By Harold Daly Horell
THOMAS (TOM) H. GROOME (1945 -- ) is a prominent Christian religious educator and post-Vatican II Catholic educator, nationally and internationally. Groome is best known for his Shared Christian Praxis/Sharing Faith approach to religious education. He is also recognized for making significant contributions to practical theology. Groome’s abilities as a teacher and presenter are widely recognized.
Early Life and Education
Thomas Henry Groome was born September 30, 1945 in Dublin, Ireland. He is the youngest of the ten children of Terence and Margaret (nee Flood). His siblings in order of birth are Terence (Ted), Conleth, Anna Mae (who died in infancy), Kieran, Bernard, Margaret (Peg), Maureen, Austin, and James. Terence Groome was a farmer and local politician who from 1916 to 1923 was involved in the Irish revolutionary movement and War of Independence (sometimes called the Anglo-Irish War). Groome writes that his father gave him “a fire in the belly for justice and liberation.” He remembers his mother as a person of “deep compassion for people in need of any kind” who sparked his own commitment to “the works of compassion.” The values instilled in Groome were affirmed by his siblings, especially Austin, who like his father served in politics, and Peg, a mother and grandmother who embodies deep commitments to family, faith, and social justice. Groome decided at an early age that he, like his brother Bernard, would become a priest. Additionally, Groome’s family, especially his grandparents, taught him the art of storytelling – an art that is central to his teaching (Groome, 2011a, 9-11, quotes from 11; see also Groome, 2003, 511-13). (In addition to the sources cited, biographical information about Groome throughout this entry comes from telephone conversations with him on August 8, 2014, and June 15, 2015.)
Groome was raised in a close knit Irish village that was deeply steeped in Catholicism. He attended the Salesian run St. Don Bosco high school seminary in Ballinakill, Co. Laois from 1957 to 1959. He then transferred and in 1962 completed his secondary education at Belcamp College, Dublin, which was sponsored by the Oblates of Mary Immaculate. From there he went to St. Patrick’s College and Seminary in Carlow, Ireland; earning the equivalent of a Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy in 1964, and the equivalent of a Masters of Divinity degree in 1968. While at Carlow Groome was deeply formed by his study of the bible, learned Thomistic approaches to theology and philosophy, and studied the documents of the Second Vatican Council, which were released from 1962 to 1965. Biblical insight, Thomism, and the teaching of the Second Vatican Council have remained central to Groome’s thought from that time to the present. At Carlow Groome also met Kieran Scott, who began his own studies at Carlow the year before Groome arrived. They have enjoyed a lifelong colleagueship. (Scott also became a religious educator and now teaches at Fordham University in New York City.) Groome’s vocation as a religious educator emerged when he was doing a contextual education placement at Carlow as a religion teacher in a local boy’s high school, a placement that Groome embraced reluctantly at first (Groome, 2011a, 12-13; Groome, 2003, 513-14; Groome, 1980, xi-xii, which contains the fullest account the emergence of Groome’s vocation as a religious educator).
Thomas Groome was ordained at the Carlow Cathedral on June 8, 1968, for the United States Catholic Diocese of Dodge City, Kansas. His brother Bernard was at that time a priest serving the Diocese of Dodge City and Groome went to minister alongside him. While in Dodge City, Groome developed a religious education/catechetical program for the local youth and young adults. This work kindled a desire for further studies in religious education, which led him to enroll in 1971 at the Fordham University Graduate School of Religion and Religious Education (GSRRE). Groome graduated with a Masters in Religious Education degree in 1973. At Fordham, Groome studied with, among others, Kevin O’Shea, C.Ss.R. and James DiGiacomo, S.J. Groome notes that O’Shea was the Fordham professor who influenced him the most. It was in his classes that Groome encountered for the first time “a humanizing approach to Christian faith” that focused on promoting human flourishing (Groome, 2011a, 14-15, quote from 15; and Groome, 2003, 515). DiGiacomo, a pioneer in the development of new approaches to religious education and youth ministry in the post-Vatican II area, remembers Groome as one of his best students. “Groome and I taught each other,” DiGiacomo once commented (interview with DiGiacomo, August 8, 2011). Overall, the Fordham GSRRE provided Groome with the opportunity to further his studies of the Vatican II renewal and its implications for religious education.
C. Ellis Nelson invited Groome to apply to the joint doctoral program in Religion and Education at Union Theological Seminary and Columbia Teachers College in New York City upon his completion of his Fordham degree. Groome graduated from this joint program with his Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) degree in 1976. Groome’s doctoral studies focused on understanding the history and theory of the field of religious education, and its theological and educational underpinnings. Nelson served as Groome’s primary advisor at Union, while Dwayne Huebner was his primary adviser at Columbia. In studying with Nelson, Groome developed a fuller sense of the importance of religious socialization and how the practices and life of Christian communities form people in faith. Nelson also helped Groome to recognize how Christian communities can lead people to reflect on their lives and develop a sense of moral conscience (Groome, 2011a, 15; Groome, 2003, 515; see also Nelson, 1967).
Heubner was a leader in the Reconceptualist reform movement in education. His work was primarily in the areas of the philosophy of education and curriculum theory. He helped Groome develop an understanding of how educational processes must attend to three important factors: the dynamics and mystery of human growth, the social and political/public context in which that growth takes place, and the importance of attending to the transcendent and ultimately spiritual dimensions of life in order to foster full human growth and development (see Huebner, 1999). As a complement to Nelson’s influence, Huebner helped Groome to see more clearly the limitations of socialization approaches to religious education, and the importance of educating people to reflect intentionally on given social conditions in order to reconstruct them in more life-giving ways. Huebner also introduced Groome to the works of Paulo Friere and Jorgen Habermas – both of whom greatly influenced Groome’s sense of how educational processes can shape human awareness, interaction, and consciousness of the world (Groome, 2011a, 16, Groome, 2003, 515-17).
During his doctoral studies, Beverly Harrison at Union introduced Groome to feminist theologies and invited him to explore other liberation theologies as well. This led him to study the works of Latin American liberation theologians Gustavo Gutierrez (who was especially influential for Groome), Rubem Alves, Miguel Bonino, and Jon Sobrino, and black liberation theologians James Cone and James Deotis Roberts. His studies of liberation theologies enabled Groome to develop further his commitment to education for justice and understanding of religious education as an activity that can and should promote fullness of life for all people (Groome, 2011a, 15-16, Groome, 2003, 515-16).
Philip Phenix at Columbia chaired Groome’s dissertation committee. Phenix had expansive interests in mathematics, physics, philosophy, ethics, religions, and education. He inspired Groome to think broadly about the nature and scope of religious education (see Phenix, 1961 and Phenix 1966). The course with Phenix that influenced Groome the most was a course on world religions. Phenix challenged students to try to understand how the adherents of the great religious traditions of the world understood their own religious beliefs and practices, that is, to understand these traditions from the inside out, rather than to study them only as an impartial observer (Groome, 2011a, 16-17). In exploring the religioms of the world while studying at Columbia, Groome was deeply influenced by the work of Jewish philosopher and educator Martin Buber (on Buber’s influence see Groome, 1998, 13). During his doctoral studies Groome also studied the history of Protestant theology and the great Protestant theologians, including Karl Barth, Dietrich Bonheoffer, Paul Tillich, Reinhold Niebuhr, and H. Richard Niebuhr. Tillich’s understanding of faith as Ultimate Concern and Bonheoffer’s combining of confessional Christianity and a commitment to justice were especially influential in shaping Groome’s religious educational and theological outlook (Groome, 2003, 515).
As part of his doctorial coursework, Groome was able to take a number of courses at Woodstock Seminary, a Jesuit theologiate, including two courses with Avery Dulles. This enabled him to remain grounded in Catholic theology and to keep abreast of changes in the post-Vatican II Catholic Church (Groome, 2011a, 17).
A strong recommendation from Avery Dulles led Groome to be hired to teach at the Catholic University of America in Washington, DC. However, Groome stayed at CU for only one academic year (1975-1976). He then accepted a faculty position in Theology and Religious Education at Boston College. Groome has worked at Boston College since then, holding the rank of Professor from 1992 to the present. From 1976 to 2008, Groome was one of the faculty members of the Boston College Theology Department who worked out of the Institute of Religious Education and Pastoral Ministry (IREPM) (Groome, 2011a, 18). (The IREPM was founded as a summer institute by John R. “Jack” McCall in 1971 and was sponsored jointly by the Theology Department and the School of Education [McCall, 1971, 1]. The following year, 1972, it became a year round program with its own administrative staff. Faculty members hired for the Institute were given office space adjacent to the IREPM administrative staff members and worked collaboratively with them. However, IREPM faculty members were hired into the Theology Department faculty and were subject to Theology Department and Boston College Graduate School of Arts and Sciences personnel norms.) Groome served as Director of the IREPM from 2003-2008. The IREPM merged with Weston Jesuit School of Theology to form the Boston College School of Theology and Ministry (STM) in 2008. Groome maintained his faculty position in the Theology Department and also joined the STM faculty. Within the STM, the IREPM became the Department of Religious Education and Pastoral Ministry (DREPM), and Groome served as the Chair of the DREPM from 2008-2015 (Groome, 2015).
Maintaining his faculty status in the Theology Department and STM, in 2015 Groome became the director of the Boston College Church in the 21st Century Center (C21). Established in 2002, the mission of C21 is to foster critically constructive conversations about the issues the church must face in this century if it is to remain vibrant. Under Groome’s leadership C21 continues to address the four main issues it has focused on since its inception: handing on the faith (Groome’s favored focus); roles and relationships in the Church; sexuality in the Catholic tradition; and the Catholic intellectual tradition. Groome has also pledged to address the growing needs of the expanding Hispanic population in the church in the United States, the increasing gap between those with great material wealth and those living in poverty (using the teachings of Pope Francis as a guide), and the future of the Roman Catholic diocesan priesthood (Sullivan, 2015).
From his first days at Boston College to the present Groome has continued his own academic studies and education in faith. He took three courses with Catholic philosopher and theologian Bernard Lonergan, SJ in his early years at Boston College. Groome’s study of Lonergan’s theory of the dynamics of human knowing affirmed his own efforts to probe how learning experiences can foster reflection and action. (Groome’s most extensive discussion of Lonergan can be found in Groome, 1991, 485-6, chapter 4, note 19.) During this time Groome also studied the works of Lonergan’s student David Tracy, which affirmed his understanding of the importance of dialectical thinking (that is, correlating or integrating faith and lived experience) in a process of education in faith (Groome, 2011a, 18). Over the years Groome took a number of classes with Philosophy Department Professor David Rasmussen. This deepened his understanding of contemporary philosophy and, in particular, enabled Groome to develop a fuller understanding of the thought of Habermas. During his studies with Rasmussen, Groome discovered the work of Hans Georg Gadamer, which enhanced Groome’s understanding of how persons and communities can interpret and appropriate the insights of established traditions in life-giving ways (Groome, 2003, 516). Throughout his time at Boston College Groome has also been part of numerous scholarly reading groups. The most significant of these were a group on postmodern philosophy, focusing on the works of Michel Foucault, Jacques Derrida, and Emmanuel Levinas; and a number of groups exploring the literature on practical theology. In his reading of postmodern philosophy Groome was most attracted to Levinas’ notion of our responsibility as human beings to “the Other,” including both the neighbor and God as “Other” (Groome, 2011a, 21). One of the most significant faith and ministry formation experiences for Groome was a year-long study of the practice of spiritual direction at Mercy Center in Madison, Connecticut with Sr. Florence Trahan, RSM. Groome completed the spiritual direction course while he was on sabbatical from Boston College for the 1994-1995 academic year. In addition to deepening his understanding of the dynamics of faith formation, the discussions in the spiritual direction classes affirmed Groome’s conviction that all people, including those who have not had the opportunity to engage in the formal study of philosophy and theology, can learn to articulate their own spiritual wisdom based on a sense of God’s active presence in their lives.
Richard McBrien was the director of the IREPM when Groome arrived at Boston College in 1976. He was a significant mentor during Groome’s first five years at the school. McBrien left Boston College to join the faculty of theology at the University of Notre Dame, Indiana. Groome and McBrien maintained a collegial relationship until McBrien’s death in 2015 (Groome 2011a, 18). Teaching and scholarship are at their best dialogic and collaborative endeavors, and many of Groome’s other colleagues at Boston College have over the years also been important conversation partners, including James Fowler (who served on the faculty of the Boston College IREPM in 1975 and1976), Claire Lowery (who came to Boston College in 1975, served as an IREPM faculty member in Pastoral Care and Counseling, and who in her later years at Boston College served as Acting Director and then Director of the IREPM), Mary C. Boys (who taught at the IREPM from 1977 to 1994), Padraic O’Hare (who was responsible for overseeing all academic issues at the IREPM and who served as an adjunct faculty member in Theology and Religious Education from 1976 to1986), Maureen O’Brien (who was Associate Director of Academic Affairs and adjunct faculty member in Theology and Religious Education from 1987 to 1997), Mary Daly (who was a faculty member in the Theology Department when Groome arrived at Boston College and who retired in 1999) and Daniel Harrington (who chaired the Biblical Studies Department at the Boston College STM and with whom Groome worked collaboratively from the time of the creation of the STM in 2008 until Harrington’s death in 2014). The current permanent faculty members of the Boston College School of Theology and Ministry DREPM, with whom Groome continues to work closely, are Colleen M. Griffith, Theresa O’Keefe, Hosffman Ospino, Nancy Pineda-Madrid, and Jane Regan.
After seventeen years of ordained ministry, Groome left the diocesan priesthood with an official dispensation. He married Colleen Griffith on June 8, 1985. Griffith holds a doctorate in theology from Harvard University Divinity School, and has taught at Boston College since 1996. Groome and Griffith have a son Theodore (Teddy) Griffith Groome, who was born on January 4, 2001. Groome’s writings and presentations reveal that marriage and family life and his ongoing dialogue with Griffith have significantly shaped his theological outlook and approach to religious education.
In his dissertation at Union/Columbia TC Groome began to articulate a holistic approach to religious education that he calls Shared Christian Praxis, which will be discussed more fully later in this entry. He introduced this approach to the community of scholars in his first peer-reviewed publication in 1976 in the international journal Lumen Vitae (Groome, 1976; Groome, 2003, 516-17; Groome, 2011a, 19). Groome’s first book, Christian Religious Education (CRE) was published in 1980. CRE provides an account of the “what, why, where, how, when, and who” of Christian religious education (Groome, 1980, xiv). In doing so, it explores the theological and educational foundations of educating in Christian faith. The book also offers Groome’s first comprehensive articulation of Shared Christian Praxis.
From the time he began teaching at Boston College to the present there have been significant developments in Groome’s scholarly outlook. First, in the early 1980s he began to write about religious education in relation to pastoral ministry. When Groome arrived at Boston College the only degree program offered at the IREPM was a Master of Education in Religious Educaiton (MEd). In 1978 the IREPM began offering a Master of Arts in Pastoral Ministry (MAPM). From that time forward the IREPM had thriving degree programs in both religious education and pastoral ministry. As Groome responded to the needs and interests of students in these two areas of study, he began to teach and write about religious education in a more expansive way; in particular, he explored the interrelation between the educational ministry of the church and other forms of ministry. Goome’s understanding of the intertwining of religious education and pastoral ministry is expressed most fully in his second major book, Sharing Faith: A Comprehensive Approach to Religious Education and Pastoral Ministry. Drawing insight from his teaching and work as a curriculum developer (which will be discussed later), SF explores the philosophical foundations of Groome’s approach to Christian religious education and offers an in depth exploration of Shared Christian Praxis. SF also includes a discussion of Shared Christian Praxis as a style of ministry, and an analysis of the educational dimensions of liturgy and preaching, the church’s ministry of peace and justice, and pastoral counseling.
Second, Groome’s understanding of the religious or spiritual dimensions of education has expanded and deepened over the years. To begin, it is important to note that due to the influence of his home village and family Groome has always been attentive to the transcendent or spiritual dimensions of life. Then, during his graduate work Groome integrated a sense of the importance of attending to the transcendent into his approach to education. In discussing the transcendent in his early work Groome preferred using the term “religious” and he envisioned the religious dimension of life as being a universal aspect of human personhood. From a religious education perspective, Groome wrote: “If indeed all education is ultimately a reaching for transcendence and an expression of that human quest, all good education can be called religious” (Groome, 1980, 21). At the same time, Groome holds that the universal human quest for transcendence is always lived out within specific relationship with others, the world, and God. That is, it is lived out within some specific life context and often a specific religious tradition. Hence, Groome has always thought of himself as a Christian religious educator, and he identifies a Christian life context as the relational context of his religious outlook. Still, he recognizes that he shares “a common quest and bond with all religious educators,” especially “Jewish religious educators” but also “Buddhist, Muslim, and other religious educators” (Groome, 1980, 25) who also attend to the religious dimensions of life in an intentional way. As his thought developed, Groome began to use the terms “spiritual” and “spirituality” rather than the term “religious” to refer to the operative commitments that orient a person to the Transcendent while also grounding the person’s outlook on life in a specific life context. He has discussed spiritual formation as an intentional effort to orient people to the Transcendent, that is, toward a sense of ultimate meaning and value (see, for example, Groome, 1997).
Groome’s fullest discussion of spirituality, a spirituality of education, and spiritual formation is presented in his third major book Educating for Life. The subtitle of the book is A Spiritual Vision for Every Teacher and Parent, and the book seeks to outline a catholic or universal philosophy of education that can help all parents and other educators guide people to see their lives in the light of a sense of transcendent meaning and value. As such the book offers a humanizing approach to education. At the same time, Education for Life seeks to offer a specifically Catholic (capital C) philosophy of education. Groome claims that “every attempt to engage conversation with ‘neighbors’ must be ‘made from one’s own backyard’” (Groome, 1998, 16). Hence, Educating for Life mines the deep wisdom of Catholicism to share it with all who are interested in education in order to foster a mutually enriching conversation about the ultimate meaning and purpose of life.
