY, Don Bosco Multimedia, 1990.

“Creative Tensions in Religious Education Today,” Living Light, 1990.

“Faith and Adolescents: Insights from Psychology and Sociology,” in Perspectives on Catholic Identity, New Rochelle, NY,: Don Bosco, 1989. (The original article was written in 1985, please see listing below.)

“Good Religious Education: Healthy Tensions in the Church,” Church, 1985.

“Research on Adolescent Moral and Faith Development, Journal of Youth Ministry,” 1983.

“Mindsets: A Way of Talking About Catholic High School Teachers,” in The Catholic High School Teacher: Building on Research, Washington, DC: NCEA, 1987.           

“Research on Adolescent Moral and Faith Development,” in Readings in Youth Ministry, Volume I: Foundations, Washington, DC; NFCYM, 1986.

“Faith and Adolescents: Insights from Psychology and Sociology,” in Faith Maturing: A Personal and Communal Task, Washington, DC: NFCYM, 1985.

“Catechesis in a Future Tense,” New Catholic World, 1980s.

“The Zigs and Zags of Catechetics,” New Catholic World 1980’s.

“Media and Catechesis, New Catholic World, 1980’s.                                  

“An Agenda for Sharing,” 1979.

“Glory Be to God for a Dappled Church,” New Catholic World, 1973.

A book in progress, Adolescents and Young Adults: Literature and Social Sciences in Conversation, is currently with Paulist Press.


Funded Research

Helping Adolescents Grow Toward Christian Moral Maturity, Raskob-Loyola Mindsets for Adolescents: Religious and Otherwise, Lilly Foundation.

Relational Identity Among Middle Adolescents, Lilly Foundation.

Awarded a Faculty Fellowship for Spring 1993 to do a research project on empathy and adolescents.


Distinguished Appointment

1997-98 Post Retirement Lecturer, announced 11/31/96 by the Vice President for Academic Affairs in the name of the President of Fordham University.


Addresses and Workshops

One of three presenters in the Princeton Theological Seminary Institute for Youth Ministry, 1/11-1/3/95. Presentation title: “Issues Pressing the Church from Youth.”

By invitation of the bishops of India, was the sole presenter at an 8 day (21 sessions) Youth Ministry Institute in Bombay, India [February 1993] on adolescent development with attention to adolescents and empathy. The institute was sponsored by the bishops for people in leadership positions with regard to youth ministry in India.

Addresses and workshops on topics related to the Catechism of the Catholic Church’s ecclesiology, christology, view of religious education and of the faith and moral development of adolescents. These addresses and workshops took place mainly in the United States but some were given in Australia, Bermuda, New Zealand and Puerto Rico.



“Religious Education Abroad” in The Catholic Educational Review, Dec., 1959.

“The Kerygma in Religious Education” in The Catholic School Journal, April, 1960; later reprinted in Guide (A Publication of the Paulist Institute for Religious Research), Jan., 1962.

“How Best ‘Implant’ Morality?” in The Catholic Educator, 1960; later reprinted in Guide, Nov., 1962 and Dec., 1962.

“Aims and Methods of the New Catechesis”, with Mark Link, in America, July, 1965.

“Whither American Catechesis?” in Catholic School Journal, June, 1966; later reprinted in Guide, Nov., 1966.

“A Report on Some Trends in Religious Education and Graduate Studies in the United States” Lumen Vitae vol. XXX, 1975

Author Information

George McCauley, S. J.

George McCauley, S.J. is a magazine editor and designer as well as a small press publisher ( He taught theology in Fordham’s Graduate School of Religion and Religious Education for many years, where he published, among other works, Sacraments for Secular Man, The Truce of God, Kingdom Come, Prayer and Worship (with Gloria Hutchinson), The Unfinished Image and The God of the Group. He later wrote five books of poetry (and musical backgrounds for two of them) and, most recently, a theological novel called Eddie’s Dream.