Third, in further developing his approach to religious education and often in tandem with his explorations of spirituality and spiritual formation, Groome has also given increasing attention to issues of Catholic education. Specifically, Groome first began to focus intentionally on issues of Catholic education in the early 1980s when he became involved in the development of a basal religious education curriculum for Catholic schools and parishes. Then, in 1990 Groome was commissioned by the Catholic Bishops of Canada to write a position paper to support their challenge to a proposed law that would limit their efforts to ensure that those hired to teach in Catholic schools in Canada would have an open attitude toward a Catholic philosophy of education. Since that time, Groome has written over a dozen articles and book chapters on Catholic education. His most extensive discussion of Catholic education is in his fourth major book What Makes Us Catholic. The book is intended “for Catholics who span the spectrum: from the devout to the alienated; from radical reformers to defenders of the status quo” and strives to explore Catholicism’s “deep currents of faith and imagination” (Groome, 2002, xvii-xviii). Groome’s work on Catholic education and spirituality has expanded his religious educational outlook, leading him in particular to explore family religious education and Catholic schooling more fully.
Fourth, Groome’s explorations of practical theology have broadened his approach to religious education. When Groome came to Boston College, he was hired and later tenured within their Theology Department. He continues to hold a faculty position in that department and in the Boston College School of Theology and Ministry. Hence, throughout his time at Boston College Groome has had to be concerned with relating religious education to theology. To help him think about this relationship Groome took a course in 1981 with Johann Baptist Metz when Metz was a visiting professor at Boston College. The course explored the shift from an idealistic to a narrative and practical approach to theology (Groome. 2014b, 277-278). Building upon the insights of this course and subsequent studies in practical theology, Groome has sought to explore religious education as a form or sub-discipline of practical theology. There has also been an overriding concern in Groome’s discussions of practical theology with showing how the turn to practical theology should involve more than an effort to generate new theological insights (new content for the field of theology). Groome argues that practical theology must expand the nature, scope, and purpose of theological reflection if it is to move beyond being a specialized, academic field of study and become a mode of inquiry that informs and draws insight from the lived and living faith found in the everyday lives of persons and local church communities.
Groome’s most recent major book is Will There Be Faith? He describes it as the “capstone statement” of his work. The book outlines “an approach to religious education that can maximize the life-giving potential of Christian faith for persons, communities, and societies” (Groome, 2011b, 12). In terms of the development of Groome’s scholarly outlook, it is significant that he uses the word “faith” in the title and focuses on faith-education in the book. For Groome, faith is a broader term than either religion or spirituality. Faith includes religious or spiritual commitments or beliefs that orient a person to a transcendent sense of meaning and value. There is also a relational quality to faith; it is based on an ability to trust (that is, enter into trusting relationships with) self, others, and God and to trust that the communities of which one is a part can be life-giving and life-sustaining places to dwell. Groome also emphasizes that faith grounds a person’s outlook in the present realities of everyday life and provides a foundation for doing, that is, for making decisions in one’s life that express one’s faith or puts one’s faith commitments into action. (Groome’s foundational discussion of the meaning of faith is presented in Groome 1980, 57-66; it is re-presented and then developed more fully in Groome, 2011b, 25-28, 107-119.) (In numerous presentations I have heard Groome refer to faith as the salt that flavors everything [Matt. 5:13] and the leaven that raises up our lives [Luke 13:21].) Overall, Will There Be Faith? is Groome’s most comprehensive, holistic, and integrated statement of the educational ministry of the church. It provides guidance for educating Christians within families, parishes, and schools. At the same time it offers an apologetic or defense of faith in our increasingly secular age, based on the claim that education in faith, and Christian faith in particular, can provide an ideal starting point for any quest for fullness of life.
Finally, to provide a sense of Groome’s scholarly work as a whole, it can be noted that he has authored nearly 200 scholarly and popular articles and book chapters and seven books (including one with two co-authors), and edited four others books. There is also collection of Grome’s writings that was published as a book in Sweden.
Curriculum Development, Teaching, and Mentoring
In 1981 Ralph Fletcher, then-president of Sadlier, invited Groome to anchor the writing of a basal religious education curriculum for kindergarten to eighth grade for Catholic schools in the United States (Groome 2011a, 20). The curriculum Groome developed was published by Sadlier as the God with Us series and its publication was completed in 1985. Groome then produced another basal curriculum with Sadlier, the Coming to Faith series, which was completed in 1990. In 2007, Sadlier published two religion text books, We Live our Faith as Disciples of Jesus (for seventh grade) and We Live our Faith as Members of the Church (for eighth grade). Groome is the primary author of these texts, though the publisher does not list an author. Groome has also been the primary author or co-author of a few other specialized curriculum texts as well. Since 2011 Groome has been the anchoring author of a Catholic high school theology curriculum titled the Credo series, published by Veritas Publications.
During his first year at Boston College Groome served as a fourth grade volunteer catechist in a parish religious education program. Since that time he has served periodically as a catechist in local religious education programs. Throughout his time at Boston College Groome has taught both undergraduate and graduate students. At the undergraduate level Groome has offered required introductory courses in theology as well as more specialized and upper level courses. At the master’s and doctoral levels, he has taught foundational courses in religious education and more specialized courses in religious education, pastoral ministry, and practical theology. At the doctoral level, Groome’s primary commitment has been to teaching and mentoring students enrolled in the PhD in Theology and Education, sponsored jointly by the Boston College Theology Department in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS) and the Boston College Lynch School of Education, with the degree being awarded by GSAS. This doctoral program educates scholars for the interdisciplinary field of religious education. In total, Groome has served as the primary adviser for over 500 master’s degree comprehensive exam papers and been the primary advisor or a reader for over 40 doctoral dissertations. (While serving as director of the Church in the 21st Century Center, Groome remains the director of the PhD program in Theology and Education. He has been the senior faculty anchor for the program since it was created in 1977.)
Shared Christian Praxis
Central to Groome’s scholarship, teaching, and work as a curriculum developer is his Shared Christian Praxis approach to religious education. This approach involves a focusing activity and five pedagogical movements, which can be described as follows:
- Focusing Activity: In the focusing activity a symbol is presented (such as a song, poem, case study, picture or work of art, or Scripture story) to (a) raise up a generative theme (that is, an engaging theme that relates to people’s lives), (b) create a shared learning experience, and (c) draw participants into active conversation. (See Groome, 1991, 155-174.)
- Movement One: Naming or Expressing Present Praxis / Looking at Life: The key task is to invite participants to pay attention to and name their own praxis of the generative theme and/or to consider how the praxis of their local community relates to the generative theme. (See Groome, 1991, 175-186.)
- Movement Two: Critical Reflection / Thinking about Life: The key task is to invite participants to reflect on what is going on in their lives as it relates to the theme of the learning experience. “Critical reflection can engage people in any or all the activities of critical and social reasoning, analytical and social remembering, creative and social imagining.” (See Groome, 1991, 187- 214, quote from 187).
- Movement Three: Presenting and Representing Christian Story and Vision / Turning to Christian Faith Traditions: The key task is to share or make accessible the resources of Christian faith traditions as they relate to the theme. For Groome, Christian Story is "the whole faith life and practical wisdom of the Christian community that is congealed in its Scriptures, symbols, myths, rituals, liturgies, creeds, dogmas, doctrines, theologies, practices, spiritualities, expected life-style, values, artifacts, structures, and so on…. Vision is a metaphor for the possibilities and responsibilities, the promises and demands, that are prompted by the Christian community’s Story” (Groome, 1991, 113-114, and 115; see also 215-248).
- Movement Four: Appropriating the Truths and Wisdom of Christian Faith / Dialogue between Christian Faith Traditions and Life: “The pedagogy here is to stimulate and draw out what is really going on inside of people” in response to what has taken place in the previous movements (Groome, 2011b, 325). In Movement Four “participants ask: How does this Story/Vision affirm, question, and call us beyond present praxis? And conversely, How does present praxis affirm and critically appropriate the version of Story/Vision made accessible in Movement Three?” (Groome, 1991, 249-265, quote from 249).
- Movement Five: Making Decisions in the Light of Faith / Living our Faith More Fully: “Movement Five offers participants an explicit opportunity for making decisions about how to live Christian faith in the world.” Groome contends that decisions by participants “can be primarily or variously cognitive, affective, and behavioral, and may pertain to the personal, interpersonal, or social/political levels of their lives,” or they may be group decisions “made by the consensus of the learning community" (Groome, 1991, 266-293, quote from 267).
Groome refers to Shared Christian Praxis as a “life to faith to life approach” to religious education, noting that the core of this approach involves correlating and integrating life and faith into a lived and living faith. The approach begins with people’s everyday lives, and invites them to reflect on their lives in the light of faith – that is, to reflect on how their understanding of everyday life concerns is shaped by their faith commitments and what they regard as being of ultimate concern. The next movement of Shared Christian Praxis involves exploring the resources of faith traditions. The facilitator then brings the focus back to everyday life and invites people to consider how to take the wisdom of faith more fully to heart and to think and act more intentionally based on their faith or ultimate concerns and values. Groome also claims: “I am convinced that Jesus’ favored pedagogy was to lead people from life to faith to life-in-faith.” He notes that Jesus invited people to look at and think about their own reality as he talked about such everyday activities as “fishing, farming, homemaking, vine keeping.” He then preached the good news of God, the good news concerning faith in God, and “announced the in-breaking of God’s reign.” Finally, Jesus moved back to life and invited people to embrace freely a life as his disciple (Groome, 2014a, 123).
To understand Shared Christian Praxis one must have a clear sense of what Groome means by praxis and how he envisions a process of education focused on praxis. In Christian Religious Education he states: “praxis is purposeful, intentional, and reflectively chosen ethical action” (Groome, 1980, 152). A praxis process of education begins with an intentional focus on respecting persons as being capable of ethical action, and it strives to enable people to become more purposeful, intentional, and reflective ethical actors. It also engages all aspect of human personhood (including the body, intellect, will, emotions, and soul) and encourages people to strive to be fully engaged ethical actors in the world. So that learning environments are respectful of persons as persons, Groome claims, participants in educational activities must always be welcomed, included, treated justly and with compassion. In presenting his commitment to a praxis way of knowing, Groome also states that Christian religious educators should strive to educate for justice, but that they can only do so by educating justly, in particular, educating in ways that are respectful of persons as persons (Groome, 1983).
Overall, Shared Christian Praxis is a humanizing approach to religious education. It is based on the premise that designated teachers should strive to engage all aspects of human personhood in respectful and just ways (Movement One) and lead persons through a learning process that concludes with an invitation for them to develop a greater sense of their own agency as persons of faith (Movement Five). Groome is also attentive to how the realities of personal and social sin diminish and damage the world. However, he argues that while the image of God within each person may be diminished, it can never be totally destroyed. Hence, he contends that a process of faith education that invites persons, in respectful and just ways, to bring the praxis of their lives into dialogue with Christian faith (Movements Three and Four) will have the potential to nurture the good within persons and communities, and perhaps even enable them to be a transformative presence within the world (Movement Five). (For a discussion of Groome’s understandings of personhood and society, see Groome 1998 [Educating for Life], chapters 2 and 7.)
It is also important to note that the focus in Shared Christian Praxis is on persons, not individuals. In a learning encounter the focus is on persons and communities sharing their lives with one another and learning from and with one another, and not just on individual learners. Beyond this, Groome suggests that throughout a Shared Christian Praxis learning experience there should be a focus on helping persons name, reflect upon, and further develop their own sense of personally owned faith but that, at the same time, educators should invite them to recognize how their faith is situated within the historically-grounded faith of a faith community or tradition and a specific life context. As envisioned by Groome, the process of personal development is always both a process of self development over time and a process of social development within church and society. We develop as persons over time in relationship with one another and within a community of persons. Thus, to embrace Shared Christian Praxis, one must begin with a respect for persons as persons-in-relationship or persons-within-community. (As seen in the light of Groome’s personal and intellectual life journey or pilgrimage, Shared Christian Praxis is Groome’s personally owned and appropriated approach to religious education. Yet, Groome recognizes that this approach to religious education is grounded in the commitments to justice, liberation, and compassion that he learned from his parents, practiced in his family of origin, and was immersed within in the local church community in which he was raised. Moreover, Groome acknowledges that the approach has been refined within the many contexts, including the many communities of Christian faith, in which he has lived and worked.) On a broader level, Groome contends that because all educational activity has a social dimension, education is always political. It is political not in the sense of narrow, partisan politics, but in the sense that it involves creating a shared space for being together based on learner’s past histories, their understanding of present realities, and their sense of how they can move out into the world to contribute to a shared future for the common good of all (see Groome, 1980, 15-17).
There are several other key aspects of Shared Christian Praxis. To begin, Shared Christian Praxis is an intellectually rigorous and holistic educational approach that, when done well, is neither narrowly didactic nor overly subjective. According to Groome, Christian religious educators have a double mandate. On the one hand, they are to present or re-present the Christian Story faithfully around the theme of the learning experience. That is, as representatives of their church community they are to teach what the church teaches concerning the topic being explored. Christian religious educators are to present, as completely as possible, the faith of the church as the message of liberation and salvation in and through Jesus as the Christ. On the other hand, Christian religious educators should raise up the Christian Vision, the Vision of God’s call to all humanity to fullness of life for both the here and the hereafter (Groome, 2011b, 318-319). In raising up the Christian Vision, Christian religious educators can and should go beyond all narrowly didactic and transmissive modes of teaching by inviting people to imagine how their vision for their lives connects with the Christian Vision. Hence, the process of critical reflection on life begun in Movement Two should continue in Movement Three and, eventually, flow into Movements Four and Five.
The primary concern of the Christian religious educator in Movement Three is the ongoing development of the “identity and agency” of participants in the learning process (Groome, 1991, 217). However, educators should not focus on fostering a subjective sense of self-actualization or a purely personal spirituality. They should be concerned with how persons, as persons of faith, have access to and stand in relation to Christian Story and Vision. More concretely, religious educators should focus less on nurturing a quest for personal authenticity and more on enabling people to recognize their responsibility as people of faith to their neighbors (Groome, 2014a, 221; see also Groome 1998, 304-308). Additionally, religious educators should be concerned with helping persons understand and appropriate Christian faith more fully and be able to embody Christian faith more intentionally as members of faith communities.
In discussing the dynamics of Shared Christian Praxis in his later writings, Groome writes that Christian religious educators should teach about faith. Then they must go beyond this, he claims, to invite participants in a learning experience to learn from faith, and they should offer the possibility that people can learn to be people of faith more fully, that is, to embrace faith and specific religious convictions more fully. Groome draws the distinctions between learning about, learning from, and learning to be from the British religious educator Michael Grummit, using it to express foundational commitments he first formed while studying with Phenix at Union/Columbia TC (see Groome, 2011b; 6, 91-92). Groome also suggests that Christians and adherents of the other great religious traditions of the world can benefit by learning more about and learning from their own and other faith traditions, that is, learning about and from the stories or whole faith lives of various faith traditions. At the same time, Groome argues that people should strive to learn to be people of faith within their own religious tradition “so that its truth claims become meaningful in the context of their lives” (Groome, 2011b, 117-118).
As a holistic learning process Shared Christian Praxis should, Groome contends, engage head, heart, and hands/feet; cognition, affect, and will. It should focus on the personal, social, and even cosmological. It should invite people to reflect on how they can become more involved in their faith community and how they are called to contribute to the common good of society toward the building of God’s Reign. Additionally, from about the midpoint of his career onward Groome has contended that the “three key ‘agents’” of religious education, “the home, the parish, and the school or formal program of instruction” (Groome, 2011b, 13-14) must all be involved in collation with one another if a faith community is to educate in a holistic way. He also states that in order to develop fully, a faith education process must become “A Total Community Affair.” As Groome explains, “the key requirement for total catechesis is that every designated minister and then every Christian develop a ‘faith-education consciousness.’ This means being alert to maximize and take full advantage of the faith-education potential of every aspect of shared life and parish ministry.” (Groome, 2011b, 162-163). In essence, Groome suggests that the shared life of a faith community and family can become a process of Shared Christian Praxis that guides community members to understand and live their faith, personally and collectively, as fully as they possibly can.
Another key aspect of Christian Shared Praxis is that it is both grounded yet expansive (see Groome, 1999). Movements One and Two ground people in lived experience. Movement Three invites exploration of the resources of faith traditions. Through dialogue with these resources participants are led to be open to developing a more expansive sense of faith in Movements Four and Five. Yet, when looked at from another angle of vision, Movements Four and Five involve a return to a grounding in a specific faith community and tradition, although a person returns with a deeper, fuller sense of life and faith after having encountered Christian Story and Vision in Movement Three. In discussing Shared Christian Praxis, Groome has remarked that Movement Five brings us back to our faith with new eyes so that “we see as if for the first time” what God desires for us and enables us to be and do as people of faith (personal conversation with Groome, December 26, 2014, Niantic, CT). Thus, an effective Shared Christian Praxis learning experience may at times lead to a sense of conversion or renewal in faith on one or more levels – including the intellectual, moral, religious, affective, social, and embodied dimensions of life (see Groome, 1991, 130-131). (In striving to understand this aspect of Groome’s approach to religious education, it can be helpful to note that the dynamics of Shared Christian Praxis mirror Groome’s personal and professional life journey. Throughout his life his starting point has always been the core Christian faith commitments he learned in his Irish home and village, and he has always sought to remain grounded in these commitments. At the same time, to expand his sense of life and faith, Groome has engaged in a wide-ranging exploration of religious education, theology, education, philosophy, pastoral ministry, and spirituality.)
To understand Christian Shared Praxis, one must also consider Groome’s claim that the Reign of God is the meta-purpose or guiding vision of Christian religious education. As Groome explains, the Reign of God is “the realization by God’s grace in Jesus Christ of God’s vision of fullness of life for all humankind and the good stewardship of creation (Groome, 2011b, 255); it is “the realization of God’s intention of peace and justice, love and freedom, holiness and wholeness, and fullness of life for all humankind, here and hereafter” (Groome, 2011b, 292). Groome notes that Jesus preached the Reign of God as the central theme of his ministry (see Mark 1:15) and called all people to fullness of life (see John 10:10). Groome also claims that Christians are called as disciples of Jesus to carry on Jesus’ mission of welcoming and working to bring about the fuller realization of God’s Reign in their lives and world. Responding to this call is, according to Groome, at the heart of what it means to be a disciple of Jesus. Thinking in terms of Christian Shared Praxis, religious educators should provide opportunities for participants in a learning process to learn about Jesus’ proclamation of the Reign of God (Movement 3). They should also invite them to learn from this central symbol of Christian faith, that is, to consider how they can correlate the vision they have for their own lives with this central symbol and interpret the meaning of their lives in relation to this central symbol (Movement 3 into Movement 4). Finally, religious educators should invite people to consider how a deepened understanding of God’s reign can transform the ways they see and respond to everyday life issues and concerns (Movement 5).
The Heart of Groome’s Approach to Christian Religious Education
After exploring the movements and underlying convictions of Shared Christian praxis, we can ask: What is the heart or core of Groome’s approach to Christian religious education? Are there central themes upon which Groome’s approach to Christian religious education is built? In responding to these questions, it is helpful to turn first to Jack L. Seymour’s assessment of Groome. Seymour contends that Groome adopts “the interpretation approach” to Christian education. In describing this approach, Seymour writes: “the concern of an interpretation educator is to help persons understand their daily experience and hopes in the light of the story and vision which is available in Christian faith. Much attention is directed at assisting persons to come to awareness about the meaning they derive from daily experience and its meaning for understanding Christian faith” (Seymour, 1996, 9). According to Seymour, the interpretation approach to Christian education can help people address the crisis of meaning in contemporary culture and the difficulties people face today in striving to relate their faith to their everyday lives in a secularized society.
Offering a somewhat similar assessment of Groome’s approach to religious education, Michael Horan writes: “The shared praxis approach rests on the assumption that people can actually hear and appropriate the Word of God when that Word becomes effective in their lives. The Christian gospel, what Groome terms the ‘Story and Vision,’ is most alive and effective when it is in conversation with the story of people’s individual life of faith and communal life (Horan, 2015, 140). Hence, like Seymour, Horan claims that a shared praxis approach to religious education entails an effort to invite people to bring their daily experience into conversation with Christian faith so that they can hear, interpret, and appropriate core Christian convictions as they strives to develop a sense of the meaning of their lives.
However, according to Horan, at the heart of a shared praxis approach is the theme of mediation. As Horan explains: “The theme of mediation is present in the shared praxis approach to religious education. The shared praxis approach fosters awareness of the power of human action in the world; it helps its participants to consider their potency and agency to proclaim and promote God’s reign. Participants interrogate their own experience to discern whether and how human actions are aligned with the gospel and Jesus’s dream for a just world. Participants also consider whether and how human actions frustrate, postpone, or reverse that dream” (Horan, 2015, 145). Horan’s analysis uncovers an important aspect of Shared Christian Praxis. This educational approach is designed to go beyond interpretation. As a Shared Christian Praxis process unfolds it mediates persons and communities relation to the world. That is, it invites persons and communities to consider their ability, their potency and agency, to act within the world in the light of an understanding of God’s Reign through Jesus.
Horan’s assessment of Groome aligns to some degree with that of Harold W. Burgess. Burgess notes that Groome’s approach to Christian religious education “is sustained by his creative interaction with liberation theology” (Burgess, 1996, 230). Burgess adds that “Groome commonly, and consciously, employs the language of freedom as a way of discoursing about the conditions and consequences of living a life in tune with the values of the kingdom of God. Accordingly, that freedom together with its related terms, liberation and emancipation, may be ‘the most adequate words in our time for talking about the historical consequences and responsibilities for Jesus’ disciples of his life, death, and resurrection.’” (Burgess, 1996, 231, emphasis as in original, quote within the quote from Groome 1991, 22). In discussing how Groome’s approach to Christian religious education fosters “awareness of the power of human action” (Horan) and human freedom (Burgess), Horan and Burgess emphasize that Shared Christian Praxis aims at enabling people to recognize and overcome whatever diminishes their lives so that they can proclaim and promote or live in tune with Jesus’s dream/vision of justice and a sense of God’s Reign.
Building on the insights of Seymour’s, Horan’s, and Burgess’ discussions of Groome, it can be argued that at the core of Groome’s approach to Christian religious education is a threefold emphasis on 1) interpretation, 2) mediation, and 3) freedom/liberation. To begin, Shared Christian Praxis invites participants in a learning experience to interpret their life experiences in relation to a generative theme from Christian faith traditions with the aim of helping them develop a greater sense of the meaning and purpose of their lives. However, it goes beyond this to mediate the connection between persons and the world and persons and God with the immediate aim of inviting people to consider how God is present in their lives and in the world, and what God desires of them and enables them to be and do in their lives. Then, the ultimate aim of Shared Christian Praxis is to invite people to consider how responding to God’s call can lead to greater fullness of life and freedom for both the here and hereafter on both personal and communal levels of life.
To illustrate the core convictions of Shared Christian Praxis, we can think about how to structure a teaching and learning experience about the Trinity. If following Groome’s approach to religious education, we would not begin with a lecture on the biblical background of the doctrine of the Trinity, a historical overview of efforts to define the Trinity beginning with the Fourth Lateran Council, or a analysis of the economic and immanent dimensions of the Trinity – although these can all be regarded as important or even essential for understanding Christian church teaching on the Trinity. Rather, we would want to begin with a generative theme that relates to people’s everyday lives and that is central to understanding the Christian doctrine of the Trinity. For instance, we might begin with the theme of relationships and invite people to think about how they do, and think they should, relate to other people, and why. Then, we could introduce the theme of the Trinity by discussing how the Trinity presents a model for relationships, that is, how the Trinity reveals God as a relational God who provides a model for how we can and should relate to self, others, the world, and God. In the process of discussing the Trinity we could strive to present as clear and comprehensive account of the Trinity as possible while also inviting people to interpret their own relational lives in the light of an understanding of the Trinity. At this point Christians as well as people of other faith and philosophical convictions could be invited to move beyond learning about the Christian doctrine of the Trinity to think about how they could learn from this doctrine. As the interpretive process unfolded it could provide opportunities for people to reflect on the meaning and purpose of their lives from the perspective of their own faith convictions or ultimate concerns.
However, in order for a Shared Christian Praxis learning process to continue to unfold, it would need to go beyond this and return to focus fully on people’s own lives. It would need to move first to a focus on mediating the relationships among people and the world and people and God (and their understanding of God’s active presence in the world) or their sense of what is Ultimate or of transcendent value. Concretely, the learning process would need to invite people to consider how making changes in the ways they relate to other people and God can lead them to live better, fuller lives and enable them to make the best use of their talents and gifts in contributing to church and society. At the same time, the learning process would need to be guided by and culminate with a focus on how the Trinity could provides a model for how people can strive (by the grace of God) to overcome and be liberated from relationships that diminish life so that they can relate freely to other people and, from a Christian perspective, welcome and work to bring about the fuller realization of God’s Reign in their lives, faith community, local community, and broader world.
Beyond Boston College
In discussing Groome’s life and career it is also essential to discuss his public speaking beyond Boston College and the honors and awards he has received. In describing the beginning of his public speaking career, Groome writes, “In the spring of 1973, and before I even began doctoral work in religious education, Francoise [Darcy-Berube] was instrumental in having me invited to be a keynote presenter with her at the annual catechetical congress of the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown, PA.” Darcy-Berube was one of Groome’s professors at the Fordham University GSRRE. Groome describes this as his “first break” as a presenter (Groome,1995, xiv). Then, while a student at Union/Columbia TC Groome began to be invited to give presentations on religious education in both scholarly and pastoral arenas. During his time at Boston College, the number of speaking invitations Groome received increased after the release of Christian Religious Education and then again after the publication of the God with Us curriculum. As his areas of scholarly interest expanded Groome was invited to address issues of ministry and church life, Catholic education, spirituality, and practical theology as well as religious education and catechesis. Additionally, Groome has presented numerous times at the annual conferences of the Association of Professors and Researchers in Religious Education, the Religious Education Association, the Religious Education Association /Association of Professors, Practitioners, and Researchers in Religious Education, Catholic Theological Society of America, and the International Academy of Practical Theologians. At present Groome has given more than a 1,000 presentations for local, regional, national, and international audiences around the world. These include presentations at parishes, diocesan conferences and events, seminaries, colleges and universities, gatherings of vowed religious men and women, and professional academic meetings and conventions. Groome has also been the featured speaker at various symposia on religion education, ministry, and church life. Groome has been a major presenter at venues sponsored by Catholic, Protestant, ecumenical, and interreligious groups and organizations and his audiences have included bishops, priests and ministers, vowed religious, grade school and high school teachers and principals, paid professional and volunteer lay ecclesial ministers, and scholars in religious education, theology, education, and related areas. Groome’s presentations have also attracted people from many of the great religious traditions of the world.
Groome has given presentation throughout the United States and Canada, and around the world, including Australia, Ecuador, England, Hong Kong, Ireland, Jamaica, Korea, Lithuania, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Pakistan, Peru, Scotland, Sweden, South Africa, Taiwan, and Trinidad and Tobago. We can gain a sense of the broad range of national and international groups Groome has addressed by noting that he gave a lecture series for the Australian National Office for Catholic Education in 1980, and was the keynote speaker at the invitation of the United States Catholic Conference at the 1983 National Symposium on Adult Education in Washington D.C. In 1984 he gave keynote addresses at both the English National Symposium on the Adult Catechumenate in London, England, and the Methodist National Assembly on Adult Education in Dallas, Texas. In 1992 he addressed the National Symposium of the Greek Orthodox Church of North America at Hellenic College Holy Cross in Brookline, Massachusetts. In 1993 he offered a seven day lecture series for the Korean Council of Churches (Catholic and Protestant) and the Catholic Archdiocese of Seoul, and gave keynote addresses at both the International Colloquium on Catholic Education at Cambridge University, England, and the National Symposium on the Future of Ministry at St. Patrick Seminary, Ireland. In 1993 he was also the invitee for the Distinguished Scholar Program at Mennonite Seminary in Goshen, Indiana. In 2008 he gave a two day presentation at the National Symposium on Religious Education in South Africa.
Groome has the distinction of being the first Catholic to be invited to give the Robert S. Jones Lectures at Austin Presbyterian Seminary, Texas (1980). He has also given the John Calvin Payne Lecture at McCormick Theological Seminary (1981), Kendrick-Doersche Lectures at South Eastern Baptist Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina (1984), the Irwin Lecture at Claremont School of Theology (1989), the Brown Jay Lecture at Southern Baptist Seminary, Louisville, Kentucky (1989), the Fahs Lecture in religious education at the Annual Unitarian Universalist Convention (1992 and again in 2001), the Gerety Lecture at Seton Hall University, New Jersey (1998), the Hanley Lecture at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg (1998), and the Thomas More Lecture at Yale University, New Haven, CT (2003). Groome has also been a visiting lecturer at over forty college and universities worldwide.
Exercising leadership in the field of religious education, Groome was the president of the Association of Professor and Researchers in Religious Education in 1998-1999; served as a member of the editorial board of Momentum, the National Catholic Education Association journal (1985-86); was an advisory editor of Harper and Row’s Encyclopedia of Religious Education (1990); served as a member of the Centennial Committee of the National Catholic Educational Association (1997-2002); and served on the Excellence in Catechesis Committee of the United States Catholic Conference (1999 – 2000). Groome has also been on the editorial boards for both Religious Education and the International Journal on Religion and Education. In contributing to academic and pastoral leadership beyond religious education, Groome chaired the membership committee of the Catholic Theological Society of America (1988-1989), and was a member of board of trustees of the National Catholic Community Foundation (1998 – 2004). Groome was also one of the select scholars who served on the national advisory committee on religious issues for both Oboma presidential campaigns.
Honors and Awards
The W.H. Dinger Award for Religious Education was given to Groome in 1983. He was the recipient of the 1991 First Place Book Award on Education/Religious Education for Sharing Faith from the Catholic Press Association. Groome received the Distinguished Service Award from the National Conference of Catechetical Leaders in 1997, the Emmaus Award for Distinguished Leadership in Catechesis from the National Association of Parish Directors of Religious Education in 1999, and the Christian Culture Gold Medal Award from Assumption University, Windsor, in 2006. To recognize excellence in teaching, Groome was honored with the Master’s Teaching Award by the Boston College Graduate School of Arts and Sciences in 2008.
Contributions to Christian Education
Contributions to Christian Education
Thomas Groome has made important contributions to Christian education for over four decades. His most far reaching contributions have been as a curriculum developer and teacher. He has made a significant contribution to the development of post-Vatican II Catholic education. His work has also contributed to the field of practical theology, and he has helped both scholars and pastoral practitioners recognize that pedagogical issues are at the core of practical theological reflection. Groome’s most significant contributions to Christian education have been as a theorist and practitioner who, from his earliest work to the present, has addressed foundational issues in the field of religious education. Each of these contributions will be explored in the following subsections.
Curriculum Development and Teaching
Groome’s most extensive contribution to Christian education is as a curriculum developer, teacher, and presenter. The three religion textbook series for which he has served as the anchoring writer and, for major parts of all three series the primary author, have been used by several million children around the world. Several hundred thousand people have been educated using the Shared Christian Praxis approach from kindergarten through high school, and more than a million have engaged in Shared Christian Praxis learning processes during some part of their childhood and adolescent religious education. While most of these young people are Christians (primarily Catholics), there are significant numbers of people of other faiths who have been invited through the Shared Christian Praxis approach to learn about Christianity while at the same time learning from Christian traditions by bringing them into dialogue with their own faith convictions. This is especially the case in Pakistan, India, and in other places around the world where the majority of students in Catholic schools are not Catholic.
Viewing Groome’s work as a curriculum developer from a broad perspective, there was a renewal in Catholic catechesis/religious education during the first part of the twentieth century. This renewal was further energized by Vatican II. One of the fruits of the renewal was the development of new religious education curricular materials (See Warren, ed., 1983-1987). The Lord and King high school religion textbook series (developed and published between 1958 and 1965) was among the most notable of the new curricular materials produced in the middle of the twentieth century. Vincent Novak S.J. served as the editor-in-chief of the series (see Ryan, 2009). Other notable curricular materials of that era include the Canadian Catechism (1965) and the Come to the Father series (1967-1974) (for both of which Francoise Darcy-Berube served as the anchoring author), the Conscience and Concern series (1969-1975) (anchoring author James DiGiacomo, S.J.), and the On our Way, Vatican II basal curriculum (1966-1970), the New Life basal curriculum (1972-1975), and Jesus Nos Dice (1976) (for which Maria de la Cruz, H.H.S. and Francis J. Buckley, S.J. served as joint anchoring authors). (See the online biographies noted in the works cited by Veverka of Darcy-Berube, Horell of James DiGiacomo, and Buckley of de la Cruz Aymes.) Groome is among the curriculum developers who built upon the insights of mid-twentieth century curriculum developers to further the renewal of Catholic religion textbook publishing. Moreover, Groome has a connection with many of the earlier curriculum developers. When he studied at the Fordham GSRRE Novak was the dean and DiGiacomo and Darcy-Berube taught there. De la Cruz and Buckley worked closely with Groome as contributing authors of the God with Us series (1982-1986), the first series he helped to create.
Arguably, Groome is the most innovative and significant of the Catholic curriculum developers who built upon the work of those who initiated the renewal of Catholic religion text book publishing in the 1950s and 1960s. The God with Us series, which is based on the Shared Christian Praxis approach to religious education, had a significant impact on the publishing of Catholic basal curricula in the years after it began to be published. Specifically, the success of the series prompted other publishers to adopt pedagogical approaches that sought to integrate reflection on experience with an effort to make accessible the resources of Christian faith traditions (that is, Christian Story and Vision) and that invite those involved in the learning process to move outward toward the further development of a lived, living, and liberating faith. Thus, the influence of the Groome’s work extends beyond those educated in faith using the curricula he helped to design.
Turning to Groome’s teaching, through his courses at Boston College and presentations around the world, Groome has taught thousands of grade and high school teachers and principals, high schools and college campus ministers, and paid professional parish religious educators and pastoral ministers. From 1971 through 2015, Boston College offered master’s degrees in religious education and pastoral ministry that could be earned through five summers of study, six weeks each summer. Groome taught, advised, and mentored students in this program from 1976 through 2015, and in so doing contributed to the professional formation of over a thousand religious educators and pastoral ministers world-wide. Groome’s graduate teaching during the academic year at Boston College contributed to the professional formation of over a thousand additional religious educators and pastoral ministers. It is also significant to note that from the late 1960s to the present an increasing number of lay women and men have responded to a call to be professional, lay ecclesial ministers. Since many lay ecclesial ministers have been attracted to the graduate programs in religious education and pastoral ministry offered by Boston College, Groome has contributed to the education and formation of hundreds of lay ecclesial ministers. (The flowering of lay ministries in the post-Vatican II Roman Catholic Church in the United States was first recognized at the ecclesial level in Called and Gifted [NCCB, 1980]. Three comprehensive studies chart the growth of US Catholic lay ecclesial ministries: Murnian, 1992, Murnian and DeLambo, 1995, and DeLambo, 2005.)
Through his academic year undergraduate teaching at Boston College, Groome helped to shape the faith education of over a thousand additional people. In fact, for over four decades Groome’s courses have been among the highest enrolled undergraduate courses at Boston College. Beyond this, his presentations and addresses outside Boston College have extended Groome’s influence to thousands more. Finally, though his teaching and mentoring of doctoral students Groome has contributed to the formation of hundreds of doctoral level graduates, many of whom have made important contributions to the fields of religious education and practical theology and other fields of study as well.
Part of Groome’s legacy is the important contributions he has made to Catholic education. More fully, in the post-Vatican II era many Catholic educators embraced the effort to further the catechetical renewal then underway and to develop holistic pedagogies that could move Catholic education beyond pre-Vatican II, largely transmissive, cognitive-based approaches to religious education, as exemplified in the United States, for instance, by pedagogies based on rote memorization of the Baltimore Catechism. When Groome’s first book, Christian Religious Education, was published it provided a language for post-Vatican II Catholic educators to use in naming and being more intentional in their efforts to adopt a holistic pedagogy. In fact, a frequent comment among Catholic educators who read the book when it was first published was that since Vatican II they had been trying to develop something like a Shared Christian Praxis approach, without having had the benefit of Groome’s terminology and intentional and grounded pedagogy. They welcomed the guidance CRE provided for their work.
Catholic readers of CRE also recognized that Groome was steeped in Catholic traditions and that his work reflected the insights of developments in post-Vatican II Catholic theology. For example, Catholic readers of CRE noted how Groome developed his ideas in dialogue with Catholic religious educators Gabriel Moran and Berard Marthaler, how his analysis of education for human freedom resonated with the understanding of freedom that is central to the work of Catholic theologian Karl Rahner, and how at various points Groome drew insight from Bernard Lonergan, Walter Kasper, Gustavo Gutierrez and other Catholic theologians. Hence, Catholics also turned to Groome’s work to help them embrace the new theological outlook of Vatican II and post-Vatican II Catholic theology.
As his work has developed, Groome has made significant contributions to post-Vatican II Catholic education by articulating a comprehensive approach to Catholic education, embodying this approach in basal curricular materials, and presenting it to both scholarly and pastoral audiences in a wide variety of settings,. He has played a leading role in moving the Roman Catholic Church beyond the transmissive models of Catholic education of the past.
In the post-Vatican II era Christian Shared Praxis has also proven to be an ideal way for Catholics in many differing contexts to share their faith with one another and, in the process, to begin to form a sense of common identity. The Second Vatican Council was the first gathering of the Roman Catholic Church as a truly world church, and the Council called Catholic Christians to develop a sense of identity as a world Church. (Rahner, 1979). Prior to the Council Roman Catholics tended to separate into national, regional, and ethnic enclaves. For instance, it was common within the United States in the pre-Vatican II era for German Catholics, Irish Catholics, Italian Catholics, and other Catholic ethnic groups, while living in close proximity with one another, to build their own churches and create separate local church communities. In teaching and presenting Christian Shared Praxis and authoring curricular materials, Groome has taken a leading role in the effort to forge a common sense of Catholic identity for Roman Catholicism as a world church. Additionally, in reshaping the identity of the Roman Catholic Church, Vatican II turned the Church outward toward the world. Through his foci on the public or political dimensions of faith and the importance of learning to make decisions toward lived faith for God’s Reign in Jesus, Groome has helped to educate Catholics to connect their faith with their everyday lives and their efforts to make sense of socio-moral issues in public forums of discourse.
Vatican II also called the Roman Catholic Church to commit to ecumenical and interreligious openness (Vatican II, 1964; and Vatican II, 1965). In embracing the teachings of the Second Vatican Council, Groome has sought to draw insight from Protestantism, Judaism, and other religious communities, and to be open to and to engage a variety of religious/spiritual perspectives in his scholarship. For instance, in his first book, Christian Religious Education, he shows how Catholic educators can contribute to longstanding debates in the field of religious education that had at that time been carried on primarily in Protestant discussion forums. In Educating for Life he seeks to offer a spiritual vision that could appeal to people of all faith outlooks. Similarly, What Makes Us Catholic discusses how Catholic educators can embrace an expansive sense of religious openness while being deeply grounded in the spiritual wisdom of Catholicism. Then, in Will There Be Faith? Groome includes an intentional focus on education for interreligious understanding. Specifically, he states:
Education for interfaith understanding has become all the more urgent with the religious diversity of postmodern societies due to developments in communication, transportation, and relocation. Traditionally, the great religions remained located in geographic areas, indigenously intertwined with their local cultures. Not anymore? Now the ashram and mosque that were once ‘over there’ are on the same block as the local church and synagogue… In the face of such diversity, religious education that maximizes the life-giving potential of people’s own traditions and promotes interfaith understanding and respect is imperative, not only for the future of religion, but for the future of the world (Groome, 2011b, 11-12).
Thus, throughout his career Groome has been a model and guide for how Catholics can embrace a post-Vatican II spirit of ecumenical and interreligious openness.
It is also important to note that the religious education movement was largely Protestant from its founding in 1903 until the mid twentieth century. In the late 1950s Religious Education Association (REA) General Secretary Herman Wornom began to welcome Catholics proactively into the REA (Schmidt, 1983, 163-167). Through the efforts of pioneering Catholic educators such as Gerard S. Sloyan and Neil G. McCluskey the groundwork was then laid in the late 1950s and 1960s for Catholics to become more involved in the academic field of religious education. After Vatican II, Gerard S. Sloyan, Neil G. McCluskey, Berard Marthaler, and other Catholic educators led the way in educating Catholics in the United States to make the transition from a pre- to a post-Vatican II outlook, including becoming more open to looking at issues from ecumenical and interreligious perspectives. (See the online biographies noted in the works cited by Pelletier and Panganiban of Gerard S. Sloyan, Horell of Neil G. McCluskey, and Wilhauck of Berard L. Marthaler.) Groome and other Catholic educators of his generation have been able to build upon the efforts of the Catholic educators who came before them in becoming actively involved in the field of religious education and forging religious educational outlooks that are deeply Catholic while at the same time being open to dialogue with Protestants, Orthodox, and people of other faith traditions. Additionally, Groome and other present-day Catholic educators paved the way for the full inclusion of Catholics in the field of religious education and professional organizations such as the Religious Education Association: Association of Professors, Practitioners, and Researchers in Religious Education.
Turning to the intersection of religious education and pastoral ministry, in the post-Vatican II era a number of ministry specializations developed, such as youth ministry, social ministry, liturgical ministry, and pastoral care and counseling. Many lay and ordained ministers remained pastoral generalists while also developing specialized areas of ministerial interest and expertise. Other pastoral ministers concentrated only in a specialized area of ministry. In exploring the interrelation of the educational ministry of the church and other forms of ministry and in discussing Shared Christian Praxis as a style of ministry, Groome has contributed to Catholic education by helping many Catholics recognize that all forms of pastoral ministry have a religious educational component and the potential to contribute to how people are educated in faith. Moreover, Groome’s writing and teaching have helped pastoral ministers working in a variety of specialized areas of ministry in parishes or other pastoral contexts to envision how they can work together to foster a faith education consciousness in their pastoral setting and encourage ongoing and life-long education in faith. Groome has also helped to shape the evolution of ministry in the Catholic Church as a world church through the translation of his work into many other languages (including Chinese) and his presentations throughout the world.
Finally, it is significant to note that Groome’s writings on Catholic faith and education in the twenty-first century, especially What Makes US Catholic, have had a therapeutic value and have contributed to renewal within the Roman Catholic Church. Working within a faith community diminished by a crisis of sexual abuse in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries, Groome has helped to remind Catholics of the deep spiritual wisdom and rich treasury of Catholic traditions that can be a source of healing and provide new direction for the church. Additionally, as Groome has discussed how an openness to finding God in all spheres of life is central the Catholic sense of sacramentality, his work has helped Catholics and Catholic communities resist the temptation to retreat from the complexity and ambiguity of our contemporary postmodern world into narrowly sectarian or parochial understandings of Catholic Christian faith. It has also provided guidance for Christians of other denominations and other religious traditions seeking to enter into dialogue with Catholics and Catholicism.
Groome’s work has also made an important contribution to Christian education by being central to efforts to explore the relationship between practical theology and religious education. First, many practical theologians have claimed Groome’s work as an essential contribution to the field of practical theology, seeing in the Shared Praxis approach a model of how to do and teach practical theology. For instance, viewing practical theology as the movement “which makes the process of formation of Christian community and personhood in the world thematic for critical reflection,” Louis S. Mudge and James N. Poling contend that Groome’s Christian Religious Education has “grandparent status” in practical theology (Mudge and Poling, 1987, xiv-xv). Linking Groome with one of the leaders in practical theology, James H. Brandt writes: “The publication of Don Browning’s A Fundamental Practical Theology and Thomas Groome’s Sharing Faith in 1991 was an important moment in the rebirth and re-orientation of practical theology in both Protestant and Catholic circles. These two works focused the stirrings of the previous 20 years and articulated a vision of practical theology as a critical and creative endeavor, integrating theory and practice and moving beyond notions of application” (Brandt, 2012, 367; see also Browning, 1982). Additionally, practical theologian Kathleen A. Cahalen has remarked that she teaches Shared Christian Praxis as a way of doing practical theology (personal conversation with Cahalen, February 8, 2014, Tucson, AZ). Overall, in striving to articulate what practical theology is, as distinct from historical, systematic, and other forms of theology, and how one does practical theology, practical theologians have turned to Groome’s work and Shared Christian Praxis as providing paradigms or examples of practical theological enquiry. In doing so, they have envisioned Christian religious education as being related to the field of practical theology.
Second, Groome has helped to advance the field of practical theology. He has focused specifically on what he calls the pedagogy of practical theology, and has argued that in order for theology to be truly practical, practical theologians need to attend to more than the what of practical theology (that is, to attend to more than practical theology as a way of doing theology); they must attend to a range of pedagogical concerns. These concerns include the who, how, where, and why of doing practical theology (see Groome, 1987; Imbelli and Groome, 1992; and Groome, 2014b).
From Groome’s perspective, focusing on the who provides the best starting point for developing a fuller understanding of practical theology. That is, thinking about the who in relation to the what enables one to envision practical theology as an activity engaged in by persons and communities. Groome also claims that theological reflection is not an activity of the intellect alone, and that theology becomes practical when persons and communities strive to reflect on all facets of embodied living in the light of their faith. For Groome the how of practical theology follows from the who. That is, he suggests that to engage in practical theological reflection persons and communities must name and critically examine their sense of how God is active in their lives and how their faith shapes their everyday lives. Then they must explore the resources of Christian faith traditions that relate to the theological issues that arise in their everyday lives and correlate or integrate these resources with their life concerns (see Imbelli and Groome, 1992, and Groome, 2014b).
Regarding the where or the location of practical theology, Groome contends that in order to be practical, theological reflection needs to be done in more than seminaries, universities or other academic settings. It must be done within and beyond local church communities; specifically pastoral ministers must guide gathered communities of the faithful to reflect on how God is active in their midst, and Christian believers must strive to make sense of the concerns of everyday life in the light of their faith by reflecting on these concerns theologically. (This aspect of practical theology is emphasized in Imbelli and Groome, 1992; but is also addressed in Groome, 1987.)
The why question may be phrased more fully as: Toward what end or intended purpose does one aim in doing practical theology? In responding to this question Groome claims that: “Practical theology intends the learning outcome of reliable knowledge, spiritual wisdom for life, and the arts needed to render the services that enact Christian faith in the world” (Groome, 2014b, 280, emphasis as in original). Groome’s discussions of practical theology have and continue to deepen and expand the field of practical theology. Moreover, Groome has offered uniquely insightful analyses of how the central concerns of Christian religious education are also at the heart of the field of practical theology, and how the pedagogy of practical theology must affect a practice to theory to (renewed) practice of Christian faith.
The Praxis of Christian Religious Education
Groome’s most important contribution to Christian education, and the one that undergirds all the others, is his analysis of the theory and practice of Christian religious education. In exploring this contribution it is necessary to begin with a little historical background. By the mid twentieth century a deep division arose between liberal religious educators and Christian educators. Sketched in broad outline, liberal religious educators in the first half of the twentieth century (including George Albert Coe, Harrison Elliott, Adelaide Case, Sophia Lyon Fahs, and William C. Bower) emphasized the connection between God and human beings. Fahs, for instance, argued that the sacred and secular could not be separated; that “a wise Creator” placed in each child “a great yearning for love” that naturally leads persons to seek out life-giving relationships with God and others (Fahs, 1952, 8-9 and 39). These liberal religious educators also believed that God reveals God’s self in human history to guide persons and communities toward what is true and just. While recognizing the reality of sin, they were generally optimistic about human beings’ abilities, personally and collectively, to structure their lives in accord with God’s will for humanity. Additionally, liberal religious educators tended to place great emphasis on educational processes. From their perspective, a well developed educational process can encourage the natural development of the human person as made in the image of God. It can also enable the divine nature within each person to be revealed to others and, thus, help to forge common bonds among people that can provide a foundation for collective efforts to build a more just social order, a “democracy of God” as Coe called it (Coe, 1919, 54-55).
Confidence in liberal theology and liberal religious education was shaken in the first half of the twentieth century by the brutality of two world-wide wars (1914-1918 and 1939-1945), the devastation caused by a world-wide economic depression (1929-1939), and the horrors of the Holocaust/Shoah (the genocide of approximately 6 million Jews) during the Second World War. Neo-orthodox theology developed as a response to the awareness of the human suffering resulting from these horrific events. It focused on the Transcendence or Otherness of God, the distance between God and humanity, the pervasiveness of sin and sinful social conditions, and the need for personal and social redemption in Jesus Christ. Neo-orthodox theology led some Christians to see faith as being opposed to human reason. It led others to focus on how persons and communities needed to be transformed in faith before they could reason rightly, that is, see and reflect on life and the world with an openness to the Transcendent and an orientation to ultimate truth and value. The Christian education movement arose within the field of religious education among those influenced by neo-orthodoxy. Christian educators sought to show how transformation in Christ provided a foundation for the development of a reflective outlook on life that was grounded in Christian faith. Those who came to be identified with the Christian education movement (such as H. Shelton Smith, Lewis J. Sherrill, James D. Smart, Randolph Crump Miller, Sara Little, and C. Ellis Nelson) sought to root education in faith in the study of Christian theology and the church. They tended to think of being led to encounter Jesus and God’s saving grace through the study of Christian theology and being formed in faith in a local church community as the foundational pillars of education in Christian faith (for example, see Smith, 1942-1943).
In his early work, Groome sought to bridge the gap between liberal religious education and Christian education. Hence, in his first book, Christian Religious Education, Groome integrates insights from Christian educators and liberal religious educators into a comprehensive approach to what he calls Christian religious education. As the title of the book suggests, Groome discusses education in faith from a distinctly Christian perspective and in doing so incorporates insights from the Christian education movement. At the same time, Groome integrates insights from liberal religious educators and the founding vision of the twentieth century religious education movement into his focus on Christian education; hence he identifies himself as a Christian religious educator (see Groome, 1980, 21-26).
The preface to the first edition of CRE reinforces the impression of the title. It begins with a story about Groome’s first effort to teach religion/theology when, as a seminarian, he was assigned to teach a junior religion class at a Catholic boys’ high school (Groome, 1980, xi-xii). From the perspective of many Christian educators, the story lays out the fundamental task (and often challenge) of educating in faith, the task of teaching Christian theology in an engaging and life giving way. Christian educator Randolph Crump Miller envisioned the study of theology as a formative activity that could enable a person to be open to the transforming grace of God. He argued that theology must always be in the background of education in faith (see Miller, 1961, and Miller, 1978). From the opening pages of CRE, teaching theology is an important background concern.
When Groome turns to the question of how to teach theology he states: “I have become equally convinced that there are a number of foundational questions which undergird the whole enterprise of education, including Christian religious education” (Groome, 1980, xv). Specifically, there are six questions that “can be characterized by their interrogative pronouns – what, why, where, how, when, and who.” For Randolph Crump Miller and many of the other Christian educators of that time, their pedagogical interests were focused on finding appropriate methods for teaching theology given the age of learners and the personal and social contexts of their lives. D. Campbell Wyckoff was one of the few notable Christian educators of this era who was a strong advocate for a well-thought teaching and learning process that encourages the holistic development of persons. Groome took the pedagogical questions he uses as a guide from Wyckoff (see Wyckoff, 1961). In doing so he goes beyond the limited emphasis on teaching methodology that is characteristic of the religious educational outlooks of Miller and many other Christian educators. Hence, Groome signals clearly here that he will address the concerns of liberal religious educators to design holistic educational processes that encourage the full development of human persons as made in the image and called to grow in the likeness of God.
In Part I of CRE Groome goes even further. Liberal religious educators recognized from the beginning of Chapter 1 onwards that Groome’s understanding of education was compatible with their own. For instance, on the first page of the first chapter of CRE Groome writes: “At its root meaning, then, education is an activity of ‘leading out’” (Groome, 1980, 5). This understanding of education resonates with Johann Pestalozzi’s experiential approach to education, and Pestalozzi was one of the principal educational theorists from whom the liberal religious educators drew insight. In commenting on Pestalozzi, liberal religious educator Harrison S. Elliott wrote: “Pestalozzi started to observe and study children, for he believed that education must be based on the nature of the child and the natural laws for his [her] development, and, therefore that education was a ‘drawing out instead of pouring in’” (Elliott, 1940, 40).
Throughout the first part of CRE there are also passages that echo the insights of liberal religious educators. For example, Groome writes, “Educational activity with pilgrims in time is a political activity. I understand political activity to be any deliberate and structured intervention in people’s lives which is attempting to influence how they live their lives in society. To be rooted in time is to be in relationship with other people who share that time” (Groome, 1980, 15, emphasis added). This passage from CRE is similar to many passages in liberal religious educator George Albert Coe’s work – such as, “the first and fundamental element in the Christian education process is the introduction of the pupil to the specific happiness of being a member of society” (Coe, 1919, 80, emphasis added). Earlier in this same chapter, Coe wrote: “God does not require to be fed and clothed; the only thing that we can do for [God] that [God] cannot do for [Godself] is to be brothers [and sisters] to one another” (Coe, 1919, 71, emphasis added). On a broader scale, in CRE Groome’s analysis of Christian religious education as a political activity and his focus on educating for the Reign of God echo Coe’s emphasis on educating for the democracy of God.
However, in discussing the foundations of Christian religious education Groome crafts an understanding of Christian religious education that not only appeals to liberal religious educators; it addresses a major concern of many Christian educators. That is, at the time CRE was written the field of religious education was influenced greatly by Christian educators such as Randolph Crump Miller and James C. Smart who envisioned education within a Christian community as incorporation into the body of Christ so that a person could be fully immersed in an atmosphere in which grace could flourish; thus, maximizing the potential for personal transformation in Christ (see Smart, 1954; and Miller, 1961). Liberal religious educators and some Christian educators raised questions about whether Christian educators had become so focused on personal formation for life within local church communities that they had lost touch with the mission of the church in the world. Some religious educators contended that the Christian education movement and the influence of Miller in particular had domesticated or subverted the founding ideal of the religious education movement to educate persons to transform the world based on their religious convictions and values (Schmidt, 170-175).
The neo-Orthodox critique of liberal theology and religious education was aimed at providing an alternative to the liberal vision of the reconstruction of society, rather than a retreat from the social mission of the church. The domestication of the religious education was thus seen by some Christian educators as an indication that the Christian education movement was failing to show how Christians could be educated to address the often harsh realities of life in the light of faith. Groome signals clearly in CRE that he wants to emphasize the importance of the social mission of the church (which led liberal religious educators to be open to his understanding of religious education). At the same time he indicates that his focus is on the mission of the church to welcome and work for the fuller realization of God’s Reign within the world (which led Christian educators who were concerned about the domestication of the social vision of the religious education movement also to be open to his approach to religious education).
The only person associated with liberal religious education whom Groome cites in Part I of CRE is John Dewey. Dewey was a founding member of the Religious Education Association (REA) in 1903 and helped to forge the liberal religious education outlook that was the original guiding vision of the REA. Yet, from 1904 onward, after he became a professor of philosophy at Columbia University in New York, Dewey focused on the philosophy of education and issues of general education, not religious education. Moreover, Dewey’s insights had influenced Miller and some other Christian educators (even though other Christian educators were critical of Dewey’s optimistic humanism and his focus on pragmatic rather than universal truth). Hence, Groome could draw insight from Dewey without too great a concern about alienating Christian educators.
To balance the concerns of Christian educators and liberal religious educators in Part I of CRE, Groome turns for guidance to Dwayne Huebner’s efforts to reconceptualize the educational sub-discipline of curriculum theory. In particular, Groome draws insight from Huebner’s understandings of temporality. (In the final chapter of CRE Groome’s discussion of teaching and learning is also influenced by Huebner’s work.) In his work Huebner is concerned about educational experience. However, he argues that if we focus only on present experience we can end up overlooking how our past shapes the way we see the present, and how our present experiences will shape how we move into the future. Hence, Huebner contends that we can develop greater insight into educational processes if we re-frame a concern for human experience as a concern for human temporality, that is, a concern for how people can bring insights from their past into the present with a focus also on the future (Heubner, 1967). Huebner’s understanding of how curriculum can be based on a concern for human temporality provides the foundation for Groome’s conceptualizing of Christian religious education as the education of pilgrims in time, and his analysis of critical reflection as involving remembering (the past), reasoning (in the present), and imagining (the future). Groome argues that if Christian religious education attends to all three temporal dimensions of human personhood on both personal and social levels it can nurture the full development or flourishing of persons, and it can lead people outward to being full participants in society who contribute to the ongoing reformation of all that is not truly life giving in the world.
Essentially, Groome builds upon Huebner’s work to re-conceptualize and then re-articulate the goal of liberal religious education to transform the existing social order in the light of faith. Yet, in addressing the past dimension of human temporality Groome incorporates into his approach the central concerns of Christian educators. For instance, Groome contends that “educational activity must maintain a fruitful tension between conservation and creativity.” What must be conserved, Groome suggests, is the “past heritage” of Christian faith, which is, from a Christian educator’s perspective, the theology of salvation in Jesus as the Christ (Groome, 1980, 17). Additionally, Huebner claims that in order to foster critical reflection, educational processes must be open to the other and the transcendent, to that which is beyond one’s own limited life perspective. Groome adopts Heubner’s notion that openness to the transcendent is critically important in an educational process. In doing so he uses language that resonates with the terminology of neo-orthodox theology that was used by many Christian educators.
There are many other aspects CRE that reveal Groome’s attempt to bridge Christian education and liberal religious education. The most significant of these is the discussion of what Groome calls “the social process of Christian becoming,” that is, the appropriation of the symbols of Christian traditions and the formation of Christian self-identity within “a Christian social/cultural environment” (Groome, 1980, 115). In this discussion Groome interweaves insights from liberal religious educators and Christian educators to craft an integrated understanding of the social context and dynamics of Christian religious education. The heart of this discussion is the linking of liberal religious educator George Albert Coe with Christian educator C. Ellis Nelson.
In his discussion of the social process of Christian becoming Groome presents Coe as being the originator of the socialization approach to religious education. Yet, Groome remarks that Coe did not envision socialization as the formation of Christians to accept passively what was handed down to them. He acknowledges that Coe favored a creative approach to socialization, focusing on the reconstruction of society and the creation of a new world. Groome then links Coe with Nelson. Specifically, Groome describes Nelson as bringing “a fresh impetus” and a “deeper understanding” to the socialization approach when “it seemed to be in its twilight days” (Groome, 1980, 118). Nelson was the first religious educator to draw extensively from research in anthropology, sociology, and social theory in discussing how congregations socialize people into adopting the beliefs and practices of their local church community. However, Nelson holds that congregations need to confront the moral issues of society if they are to socialize people into an ethically alive faith. Nelson also claims that education/socialization in faith should be paired with moral education, that is, with the formation of moral conscience and cultivation of a sense of social responsibility (see Nelson, 1967, especially the discussion of the connections among religious faith, the moral life, and responsibility on 9-10). Thus, Nelson emphasizes the importance of both socialization into the community of the church and education for Christian social responsibility. Stated differently, for Nelson education in Christian faith should be formation for membership in both church and society. Nelson was one of the Christian educators who, unlike Miller and Smart, avoided the pitfall of over-focusing on the church and neglecting the mission of the church in the world. (However, it should be noted that in the latter part of his career Miller placed greater emphasis on education in faith for social responsibility.)
The implicit suggestion Groome makes at this point in CRE is that liberal religious educators can bring fresh impetus and a deeper understanding to their work if they develop a more inclusive sense of the social process of becoming a person of faith; specifically if they emphasize the social process of becoming Christian within a church community to the same extent that they highlight Christian education for social reconstruction. Moreover, Groome suggests that the work of Nelson and other Christian educators who have a balanced view of Christian education for church membership and social responsibility can help to guide liberal religious educators in expanding their understanding of religious education.
From the perspective of Christian educators, Groome was not only linking liberal religious education and Christian education, he was showing how the theory and practice of Christian education could be developed more fully. In fact, in reviewing CRE some Christian educators judged Groome to be one of their own, a Christian educator. They saw him as a student of C. Ellis Nelson who was building on Nelson’s work to present a balanced view of education within a local church community for both conversion and social responsibility, membership and mission. (Boardman W. Katham, personal conversations November 3-4, 2007, Boston, MA).
CRE can be read as an attempt to build upon yet go beyond Nelson’s work. In affirming the work of Nelson and some other Christian educators, Groome contends that there must be an intentional emphasis in Christian religious education on education for membership in both church and society. However, he implies that Christian educators will be better able to maintain such a dual emphasis if they recognize how their own perspectives on education in faith complement rather than stand in contrast with the faith education perspectives of liberal religious educators. Groome also goes beyond Nelson and other Christian educators in claiming that there must be an intentional educational focus on correcting “undesirable socializing influences” (Groome, 1980, 126). He suggests that if Christian educators incorporate an intentional focus on thinking creatively and even reconstructively about socializing influences (such as is found in part in the work of liberal religious educators), they will be better able to correct negative social influences and nurture a sense of conscience and social responsibility.
The first three parts of CRE discuss the theological and educational foundations of Groome’s approach to education in faith. When they are considered as a whole, there are two major foci in Groome’s analysis. On the one hand, he emphasizes the importance of teaching theology and striving to enable Christians to embrace more fully the good news/gospel found in Jesus as the Christ. On the hand, he focuses on the educational development of Christian pilgrims over time for Christian political/social responsibility so that they can continue Jesus’ mission of welcoming and working to bring about the fuller realization of God’s Reign in the world. Then in Parts IV-VI of CRE Groome discusses how the theological underpinning and educational foundations of educating in Christian faith presented in Parts I-III can be embodied in an approach to educating in faith. This approach is, of course, Shared Christian Praxis.
Shared Christian Praxis begins with the intentional focus on asking Christians to name and reflect critically on their own social location and how their social outlook has developed over time (Movements One and Two). Thus, Groome incorporates into his approach the liberal religious educators’ emphasis on how people live out their lives in society. Yet, Groome uses Huebner’s understanding of curriculum as concern for human temporality to reshape and rearticulate this emphasis. Additionally, when Groome discusses how Christian educators can nurture critical reflection on present social conditions his guide is Paulo Freire, not any of the liberal religious educators of the first half of the twentieth century (Groome, 1980, 185). The next step of a Shared Christian Praxis learning process (Movement Three) turns participants in a learning process to the whole faith life of Christian communities, including Christian theology, core faith convictions, and the collective wisdom of Christian faith communities. Thus, in this movement Groome follows in the footsteps of C. Ellis Nelson and other Christian educators in envisioning how teaching the transformative reality of Christian faith is the core or central dynamic of education in Christian faith. The final movements (Four and Five) of Shared Christian praxis bring the two major foci of the process into dialogue or dialectical engagement with one another.
Groome’s efforts in CRE to bridge the gap between liberal religious education and Christian education were largely successful. His nuanced and carefully balanced approach to Christian religious education attracted the attention of a wide range of religious educators. The book was read and discussed by many religious educators, from the most progressive liberal religious educators to the most conservative Christian educators. While there were already at that time a significant number of Catholics involved in the field of religious education, Groome was the first Catholic to be invited into ongoing conversations about religious education in many established Protestant discussion forums. In fact, even before the publication of CRE and based on conversations about the approach to Christian religious education that he was developing, Groome was, as noted earlier, the first Catholic invited to give the Robert S. Jones Lectures at Austin Presbyterian Seminary in Texas. Additionally, after reading CRE and discussing Groome’s “new approach” with prominent Catholic educators, Jim Morgan, a scholar in religious education and pastoral ministry who worked at Sadlier Publishing, recommended to his boss Ralph Fletcher that Groome be considered as a possible anchor and primary author for the development of a new Catholic religious education textbook series. Fletcher then invited Groome to meet with him in New York, and at that meeting Groome’s career as a curriculum developer was launched. After the publication of CRE, Groome’s influence also spread quickly into international discussions of religious education. As a result, Groome became and has remained a sought after presenter about religious education and related issues throughout the world. Most importantly, however, Groome was one of the religious education theorists to help move the field of religious education beyond the polarizing dispute between liberal religious educators and Christian educators.
Through his ongoing work, Groome has remained a prominent religious educator and practical theologian for some forty years. Most significantly, Sharing Faith offers a fuller account of the dynamic structures of human living (that is, human being or human existence) that are engaged by a process of education in faith. As noted above, there are two major foci in CRE: Christian faith and Christian believers/persons (who in CRE Groome calls Christian pilgrims in time). In SF Groome integrates these two foci into one as he discusses the education of persons as what he calls “agent-subjects-in relationship” (Groome, 1991, 8-9, 19-20, 85-87, 127-129, 429-30). Groome argues that the starting point in any process of education should not be the subject (topic) to the taught, but the persons (the subjects) who are involved in an educational process. Moreover, persons are subjects who are also always actors in the world (that is, agent-subjects) and who always stand in relationship to other persons, and to the lived and living faith of Christian traditions and communities, and, ultimately, to God. Groome also contends in SF that education in faith should lead outward to decision making (that is, the further development of human persons as agent-subjects) and ongoing conversion (that is, ongoing transformations in how persons relate to God, and to others and the world based on how they relate to God) (Groome, 1991, 129-131).
SF further established Groome as a major theorist in the field of religious education. SF also led Groome to be recognized as a major voice in post-Vatican II Catholicism and earned him the 1991 First Place Book Award in Education/Religious Education from the Catholic Press Association. Moreover, SF’s presentation of how persons as agent-subjects-in-relationship engage in theological reflection provides the foundation of Groome’s contributions to practical theology. His holistic understanding of human agency as presented most fully in SF is at the core of his discussions of spirituality and a spiritual vision to guide educational processes. His discussions of a Catholic understanding of the development of human personhood within community, which build upon his analysis of persons as agent-subjects-in-relationship, is at the core of his contributions to Catholic education. Finally, working collaboratively with colleagues at Boston College, Groome helped to create an academic learning community that focuses on the development of persons as agent-subjects in relationship. This learning community has been and continues to be the platform for Groome’s teaching and the home base for his presentations around the world.
Since the early years of the twenty-first century there has been another gradual yet significant shift in Groome’s religious educational outlook. Specifically, while continuing to emphasize the importance of the holistic education of persons as agent-subjects in relationship, Groome has focused more and more on faith. In particular, he has highlighted the importance of the cultivation of a lived and living faith within persons and communities. In his current position as director of the Boston College Church in the 21st Century Center C21 Center, Groome now focuses on the critical issues the church must face today if it is to be a place that can nurture a lived and living faith. Looking outward toward the world, Groome has become interested in what he calls a new apologetic that can present the live-giving wisdom of Christian faith as a guide for life in a secular age. In the years to come, Groome’s work on Christian religious education for faith is likely to continue to enrich the theory and practice of religious education.
A discussion of Groome’s contributions to Christian education would not be complete without some mention of critical assessments of his work. Without citing specific examples, the majority of the critiques of Groome’s work can be divided into four groups. First, some critics focus on perceived inadequacies in Groome’s underlying educational and theological anthropology, that is, his understanding of human personhood. To begin, it has been argued that in discussing human personhood and the conditions of human life there is a lack in Groome’s work of substantive discussions of the ways culture, race, gender, and class shape human life. Similarly, it has been noted that while Groome champions the use of inclusive language and draws insights from feminist thought and theology, his underlying anthropology is not deeply informed by feminist perspectives. Other critics question Groome’s anthropology from a theological perspective; that is, they critically evalaute his understanding of how the human person stands in relationship to God. The most common critique is that Groome, like the liberal religious educators who were the leaders in the field of religious education in the first part of the twentieth century, is overly optimistic about human nature. Groome is charged with not having an adequate sense of the reality of sin and a fully developed understanding of the human person as in need of the saving grace of God.
Second, it has been argued that Groome does not attend carefully enough to the educational nature and dynamics of education in faith. Such arguments are sometimes coupled with the claim that Groome’s approach is too theological. For example, some critics contend that the movements of Shared Christian Praxis are stilted because of Groome’s underlying concern with teaching theology. The best illustration of this, some claim, is Groome’s emphasis on the importance of moving discussions beyond Movement Two critical reflection into a Movement Three presentation of Christian Story and Vision. Focusing on facilitating this movement could, so it is said, lead educators to cut discussions short and stifle the natural unfolding of conversation to deeper insight and understanding. Similarly, some religious educators claim that Groome does not attended carefully enough to the nature of education as a social science. He is also charged with failing to distinguish adequately between differing learning contexts, such as the significant differences between teaching religion in a school setting and providing catechetical instruction in a parish/congregational setting. While Groome discusses how the dynamics of psycho-social and faith development affect learning, he does not, some argue, explore fully how an understanding of the development of perspective taking abilities, cognitive reasoning, and emotional intelligence can and should be taken into account within Shared Christian Praxis in Movement Two critical reflection, Movement Four critical appropriation, and Movement Five decision and action.
Within the second group of critiques of Groome’s work, there are those who raise critical questions about Groome’s claim that religious education can be regarded as a form of practical theology. Specifically, it has been argued that religious education should be envisioned as an interdisciplinary field that holds together (and in tension) a commitment to draw insight from both the sub-disciplines of the science of education and the various fields of theological inquiry. While Shared Christian Praxis is an intentional pedagogical process, Groome implicitly undermines the importance of focusing on pedagogical concerns and leads people to overemphasize the importance of theological reflection when he subsumes religious education within practical theology. In essence, Groome undermines efforts to articulate how religious educators bring to discussions of educating in faith a distinctively educational perspective that cannot be reduced to a form of theological inquiry, even a form of practical theological inquiry. Moreover, in reducing religious education to practical theology, Groome undermines to some extent his own efforts to develop a distinctive educational consciousness and focus on the importance of lifelong and life wide education in faith within the church.
In contrast with the second, the third major set of criticisms of Groome’s work concerns the theological underpinnings of his approach to Christian religious education. Some critics argue that Groome does not provide an adequate account of God as educator and learning from God, and that he does not discuss as fully as he could how aspects of church life, especially liturgy, play a key role in Christian faith formation. Others critics argue that the dynamics of Shared Christian Praxis can limit the ability of a teacher to present Christian theology and traditions. More fully, the three curricula Groome has designed provide systematic and comprehensive presentations of Catholic Christian faith. However, some critics contend that when Shared Christian Praxis is used outside of a comprehensive, year-long or multi-year curriculum, focusing on a particular theme and using that theme as a guide for what to present in Movement Three can and perhaps inevitably does lead to a piecemeal or partial presentation of Christian faith. Still other critics claim that Groome could develop his theological foundations more fully. Of particular note are critiques of Groome for not engaging fully the neo-orthodox critique of liberal theology that is central to the Christian education movement. Other religious educators contend that Groome does not provide an adequate understanding of the formative power of Christian congregations as the primary place where Christians learn and are shaped by Christian theology and practices, and can experience the grace of salvation.
Fourth, some religious educators question the way Groome approaches religious education. Throughout his career Groome has sought to articulate a comprehensive approach to religious education. He also extends his educational approach beyond religious education and envisions it as a way of engaging in ministry, a model of practical theological reflection, and a guide for spiritual formation – with spirituality envisioned as being at its fullest a universal capacity to seek transcendence that is found in all people. In considering the comprehensive nature of Groome’s thought, some critics ask: Is it possible or even desirable to try to articulate a comprehensive approach to religious education (and/or ministry, theological reflection, and spiritual formation) in a postmodern age in which we have become more aware of the local and situated nature of all human knowing and doing? Rather than striving to offer comprehensive accounts of religious education, scholars in the field of religious education should strive, it is argued, to offer paradigms or models for approaching religious education from differing angles of vision. For example, religious education scholarship should offer models of religious education that focus on community, public life, personal and social liberation, and other orienting concerns. In moving into pastoral settings or addressing pastoral concerns, religious educators can then choose, so it is suggested, the model that is most appropriate for their context.
In considering critical assessments of Groome’s work, it should be noted that beginning in Sharing Faith Groome strives to take into account many of the criticisms of Shared Christian Praxis as an educational process. SF also addresses many of the theological criticisms of Groome’s earlier work, especially in the section of the book on Shared Christian Praxis as a way of doing ministry. In his most recent book, Will There Be Faith?, Groome considers carefully how faith education can and should be shaped differently in parish/congregational, family, and school settings. A review of Groome’s work also shows that from his earliest work onwards he attends carefully to both educational and theological issues. However, he has been more intentional about addressing theological issues because he has been a faculty member at Boston College in a Department of Theology and a School of Theology and Ministry, not a department or school of Education. In considering the theological critiques of his work, it can be noted that Groome has emphasized that his theological outlook is grounded in the teachings of the Second Vatican Council and post-Vatican II Roman Catholic theology (not liberal Protestant theology), and that he is open to dialogue with people who hold other theological outlooks.
Stepping back from the critical assessments of Groome’s work and viewing them more broadly, we can note that they raise foundational questions about religious education, such as:
- How can and should we conceptualize religious education as an interdisciplinary field of study that draws insights from both the science of education and the discipline of theology? How should religious education as an educational discipline stand in relation to theology, and practical theology in particular? How should religious education as an academic discipline be related to the practices of educating in faith found within ecclesial communities and other pastoral/practical settings?
- Is it possible to identify underlying concerns that undergird all religious educational theory and practice? Or, should we strive to identify a range of educational concerns articulated by religious educators and then seek to show how these concerns are linked or related to one another (without trying to synthesize these various concerns into a comprehensive approach to religious education)?
Perhaps one of the greatest contributions Thomas H. Groome has made to Christian education is that his work raises such fundamental questions. Reading Groome’s work and critiques of his work in dialogue with other major theorists in religious education can provide enriching opportunities for both beginners and seasoned veterans in the field of religious education to engage in deep reflection and conversation about the nature, purpose, and goals of educating in faith.
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Groome, T. H. (2011). Will there be faith? A new vision for educating and growing disciples. New York. Harper One.
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Book Chapters, Book Forwards, and Encyclopedia Articles
Groome, T. H. (2015). Boston College’s Institute of Religious Education and Pastoral Ministry. In Encyclopedia of Christian education, v. 3, ed. G. Kurian and M. Lamport, 165. Lanham, MD: Roman and Littlefield.
Groome, T. H. (2014). Practices of teaching: A pedagogy of practical theology. In Invitation to practical theology: Catholic voices and visions, ed. C. E. Wolfteich, 277-300. New York: Paulist Press.
Groome, T. H. (2009). Educating for religious identity in secularizing worlds. In Secularization theories, religious identity and practical theology: developing international practical theology for the 21st century, eds. W. Gräb and L. Charbonnier. Berlin: Lit; London; Global [distributor].
Groome, T. H. (2008). “Adolescent catechesis: Where are we now and going?” In Source book on adolescent catechesis: Volume II, National Initiative on Adolescent Catechesis and National Federation for Catholic Youth Ministry, 59-66. Washington, DC: National Federation for Catholic Youth Ministry.
Groome, T. H. (2007). The future of Catholic ministry: Our best hope. In Priests for the 21st century, ed. D. Dietrich, 166-189. New York: Crossroad.
Groome, T. H. (2007). Forward. Christian education as evangelism, ed. N. C. Everist, xi-xii. Minneapolis: Fortress Press.
Groome, T. H. (2006). A shared praxis approach to religious education. In International handbook of the religious, moral and spiritual dimensions of education, part one, ed. M. deSouza et al., 763-777. Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Springer, 2006.
Groome, T. H. (2006). Shared praxis – a way towards educating for spiritual wisdom. In Guidelines for teachers, 110-112. Dublin, Ireland: National Council for Curriculum and Assessment.
Groome, T. H. (2006). Handing on the faith: The need for total catechetical education. In Handing on the Faith, ed. R. Imbelli, 172-192. New York: Crossroad.
Groome, T. H. (2006). The church is catechetical. In The many marks of the church, eds. W. Madges and M. Daly, 79-84. New London: Twenty-Third Publications.
Groome, T. H. (2004). Religious education and spiritual formation. In Structures for lay leadership. Washington, DC: FADICA.
Groome, T. H. (2004). Preface. John Baptist de La Salle: the spirituality of Christian education, eds. C. Koch, J. Calligan, and J. Gros, 1-3. Mahwah, N.J.: Paulist Press.
Groome, T. H. (2004). Preface: Educating for spiritual wisdom. Irish national secondary school religion curriculum. Dublin: Department of Education.
Groome, T. H. (2004). Good governance, the domestic church, and religious education. In Common calling: The laity and governance of the Catholic church, ed. S. Pope, 195-208. Washington: Georgetown Press.
Groome, T. H. (2003). Who was that tall dark stranger?: A memory of Vatican II. In Vatican II: forty personal stories, eds. W. Madges and M. J. Daley, 217-220. Mystic, CT: Twenty-Third Publications.
Groome, T. H. (2003). Total catechesis/religious education: A vision for now and always. In Horizons and Hopes, eds. T. H. Groome and H. D. Horell, 1-29. New York: Paulist Press.
Groome, T. H. (2003). Forward: May you be so blessed. God’s Law of Love, J. McCarthy. Allen, TX: Thomas More Press.
Groome, T. H. (2003). Foreword. Gathered and sent, B. Lee and M. Cowens, 1-4. New York: Paulist Press.
Groome, T. H. (2003). Forging the smithy of the teacher's soul: The best hope for Irish education. In Reimaginig the Catholic School, eds. N. Prendergast and L. Monahan, 35-45. Dublin: Veritas.
Groome, T. H. (2003). For and from faith for the common good: The charism of Catholic education. In One hundred years of Catholic education: Historical essays in honor of the centennial of the National Catholic Education Association, eds. J. J. Augenstein, C. J. Kauffman, and R. J. Wister, 179-198. Washington, DC: NCEA.
Groome, T. H. (2003). Conversion or nurture: When we thought the debate was over. In Mutuality matters: Family, faith and just love, ed. H. Anderson, 211-224. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield.
Groome, T. H. (2003). Children and parents: Two-way partners in faith development In Developing a public faith: New directions in practical theology: Essays in honor of James W. Fowler, eds. R. R. Osmer and F. Schweitzer, 203-212. St. Louis, MO: Chalice Press.
Groome, T. H. (2003). Catholic identity in the public forum: The challenge for religious educators. In Faithful past: Faith-filled future: Papers commissioned for the centennial of the National Catholic Education Association, 25-36. Washington, DC: NCEA.
Groome, T. H. (2002). Wisdom for life: The horizon of theological literacy. In Theological literacy for the twenty-first century, ed. R. L. Petersen and N. M. Rourke, 352-370. Grand Rapids, MI: W. B. Eerdmans Pub.
Groome, T. H. (2002). Total catechetical education. In Religious education of boys and girls, ed. by W. G. Jeanrond and L. S. Cahill, 79-87. London: SCM Press.) [Can also be cited as Groome T. H. (2002, Fall). Total catechetical education. Concilium 2002 (4): 79-87.]
Groome, T. H. (2002). Building on a rock: A spiritual foundation for Catholic education. In Catholic Teacher Recruitment and Formation, eds. C. Cimono. R. M. Haney, and J. O’Keefe, 63-74. Washington, DC: NCEA.
Groome, T. H. (1999). Virgil Elizondo as religious educator: Ever removing boundaries. In Beyond Borders, ed. T. Matovina, 36-46. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis.
Groome, T. H. (1999). Roots in the particular with branches for the universal. In Globalization and difference: Practical theology in a world context, eds. P. Ballard and P. Couture, 185-191. Cardiff: Cardiff Academic Press.
Groome, T. H. (1998). The purposes of Christian catechesis. In Empowering catechetical leaders, eds. T. H. Groome and M. J. Corso, 3-27. Washington, DC: National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA), 1999.
Groome, T. H. (1998). Preface. Empowering Catechetical Leaders. In Empowering catechetical leaders, eds. T. H. Groome and M. J. Corso, vii-viii. Washington, DC: National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA), 1999.
Groome, T. H. (1998). Claiming and breaking ground: The General Directory for Catechesis. In Empowering catechetical leaders, eds. T. H. Groome and M. J. Corso, 233-243. Washington, DC: National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA).
Groome, T. H. (1997). Spirituality as purpose and process of catechesis. In The echo within: Emerging issues in religious education, eds. C. Dooley and M. Collins, 161-176. Allen, TX: Thomas More.
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Groome, T. H. (1994). Inculturation: How to proceed in a pastoral context. In Christianity and cultures: A mutual enrichment. Concilium, vol. 2, eds. N. Greinacher and N. Mette. Maryknoll: Orbis.
Groome, T. H. (1994). Education, philosophy of. In The modern encyclopedia of Catholicism, eds. M. Glazier and M. K. Hellwig, 275-277. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press.
Groome, T. H. (1994). Forward. A new vision of religious education: Theory, history, practice, and spirituality for DREs, catechists, and teachers, K. Treston, v-vii. Mystic, CT: Twenty-Third Publications.
Groome, T. H. (1992). Forward: Ministry to the lost and found. Quicksilvers: Ministering with junior high youth, by C. Goodwin, v-vii. Mystic, CT.: Twenty-Third Publications.
Groome, T. H. (1992). Catechesis and religious education: Let's stay together. In Living the vision, ed. C. Pfeiffer and J. Manternach, 18-25. Morristown, NJ: Silver Burdett Ginn.
Groome, T. H. (1991). Foreword. Nurturing the spirit: Faith education within Australian Catholicism, M. Trainor, ii-iv. North Blackburn, Vic.: Collins Dove.
Groome, T. H. (1990). Alcuin. In Harper’s Encyclopedia of Religious Education, eds. I. V. Cully and K. B. Cully, 27. Harper and Row: San Francisco.
Groome, T. H. (1990). Comenius, John Amos. In Harper’s Encyclopedia of Religious Education, eds. I. V. Cully and K. B. Cully, 141-142. Harper and Row: San Francisco.
Groome, T. H. (1990). Dialectic(s). In Harper’s Encyclopedia of Religious Education, eds. I. V. Cully and K. B. Cully, 188. Harper and Row: San Francisco.
Groome, T. H. (1990). Marx, Karl. In Harper’s Encyclopedia of Religious Education, eds. I. V. Cully and K. B. Cully, 397-398. Harper and Row: San Francisco.
Groome, T. H. (1990). Praxis. In Harper’s Encyclopedia of Religious Education, eds. I. V. Cully and K. B. Cully, 493-494. Harper and Row: San Francisco.
Groome, T. H. (1990). Reign of God. In Harper’s Encyclopedia of Religious Education, eds. I. V. Cully and K. B. Cully, 543-545. Harper and Row: San Francisco.
Groome, T. H. (1989). A religious educator's proposal. In The education of the practical theologian: A response to Joseph Hough and John Cobb’s Christian identity and theological education, ed. D. Browning, 77-93. Atlanta, GA: Scholars Press.
Groome, T. H. (1987). Theology on our feet: A revisionist pedagogy for healing the gap between academia and ecclesia. In Formation and reflection: The promise of practical theology, eds. L. S. Mudge and J. N. Poling, 55-78. Philadelphia: Fortress Press.
Groome, T. H. (1987). Shared praxis: An ordinary approach to evangelization. Evangelization in America, ed. K. Boyack, 146-159. Paramus, N.J.: Paulist Press.
Groome, T. H. (1986). Walking humbly with our God. In To act justly, love tenderly, walk humbly, W. Brueggemann, S. D. Parks, and T. H. Groome, 44-65. New York: Paulist Press.
Groome, T. H. (1986). On being “with” late adolescents in ministry. In Readings in youth ministry, volume I: foundations, ed. J. Roberto, 17-32. Washington, D.C.: National Federation for Catholic Youth Ministry.
Groome, T. H. (1986). Introduction: “Catechesis for a new liturgical consciousness.” Catechesis for Liturgy, G. Ostdiek, v-vii. Washington, DC: The Pastoral Press.
Groome, T. H. (1985). Reflections of a facilitator. In Adult Learning and the Parish, ed. N. A. Parent. Dubuque: W.C. Brown.
Groome, T. H. (1984). Experience/story/vision. Beautiful upon the mountains: A handbook for church education in Appalachia, eds. W. D. C. Wyckoff and H. T. Wilkinson. Memphis: Board of Christian Education, Cumberland Presbyterian Church.
Groome, T. H. (1984). And the Word was made flesh. In Dimensions of the Word: Exploring a ministry, ed. G. Baumbach, 47-71. New York: Sadlier.
Groome, T. H. (1983). Religious education for justice by educating justly. In Education for peace and justice, ed. P. O’Hare, 69-82. San Francisco: Harper and Row.
Groome, T. H. (1982). From chauvinism and clericalism to priesthood: The long march. In Women and Religion, ed. R. Coll, 111-126. New York: Paulist Press.
Groome, T. H. (1978). Christian education for freedom. In Foundations of religious education, ed. P. O’Hare, 48-74. New York: Paulist Press.
Scholarly and Pastoral Articles, Brief Works and Pamphlets, and Study/Catechetical Guides
Boys, M. C. and T. H. Groome (1982). Principles and pedagogy in biblical study. Religious Education 77 (5): 486-507.
Groome, T. H. (2014). Catholic education: from and for faith. International Studies in Catholic Education 6 (2): 113-127.
Groome, T. H. (2012, Fall). Handing on the faith: More than instruction. C21 Resources: 2-8.
Groome, T. H. (2012.) Y aura-t-il encoré de la foi?: tout dépend. Trans. R. Brodeur. Lumen Vitae 67 (4): 407-423.
Groome, T. H. (2011, Fall). Parents and communion: Lifting the veil. C21 Resources: 9-10.
Groome, T. H. (2011, Fall). Instruction plan. Boston College Magazine: 44-46.
Groome, T. H. (2011, Summer). A new apologetics for Christian faith. The Well 4 (1): 9-11.
Groome, T. H. (2011). From life to faith to life: Some traces. Journal of Adult Theological Education 8 (1): 8-23.
Groome, T. H. (2010, Winter). The seven Sacraments and the sacramentality of life. The Well 3 (1): 5.
Groome, T. H. (2010, Winter). The fertile and fruitful Word of God. The Well 3 (1): 3-4.
Groome, T. H. (2010, April). The darkest hour: An aisling. Doctrine and Life 60 (4): 13-19.
Groome, T. H. (2010, Spring). A shared praxis model for Bible study. Review & Expositor 107 (2): 177-196.
Groome, T. H. (2010, Spring). Educating for a faith that does justice. The Well 3 (2): 3-4.
Groome, T. H. (2010). The “mind of the church” in the General Directory for Catechesis. Theoforum 41 (1): 11-29.
Groome, T. H. (2009, April). Staying Catholic: The ties that bind. Ligourian 97: 30-34.
Groome, T. H. (2009, Feb.). Tempted by Satan, served by angels. The Tablet: 13.
Groome, T. H. (2009, Feb.). From the mouth of a babe. The Tablet: 12-13.
Groome, T. H. (2008, July/Aug.). Benedict XVI: Pilgrim of hope with a new apologetic. Catechetical Leader 19(4): U1-U4.
Groome, T. H. (2008, May). Religious education and catechesis: No divorce – for the children’s sake (reprint). The Well 1 (1).
Groome, T. H. (2008, Spring). Total community catechesis for lifelong faith formation. Lifelong Faith 2 (1): 30-39.
Groome, T. H. (2008, Feb.). Catechesis amidst religious pluralism. Catechetical Leader 19 (1): 1-4.
Groome, T. H. (2007, Nov.). Religious education and catechesis: No divorce – for the children’s sake. Catholic Education 16 (4): 12-14.
Groome, T. H. (2007, Fall). Advice to beginners—and to myself. Religious Education 102 (4): 362-366.
Groome, T. H. (2007, March/April). Visions and dreams for our pilgrim way. Catechetical Leader 18 (2).
Groome, T. H. (2007, Feb.). The ‘fertile and fruitful’ word of God: Re-centering the Bible in Catholic faith. Today’s Parish Minister 29 (2): 19-22.
Groome, T. H. (2006, Dec.). Why do Catholics ...? Every Day Catholic. Cincinnati, OH: St. Anthony’s Messenger Press.
Groome, T. H. (2006, Oct.). For a shared Christian praxis approach and against a detractor. Intercom 36 (8).
Groome, T. H. (2006, Oct.). Today’s parish leader: Part 2 of 2: Catholic identity, living as disciples. Today’s Parish Minister 38 (6): 19-22.
Groome, T. H. (2006, Sept.). Who then can be saved? Every Day Catholic. Cincinnati, OH: Cincinnati, OH: St. Anthony’s Messenger Press.
Groome, T. H. (2006, Sept.). Catholic identity: Today’s parish leader: Part 1 of 2. Today’s Parish Minister 35 (5): 19-22.
Groome, T. H. (2006, June). The Sacraments – and more. Every Day Catholic. Cincinnati, OH: St. Anthony’s Messenger Press.
Groome, T. H. (2006, May). Catholic identity and education in postmodern times. Le Cheile 5: 4-6.
Groome, T. H. (2006, April). Why we need the church. Every Day Catholic. Cincinnati, OH: St. Anthony’s Messenger Press.
Groome, T. H. (2006, March/April). Total community catechesis. The Pastoral Review: 17-23.
Groome, T. H. (2006, March). La catéchèse fidèle dans un monde de dissidents. Lumen Vitae 61 (1): 101-117.
Groome, T. H. (2006, Spring). Bringing life to faith and faith to life. Compass 40 (3): 17-24.
Groome, T. H. (2005, Oct.). How the rosary teaches us to pray. Catholic Digest: 28-34.
Groome, T. H. (2005, March). We believe in the resurrection. Catholic Update. Cincinnati, OH: St. Anthony's Messenger Press.
Groome, T. H. (2004, Winter). Toward total catechetical education. C21 Resources: 3-5.
Groome, T. H. (2004, Sept.). Nine things that make us Catholic. Catholic Update. Cincinnati, OH: St. Anthony's Messenger Press.
Groome, T. H. (2003, Fall). Remembering and imagining: The tree in the seed. Religious Education 98 (4): 511-520.
Groome, T. H. (2003, April/May). American Catholic schools and the common good. Momentum 34 (2): 26-29.
Groome, T. H. (2002, Dec.1). Professor Groome replies [to: Religious education and catechesis, No divorce – just separation, by Thomas Deenihan]. The Furrow 53 (12): 690-691.
Groome, T. H. (2002, Nov. 1). Religious education and catechesis: Let's stay together. The Furrow 53 (11): 587-596.
Groome, T. H. (2002, Fall). Total catechetical education. Concilium 2002 (4): 79-87. (Can also be cited as Groome T. H. (2002). Total catechetical education. In Religious education of boys and girls, ed. by W. G. Jeanrond and L. S. Cahill, 79-87. London: SCM Press.)
Groome, T. H. (2002, June). Modeling a catechetical-liturgical alliance. Liturgical Catechesis 5 (3): 4-7.
Groome, T. H. (2001, Summer). Conversion, nurture or both: Toward lifelong religious education. The Living Light 37 (4): 16-29.
Groome, T. H. (2000, June/July). Sent forth to educate for life. The Catechist Connection 15 (10).
Groome, T. H. (1999, Nov./Dec.). Education for wisdom: Catholic education instills a wisdom for life. Momentum 30 (4): 23-25.
Groome, T. H. (1999, Aug./Sept.). Teaching a life-giving theology. Priests and People 13 (8/9): 297-302.
Groome, T. H. (1998, July 16). School choice: getting “left” aboard. The Christian Science Monitor 90 (162): 15.
Groome, T. H. (1998, Summer). Holistic, inclusive, comprehensive catechesis. The Living Light 34 (4): 66-74.
Groome, T. H. (1998, March). Hope for the dirty hands: A new General Directory for Catechesis. The Furrow 49 (4): 220-228.
Groome, T. H. (1998). Faith demands stewardship and stewardship nurtures faith. [Crownsville, MD]: National Catholic Community Foundation.
Groome, T. H. (1998). Catholic education: It’s a long story, Archbishop Gerety lecture. [South Orange, NJ]: Seton Hall University.
Groome, T. H. (1997). Trust the Spirit within. The Beginning Catechist. Allen, TX: Tabor.
Groome, T. H. (1997, Spring). Religious knowing: Still looking for that tree. Religious Education 92 (2): 204-226.
Groome, T. H. (1996, Fall). Keeping our own salt savory. The Catechist Connection.
Groome, T. H. (1995, Winter). Looking back on 25 years: A personal reflection. The Living Light 32: 73-81. (substantially the same as the previous essay)
Groome, T. H. (1995, Dec.). Of silver jubilees and the ground gained. PACE: 13-20.
Groome, T. H. (1994, Fall). Wisdom from the heat of the day. PACE.
Groome, T. H. (1994, Spring). Sweeping statement: the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Boston College Magazine 53 (2): 30-35.
Groome, T. H. (1994, Feb.) The poor in the Catechism. The Catechist Connection 9:95.
Groome, T. H. (1994, Jan.). Identity and change in religious education. The Way 34 (1): 36-45.
Groome, T. H. (1994). Pointers to new possibilities for Christian religious education. The Clergy Journal 70 (6): 5-10. [Reprint from Australian Ministry 5 (2): 4-9]
Groome, T. H. (1993, Spring). The movements of shared Christian praxis. PACE.
Groome, T. H. (1993). You Are invaluable. Religion Teachers Journal 25 (5): 4-9.
Groome, T. H. (1993). What is this faith we share? Church Teachers 21 (2): 50-53.
Groome, T. H. (1993). Pointers to new possibilities for religious education. Australian Ministry 5 (2): 4-9.
Groome, T. H. (1992, Winter). What parishes teach children. Church 8 (4): 43-45.
Groome, T. H. (1992, Nov.). An overview of shared Christian praxis. PACE 22: 3-5.
Groome, T. H. (1992, Sept./Oct.). A noble past, an open future. Oblate Missionary Record: 30-33.
Groome, T. H. (1992, Fall). Ministering to teenagers. Church 8 (3): 46-48.
Groome, T. H. (1992, Summer). Ministering to and with young adults. Church 8 (2): 44-46.
Groome, T. H. (1992, Spring). Lectionary based catechesis. Church 8 (1): 14-20.
Groome, T. H. (1992, Spring). An adult way of doing adult education. Church 8 (1): 40-42.
Groome, T. H. (1992). Why Catholic Teachers in Catholic Schools?. [Ottawa, Ontario: Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops].
Groome, T. H. (1992). A future for Christian religious education. Doctrine and Life 42 (6): 368-376.
Groome, T. H. (1992). Catechesis and religious education: Lets stay together. Living Light 29: 40-46.
Groome, T. H. (1991, Winter). No cheap grace in catechesis. Church 7 (4): 39-40.
Groome, T. H. (1991, Winter). Inclusive language in the liturgy. PACE 20: 130‑136.
Groome, T. H. (1991, Nov.). Catechesis: Practice and theory Modern Liturgy 18 (10): 7-9.
Groome, T. H. (1991, Fall). The missions and religious education. Oblate Missionary Record, Centenary Edition.
Groome, T. H. (1991, Fall). Learning by heart. Church 7 (3): 38-40.
Groome, T. H. (1991, Summer). To blossom all the more. The Carlovian 43: 31-33.
Groome, T. H. (1991. May). Wisdom in Christian faith. The Catechist's Connection 7 (69): 1-2.
Groome, T. H. (1990, Fall). Parish as catechist. Church 6 (3): 23-27.
Groome, T. H. (1990, Fall). Inclusive language in the life of the church. PACE 20: 95‑100.
Groome, T. H. (1990, Summer). Using praxis in your classroom. Youth Worker: 20-26.
Groome, T. H. (1988, Winter). The spirituality of the religious educator. Religious Education 82 (1): 9-20.
Groome, T. H. (1986, Nov.). The heart of catechesis. The Catechist's Connection 4 (24): 1-4.
Groome, T. H. (1986, Oct.). Shared praxis: A possibility for Jesuit religious education? Jesuit Secondary Education Association, News Bulletin XVII (2): 4-8.
Groome, T. H. (1986, March) Fruitful tension, socialization and shared praxis. The Living Light 22 (3): 231-233.
Groome, T. H. (1985, Jan.). Seven/eleven year olds: Teaching them to pray. Praying 4: 13-16.
Groome, T. H. (1984, Winter). On being with late adolescents in ministry. Journal of Youth Ministry II (1): 3-14.
Groome, T. H. (1983, Fall). Old task: urgent challenge. Religious Education 78 (4): 492-96.
Groome, T. H. (1982, May). Signs of hope for religious education. PACE 12 (8): 1-4.
Groome, T. H. (1982, April). Signs of hope for theology. PACE 12 (7): 1-4.
Groome, T. H. (1982, March). Signs of hope for the priesthood. PACE 12 (6): 1-5.
Groome, T. H. (1982, Feb.). Signs of hope in the diversification of ministries. PACE 12 (5): 1-4.
Groome, T. H. (1982, Jan.). Signs of hope in the struggle against sexism. PACE 12 (4): 1-5.
Groome, T. H. (1981, Dec.). Signs of hope for an inclusive spirituality. PACE 12 (3): 1-4.
Groome, T. H. (1981, Nov.). Signs of hope at the grassroots. PACE 12 (2): 1-4.
Groome, T. H. (1981, Oct.). Proclaiming the hope that is in us. PACE 12 (1): 1-5.
Groome, T. H. (1981, Sept./Oct.). Conversion, nurture and religious education. Religious Education 76 (5): 482‑496.
Groome, T. H. (1978, Fall). Christian education: A task of present dialectical hermeneutics. The Living Light 14: 408‑423.
Groome, T. H. (1978, Spring). The ministry of the Christian educator, PACE 8: 2‑10.
Groome, T. H. (1977, May/June). The critical principle in Christian education and the task of prophecy. Religious Education 72 (3): 262‑272.
Groome, T. H. (1977, March). The Crossroads: A story of Christian education by shared praxis. Lumen Vitae 32 (1): 45‑71.
Groome, T. H. (1976, June). Shared Christian praxis: A possible theory/method of religious education. Lumen Vitae 31: 186‑208.
Imbelli, R. P. and T. H. Groome. (1992). Signposts towards a pastoral theology. Theological Studies 53: 127-137.
Groome, T. H. (2012, Nov. 12). For Oboma because against abortion. Pathos http://www.patheos.com//News-and-Politics/Obama-Abortion-Thomas-Groome-11-05-2012.html. (Accessed August 04, 2015).
Groome, T. H. (2011, Feb.). Father, son, and holy homecoming. Catholic Digest 75 (4): 84-87.
Groome, T. H. (2003, April). Catholics should be more catholic. U.S. Catholic 68 (4): 32-35.
Groome, T. H. (2002). Sins--and crimes-- of the fathers: The shame of priest pedophilia scandals must lead us to repentance and change. U. S. Catholic 67 (4): 50-51. (Originally published in Newsday)
Groome, T. H. (2002, May 19). Celibacy and women’s ordination must remain on the table. Boston Globe.
Groome, T. H. (2001, Winter). Facing tragedy with faith. Newsletter of National Conference of Catechetical Leaders.
Groome, T. H. (2001, Sept. 25). Op Ed: Tragedy and the paradox of faith. The Day.
Groome, T. H. (2001, Fall). Editorial. REACH: The newsletter of the Religious Education Association.
Groome, T. H. (1999. May/June). Catechesis for life. Faith Works 1 (9).
Groome, T. H. (1998, August 23). Advice to President: Fire your theologian. The Boston Sunday Globe.
Groome, T. H. (1998, July 16). School choice: Getting “left” aboard. Christian Science Monitor.
Groome, T. H. (1998, Feb. 10). And infuse education with more spiritual values. Christian Science Monitor 89 (52): 19.
Groome, T. H. (1998, Jan.11). Schools need souls. The Day.
Groome, T. H., gen. ed. (2011-2014). Credo Series. Westerville, OH: Veritas.
- Core Texts
Book 1: God’s Word Revealed in Sacred Scripture (Freshmen Semester 1)
Book 2: Son of God and Son of Mary (Freshmen Semester 2)
Book 3: The Promised One: Servant and Savior (Sophomores Semester 1)
Book 4: The Body of Christ: The Church (Sophomores Semester 2)
Book 5: Encountering Christ in the Sacraments (Juniors Semester 1)
Book 6: Living and Loving as Disciples of Christ (Juniors Semester 2)
- Electives: (Schools chose two of the electives for the Senior Year students)
Book 7: Exploring Sacred Scripture
Book 8: Living as a Disciple of Jesus in Society
Book 9: Responding to the Call of Jesus Christ
Book 10 Ecumenical and Interreligious Studies (Available Spring 2016)
Book 11 The History of the Catholic Church (Available Autumn 2016)
- The series, the series fulfills the curriculum requirements presented in the United States Conference of Catholics Bishops, Doctrinal Elements of a Curriculum Framework for the Development of Catechetical Materials for Young People of High School Age.
[Groome, T. H. (primary author)]. (2007). We live our faith as members of the church, eighth grade. New York: Sadlier.
[Groome, T. H. (primary author)]. (2007). We live our faith as disciples of Jesus, seventh grade. New York: Sadlier.
Groome, T. H. and M. M. Moss, co-authors, with V. Esquinaldo, illustrator. (2002). God is here, when bad things happen. Boston: Pauline Books & Media.
Groome, T. H. (primary author), and G. F. Baumbach. (2000). First Eucharist. New York: Sadlier.
Groome, T. H. (primary author), and G. F. Baumbach. (2000). First reconciliation. New York: Sadlier.
Groome, T. H. (primary author), et al. (1989-1990). Coming to faith program, parish edition (8 volume original, 9 volumes after 1994). New York. Sadlier.
Groome, T. H. (primary author), et al. (1988-1990). Coming to faith program, Catholic school edition (8 volume original, 9 volumes after 1994). New York. Sadlier.
- The original release of both editions of the Coming to faith program consisted of the following volumes:
Coming to God, First Grade
Coming to Jesus, Second Grade
Coming to the Church, Third Grade
Coming to God's Love, Fourth Grade
Coming to God's Life, Fifth Grade
Coming to God's Word, Sixth Grade
Coming to the Catholic Faith, Seventh Grade
Coming to the Catholic Church, Eighth Grade
- The Coming to faith program was revised in 1992, 1994, and 1996.
- Beginning with the 1994 revised program a Coming to God’s World, Kindergarten volume was added.
- For each edition of the Coming to Faith program there is also a teacher’s annotated guide.
Groome, T. H. (primary author), et al. (1983-1985). The God with us program, Catholic school guide (edition) (9 volumes). New York. Sadlier.
Groome, T. H. (primary author), et al. (1983-1985). The God with us program, parish catechist guide (edition) (9 volumes). New York. Sadlier.
- Both editions of The God with us program consisted of the following volumes:
Growing in God's World: Kindergarten
Growing With God: First Grade
Growing With Jesus: Second Grade
Growing With the Church: Third Grade
Growing With God's Love: Fourth Grade
Growing With God's Life: Fifth Grade
Growing With God's Word: Sixth Grade
Growing With the Catholic Faith: Seventh Grade
Growing With the Catholic Church: Eighth Grade
- A separate text titled Growing with the Commandments was published by Sadlier in 1988. It contains the lessons on the 10 Commandments from Growing With the Catholic Faith: Seventh Grade.
- For the Catholic school edition there is a Resource and Review Book. For the parish catechist edition there is a Parish Catechist Guide Book.
Groome, T. H. (2011, April 4). Review of the book: Why stay Catholic: Unexpected answers to a life-changing question, by M. Leach. America 204 (11): 31-33.
Groome, T. H. (2008, May 2). Changing a feudal church; Review of Robert McClory, As It was in the beginning: The coming democratization of the Catholic Church. National Catholic Reporter 44 (18): 23.
Groome, T. H. (2007, October 15). Review of the book: Passing on the faith: transforming traditions for the next generation of Jews, Christians, and Muslims, ed. J. Heft. America 197 (11): 31-32.
Groome, T. H. (2006, Oct.). For the Repair of the World. [Review of the book: Spiritual companions: Jews, Christians and interreligious relations, by Padraic O’Hare] The Furrow 57 (10): 567-570.
Groome, T. H. (1993, Spring). Review of the book: A fundamental practical theology: Descriptive and strategic proposals, by D. Browning. Horizons: 20 (1): 162-63.
Groome, T.H. (1991, Sept.). Review of the book: Religious education as a second language, by G. Moran. Momentum 21 (3): 78-79.
Groome, T.H. (1991, Fall). Review of the book: The Christian initiation of children, by R. D. Duggan and M. A. Kelly. The Living Light 28 (1):86-87.
Groome (1986, Winter). Review of the book: Foundations for a social theology: Praxis, process and salvation, by D. A. Lane. Religious Education 81 (1): 154-155.
Groome, (1983, July). Review of the book: Vision and character: A Christian educator’s alternative to Kohlberg, by C. Dyksta. Theology Today 40 (2): 250.
Groome, T. H. (1982, May/June). Letty Russell: Keeping the rumor alive. [Review of the book: Growth in partnership, by L. Russell] Religious Education 77 (3): 350-53.
Groome, T. H. (1981, May/June). Review of the book: The theory of Christian education practice, by R. C. Miller. Religious Education 76 (3): 337-39.
Groome, T. H. (1976). Review of the book: Taylor, Marvin (1976, Winter). Foundations of Christian education, by M. Taylor. The Living Light 13 (4): 628.
Bilodeau, G. (facilitator) and T. H. Groome (reflector). (1991, July 5). The Catholic Worker as school: How does learning in the Catholic Worker? Chestnut Hill, MA: The Catholic Worker International Gathering. (1 casette)
Groome, T. H. (2002). Meadville/Lombard winter institute, 2002: Spiritual nurture in a postmodern society. Madison, Wis.: M/L Winter Institute. (5 cassettes)
Groome, T. H. (2002). What makes us Catholic [eight gifts for life]. Prince Frederick, MD: Recorded Books. (8 cassettes)
Groome, T. H. (1995). A Spirituality for everyone. (Religious Education Congress, Anaheim, CA) Simi Valley, CA: Convention Seminar Cassettes. (1 cassette)
Groome, T. H. (1995). Reading and integrating the Catechism of the Catholic Church. (Religious Education Congress, Anaheim, CA) Simi Valley, CA: Convention Seminar Cassettes. (1 cassette)
Groome, T. H., and R. D. Duggan (1994). Modeling a catechetical/liturgical alliance. (58th Annual Meeting and Exposition, National Conference of Catechetical Leadership) Ft. Mitchell, KY: MAC Audio Duplication Services. (2 cassettes)
Groome, T. H. (1992). Professional update; religious education. (20th East Coast Conference for Religious Education, Washington, DC) Elkridge, MD : Chesapeake Audio/Video Communications. (1 cassette)
Groome, T. H. (1989, Nov. 14-17). Chapel address, Julius Brown Gay lectures, 1989-1990. [1. The whole faith community as Christian educator; Christian faith education: the mind alone--not enough -- 2. Christian faith education: the marrow bone--nothing less; The minister as cracked pot.] Louisville, KY: Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. (2 cassettes)
Groome, T. H. (1989). Discussion in conjunction with the Gay lecture series. Louisville, KY: Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. (1 cassette)
Groome, T. H. (1988). Christian education for liberation: A shared praxis approach for Christian education; the movements of shared Christian praxis in the local church setting. Enid, OK: Philips University. (4 cassettes)
Groome, T. H. (1987). Liberation and the task of religious education. (15th East Coast Conference for Religious Education, Washington, DC) Elkridge, MD : Chesapeake Audio/Video Communications. (1 cassette)
Groome, T. H. (1983, 1986, 1987). The heart of Catholic education. Kansas City, MO: National Catholic Reporter Pub. Co. (2 cassettes)
Groome, T. H. (1986). Until break of day: On the foundations of religious education. Kansas City, MO: Credence Cassettes.
Groome, T. H. (1986). Spirituality of the religious educator. New Haven: Religious Education Association. (1 cassette)
Groome, T. H. (1980-1986?). The kingdom of God: What did Jesus mean? Albuquerque, NM : [s.n]. (1 cassette)
Groome, T. H. (1983). Signs of hope for ministry. Kansas City, MO: National Catholic Reporter Pub. Co. (1 cassette)
Groome, T. H, and J. A. Urquhart. (1983). Meadville/Lombard winter institute, February 14-17, 1983: A praxis approach to religious education. Madison: University of Wisconsin. (8 cassettes)
Groome, T. H. (1983). Forms and functions for ministry of the future? (15th Mile High Congress, Denver, CO) Denver, CO: Meyer Communication Corp. (1 cassette)
Groome, T. H. (1983). Characteristics of Catholicism; partners in faith. Kansas City, MO : National Catholic Reporter Pub. Co. (2 cassettes)
Groome, T. H. (1981). Teaching religion with story and vision. Kansas City, KS: New Life: Cassettes. (6 cassettes)
Groome, T. H. and M. C. Boys (1981). Principles and pedagogy in biblical praxis. New Haven: Religious Education Association. (2 cassettes)
Groome, T. H. (n.d). All Cracked Pots. [Chicago:] Sunday Evening Club.
Groome, T. H. (n.d). I Am Not the Messiah. [Chicago:] Sunday Evening Club.
Groome, T. H. (n.d). My Name is Jairus. [Chicago:] Sunday Evening Club.
Hater, R., E. Ford, B. Husson, T. H. Groome, D. Thomas, L. Freeman, M. C. Widger, M. Sugpon, J. Fowler, and J. Lajo. (1983, November 11-13). “A harvest gathering:” Fifteenth annual Mile High Congress. Denver, CO: Meyer Communication Corp. (12 sound recordings)
Sound Recordings of Curricula
Groome, T. H., et al. (1993). Growing with the Catholic church, standard edition. New York: Xavier Society for the Blind.
Groome, T. H., et al. (1989). Coming to the church, parish edition. New York: Xavier Society for the Blind.
Groome, T. H., et al. (1989). Coming to the Catholic faith, Catholic school edition. New York: Xavier Society for the Blind.
Groome, T. H., et al. (1989). Coming to God’s word, parish edition. New York: Xavier Society for the Blind.
Groome, T. H., et al. (1985). Growing with the Catholic faith, standard edition. New York: Xavier Society for the Blind.
Groome, T. H., et al. (1983). Growing with the church, standard edition. New York: Xavier Society for the Blind.
Gordon, E. F. and M. Rotunno. (2007). Echoes of Faith: Catechist. (Includes interviews with T. H. Groome and R. Pacatte) Allen, TX: Resources for Christian Living. (1 videocassette)
Groome, T. H. (2006). What makes us Catholic. [Lebanon, IN]: Silver Burdette Ginn Religion. (9 videocassettes)
Groome, T. H. (1989, Nov. 14-17). Chapel address, Julius Brown Gay lectures, 1989-1990. [1. The whole faith community as Christian educator; 2. Christian faith education: the mind alone--not enough; 3. Christian faith education: the marrow bone--nothing less; 4. The minister as cracked pot.] Louisville, KY: Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. (1 videocassette)
Groome, T. H. (1989). The school: A community for life. (96th Convention of the National Catholic Education Assocaition, New Orleans) Elkridge, MD: Chesapeake Audio Communications. (1 videocassette)
Groome, T. H. (1988). Shared Christian praxis and lifelong learning. Denver, CO: Regis College. (1 videocassette)
Groome, T H. (1985). The shared praxis approach to religious education. Allen, TX: Argus Communications. (1 videocassette)
Groome, T. H. (1985). The praxis approach in the God With Us Series. New York: Sadlier. (1 videocassette)
Book Reviews of Books by Thomas H. Groome
American Catholic Studies Newsletter (2010, Fall). Review of the book: Reclaiming Catholicism: Treasurers old and new. American Catholic Studies Newsletter 37 (2): 15.
Arthur, R. H. (1981, Spring). Review of the book: Christian religious education: Sharing our story and vision. Journal of Ecumenical Studies 18 (2): 314.
Astley, J. and L. Bowman. (2012, Jan.). Review of the book: Will there be faith?. Journal of Adult Education 9 (1): 94-99.
Beck, A. (2012, Sept./Oct.). Review of the book: Reclaiming Catholicism: Treasures old and new. Pastoral Review 8 (5): 92-93.
Browning, D. (1982, Oct.). On religious education in a pluralistic world. [Review of the book: Christian religious education: Sharing our story and vision] The Journal of Religion 62 (4): 418-24.
Calle, J. (1981). Review of the book: Christian religious education: Sharing our story and vision. East Asian Pastoral Review 18 (2): 190-196.
Carmody, B. (2013, January). Review of the book: Will there be faith?. British Journal of Religious Education 35 (1): 118-120.
Carmody, B. (1981, June). Review of the book: Christian religious education: Sharing our story and vision. The Furrow 32: 408.
Conrad, R. (1982, April). Review of the book: Christian religious education: Sharing our story and vision. Currents in Theology and Mission 9 (2): 921.
Crain, M. A. (2012, Jan.). Review of the book: Will there be faith?. Religious Education 107 (3): 312-14.
Cunningham, L. S. (1999, April 9). Review of the book: Educating for life: A spiritual vision for every teacher and parent. Commonweal 126 (7): 44-45.
Devenish, P. E. (1994, April). Review of the book: Sharing faith: A comprehensive approach to religious education and pastoral ministry: The way of shared praxis. Journal of Religion 74 (2): 276-277.
Devettere, R. (1980, Dec.). Review of the book: Christian religious education: Sharing our story and vision. Theological Studies 41: 808.
DiGiacomo, J. (1981, October 10). Review of the book: Christian religious education: Sharing our story and vision. America 145:203.
Dykstra, C. (1982, June). Review of the book: Christian religious education: Sharing our story and vision. New Review of Books and Religion 4 (10): 7+.
Edge, F. B. (1982, Summer). Review of the book: Christian religious education: Sharing our story and vision. Review & Expositor 79 (3): 551-552.
Foster, C. R. (1982, Fall). Review of the book: Christian religious education: Sharing our story and vision. Quarterly Review 2 (3): 98-107.
Fox, M. (1999). Review of the book: Educating for life: A spiritual vision for every teacher and parent. Journal of Catholic Education 2 (3): 369-370.
Fox, T. C. (2004, Feb. 27). Mapping the spirituality of Catholicism. [Review of the book: What makes us Catholic] National Catholic Reporter 40 (17): 21.
Frazier, D. (2003). Review of the book: What makes us Catholic: Eight gifts for life. Journal of Catholic Education 7 (2): 281-283.
Garrotto, A. J. (2013, Feb.). Review of the book: Catholic spiritual practices: A Treasury of old and new. U.S. Catholic 78 (2): 51.
Greg, C. (2011, Sept. 30). Review of the book: Will there be faith?. Pathos http://www.patheos.com/blogs/carlgregg/2011/09/book-review-will-there-be-faith-by-thomas-groome/ (accessed Nov. 11, 2014)
Groden, J. (2003, March). Review of the book: Educating for life: A spiritual vision for every teacher and parent. The Furrow 54 (3): 181-186.
Heiser, W. (1992, Autumn). Review of the book: Sharing faith: A comprehensive approach to religious education and pastoral ministry: The way of shared praxis. Theology Digest 39: 265.
Henessey, M. (1992, Spring). Review of the book: Sharing faith: A comprehensive approach to religious education and pastoral ministry: The way of shared praxis. Books and Religion: 25-26.
Hess, C. L. (2003, Winter). Review of the book: Horizons and hopes: The future of religious education. Journal of Family Ministry 17 (4): 93-94.
Hess, C. L. (1993). Review of the book: Sharing faith: A comprehensive approach to religious education and pastoral ministry: The way of shared praxis. Princeton Seminary Bulletin 14 (1): 106-107.
Holst, W. A. (2002, Aug. 16). Review of the book: What makes us Catholic: Eight gifts for life. National Catholic Reporter 38 (36): 19.
Horan, M. (1993, Summer). Living, Conscious…and Metapurposeful. [Review of the book: Sharing faith: A comprehensive approach to religious education and pastoral ministry: The way of shared praxis] Cross Currents 43 (2): 268-69.
Haggerty, B. A. (1980, Dec. 31). Shared Praxis. [Review of the book: Christian religious education: Sharing our story and vision] Christian Century 97 (4): 1298-1300.
Irwin, J. L. (1992, Fall). Review of the book: Language for a catholic church: A program of study. Journal of Ecumenical Studies 29 (3/4): 481-482.
Kaczor, C. (1992, Oct.). Review of the book: Language for a catholic church: A program of study. Crisis 10: 55-56.
Kennedy, L. A. (2003, Sept.) Review of the book: What makes us Catholic: Eight gifts for life. Catholic Insight: 11 (7): 42-43.
Kujawa-Holbrook, S. A. (1993, Winter). Review of the book: Sharing faith: A comprehensive approach to religious education and pastoral ministry: The way of shared praxis. Anglican Theological Review 75 (1): 155-57.
Lebeau, P. (1981). Review of the book: Christian religious education: Sharing our story and vision. Lumen Vitae 36 (2): 250.
Marthaler, B. (1993, Spring). Review of the book: Sharing faith: A comprehensive approach to religious education and pastoral ministry: The way of shared praxis. The Living Light 29: 86-87.
Martin, R. K. (1993, Spring). Review of the book: Sharing faith: A comprehensive approach to religious education and pastoral ministry: The way of shared praxis. Koinonia 5 (1): 131-135.
O’Malley, W. J. (2011, Oct. 3). Hope for future church. [Review of the book: Will there be faith?.] America 205 (9): 28-29.
O’Malley, W. J. (1993, May 15). Sharing the Faith. [Review of the book: Sharing faith: A comprehensive approach to religious education and pastoral ministry: The way of shared praxis] America 168: 18-19.
Oppewal. D. (1981, April). Praxis and pedagogy. [Review of the book: Christian religious education: Sharing our story and vision] Reformed Journal 31 (4): 26-37.
Reiss, J., L. Garrett, and J. Zaleski. (2012, Feb. 11). Review of the book: What makes us Catholic: Eight gifs for life. Publishers Weekly 249 (6): 182.
Riley, P. (2002, Nov.). Review of the book: What makes us Catholic: Eight gifs for life. Emmanuel 108 (9): 575-576.
Piraro, D. (2002, Aug.). Review of the book: What makes us Catholic: Eight gifs for life. The Priest 58 (8): 49-50.
Prevost, R. (2012, Summer). Review of the book: Will there be faith?. Review & Expositor 109 (4): 609-10.
Redington, P. E. (2001, Summer). Review of the book: Empowering catechetical leaders. The Living Light 37 (4): 83-84.
Robinson, A. B. (1993, Jan./Feb.). Review of the book: Sharing faith: A comprehensive approach to religious education and pastoral ministry: The way of shared praxis. The Christian Ministry 24 (1): 33-34.
Schulte, A. R. (2011, Sept.). Review of the book: Will there be faith?. U.S. Catholic 76 (9): 51.
Scott, K. (1980) Review of the book: Christian religious education: Sharing our story and vision. New Catholic World 223 (6).
Smith, K. S. (2002, Summer). Review of the book: What makes us Catholic: Eight gifs for life. Church 18 (2): 54-55.
Smith, M. G. (1982, Fall). Review of the book: Christian religious education: Sharing our story and vision. The Westminster Theological Journal 44 (2): 388.
Sullivan, E. V. (1981, Jan./Feb.). Review of the book: Christian religious education: Sharing our story and vision. Religious Education 76 (1) 104-106.
Suther, E. (1993, July). Review of the book: Sharing faith: A comprehensive approach to religious education and pastoral ministry: The way of shared praxis. Worship 67 (4): 373-375.
Sutterfield (2012, Dec. 10). Training in Christianity: A review of the book Catholic spiritual practices. Pathos http://www.patheos.com/blogs/soulwod/2012/12/training-in-christianity/ (accessed August 4, 2015)
Toton, S. C. (1981, Fall). Review of the book: Christian religious education: Sharing our story and vision. Horizons 8 (2): 442-443.
Tozzi, E. (1993, Spring). Review of the book: Sharing faith: A comprehensive approach to religious education and pastoral ministry: The way of shared praxis. Church 9: 59-60.
Tully, M. (1981, May). Review of the book: Christian religious education: Sharing our story and vision. The Critic 29 (2): 5
Van Brummelon, H. (2013). Review of the book: Will there be faith?. Journal of Education & Christian Belief 17 (1): 160-63.
Veverka, F. B. (2003, Summer). Review of the book: What makes us Catholic: Eight gifs for life. American Catholic Studies 114 (2): 82-85.
Walters, T. P. (2004, Spring). Review of the book: Horizons and hopes: The future of religious education. Religious Education 99 (2): 207-209.
Walters, T. (1982, April 9). Review of the book: Christian religious education: Sharing our story and vision. Commonweal 109: 214.
Waters, C. (1982, July). Review of the book: Christian religious education: Sharing our story and vision. Heythrop Journal 23: 317.
Wigger, J. B. (1999, Jan.). Review of the book: Educating for life: A spiritual vision for every teacher and parent. Theology Today 55 (4): 589-590.
Wilkens, M. M. (2004, April). Review of the book: What makes us Catholic: Eight gifs for life. St. Anthony Messenger 111 (11): 50.
Wilkes, P. (2002, April 8-15). Review of the book: What makes us Catholic: Eight gifs for life. America 186 (12): 26-27.
Willumsen, K. L. (1992, Dec.). Review of the book: Sharing faith: A comprehensive approach to religious education and pastoral ministry: The way of shared praxis. Theological Studies 53 (4): 791-792.
Woodbridge, N. B. (2010, Sept.). Review of the book: Sharing faith. A comprehensive approach to religious education and pastoral ministry: The way of shared praxis. Conspectus (South African Theological Seminary)10 (1): 114-132.
Wyckoff, D. C. (1981, Jan.). Review of the book: Christian religious education: Sharing our story and vision. Theology Today 37 (4): 532-535.
Selected Articles about or building upon the Work of T. H. Groome
Beaudoin, T. (2005, Spring). The theological anthropology of Thomas Groome. Religious Education100 (2): 127-38.
Bezzina, M. (1996, October). Shared Christian praxis as the basis for religious education curriculum: The Parramatta Experience (Paper presented at the Annual Conference of the Australian Association of Religious Education, Southport Australia) http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED401266.pdf (accessed 08/09/2015)
Boys, M. C. (1982). Narrative and religious education: A story full of promise. Chicago Studies 21 (1): 85-101.
Brandt, J. H.(2012.) Historical theology. In The Wiley-Blackwell companion to practical theology, ed. B. J. Miller-McLemore, 367-376. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell.
Chizurum, Ugbor (2010). Thomas Groome’s shared Christian praxis as a prophetic pastoral accompaniment with youth: Insights for a pastoral counseling approach in Africa. Africa Theological Journal 31 (1): 45-67.
Dykstra, C. (1999). Chapter 6: The formative power of the congregation. In Growing in the life of faith: Education and Christian practices, 83-96. Louisville, KY: Geneva Press.
Ford, J. (2008, Feb. 1). Reflections on the liberal church: Education as spiritual practice. Pathos http://www.patheos.com/blogs/monkeymind/2008/02/relections-on-the-liberal-church-education-as-spiritual-practice.html (accessed August 4, 2015)
Hobson, P. and L. Welbourne. (1997). A conceptual basis for transformative Christian religious education. Journal of Christian Education 40 (1): 37-46.
Horan, M. (2015). Religious Education that promotes Catholic identity: A review and assessment of approaches. In Prisms of faith: Perspectives on religious education and the cultivation of Catholic identity, eds. R. E. Alvis and T. LaMothe, 133-151. Eugene, OR: Pickwick Publications, 2015.
Kalathuveettil, T. and P. Puthanangady (1992). Shared-praxis as Christian religious education:
the catechetical approach of Thomas H. Groome. Bangalore, India: Kristu Jyoti Publications.
Larson, R. (2005). Livets berättelser: Introduktion till Thomas H. Groomes religionspedagogik. Stockholm: Verbum.
Lehman, V. (1992, April). Reflections on Thomas H. Groome: an opportunity for renewal in Christian education. Journal of Christian Education 35: 7-17.
Ligo, V. (2007, Sept.). Evaluation as pedagogy: Models of theological and pastoral formation. Catholic Education 11 (1): 52-66.
Marangos, F. (1984). Shared Christian praxis: Approaching the Orthodox funeral service. Greek Orthodox Theological Review 29 (2): 195-206.
Meehan, A. (2007). Paradise regained: Teaching science from a Christian standpoint in a postmodern age. Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith 59 (4): 275-282.
Palladino, J. M. and A. Schroeder. (2002, Sept./Oct.). Using the shared Christian praxis in an elementary religion curriculum. Momentum 33 (3): 16-21.
Quezada, R. L. (2011, June). Global student teacher transformation experiences: Living the faith through the shared Christian praxis learning process. Catholic Education 14 (4): 417-440.
Raduntz, H. (1995). Shared praxis approach to Christian religious education:
Why is it not so critical. In Potential and opportunity: Critical issues for Australian Catholic education into the 21st century, ed. H. Raduntz, 191–203. Blackwood, AUS: Auslib.
Rooney, P. (2009). Educational and biblical perspectives for academic achievement in Christian schools. Journal of Christian Education 52 (3): 7-19.
Rossiter, G. M. (1988, Spring). Perspectives on change in Catholic religious education since the Second Vatican Council. Religious Education 83 (2): 264-76.
Scott, K. (1984, Summer). Three traditions of religious education. Religious Education 79 (3): 323-29.
Seymour, J. L. (1996). Contemporary approaches to Christian education. In Theological perspectives on Christian formation: A reader on theology and Christian education, eds. F Asley, L. J. Francis, and C. Crowder, 3-13. Grand Rapid, MI: W. B. Eerdmans.
Sheridan, N. Y. (1987, Sept.-Oct.). Shared Christian praxis: an evaluation of Thomas Groome’s methodology. New Catholic World: 231-251.
Smallbones, J. (1986). Thomas Groome’s shared Christian praxis. Journal of Christian Education 7 (1): 57-67.
Sorenssen, K. M. (1993, April/May). Rebuilding broken lives. Momentum 24 (2): 20-25.
Street, J. L. (1988, Spring). A shared praxis approach. Religious Education 83 (2): 234-42.
Steinhoff Smith, R. H. (1977). Dialogue: hermeneutical and practical. Pastoral Psychology 45 (6): 439-449.
Wassner, W. J. (1987). Institutional violence: A challenge to the church and pastoral care. Encounter 48 (3): 293-307.
Wong, A. C. K., B. McAlpine, T. Moore, D. Brotherton, I. R. Charter, E. Emgård, F. Buszuwski (2009, Oct.). Learning through shared Christian praxis: Reflective practice in the classroom. Teaching Theology & Religion 12 (4): 305-20.
Doctoral Dissertations and Theses Reviewing or Building upon the Work of T. H. Groome
Anderson, K. R. (2002). A protocol for assessing and developing spiritual formation among Council for Christian Colleges and Universities schools in North America. D.Min. George Fox University, George Fox Evangelical Seminary.
Bacon, W. R. (1993). Shared praxis as an inquiry into the Christian faith of young adults. Ed.D. Trinity Evangelical Divinity School.
Blocher, K. M. (2009). Rehearsing resurrection by practicing what we proclaim. D.Min. Lancaster Theological Seminary.
Bower, T. R. (2003). Identifying current uses of philosophies of critical pedagogy in religious education. Ed.D. Union Theological Seminary and Presbyterian School of Christian Education.
Brocious, R. A. (1991). Thomas Groome’s “Shared Christian Praxis:” an alternative paradigm for Southern Baptist theological education. Ed.D. The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
Burwell, J. S. (2012). From checkpoints to classrooms: The managerial challenges facing Catholic school leaders in East Jerusalem and the West Bank and their relation to and influence on school Catholicity. Ph.D. University of Manitoba (Canada).
Cappel, J. J. (1994). An administrative model based on Thomas Groome’s Christian religious education. Ed.D. The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
Coleman, R. W. (1991). A Critical evaluation of the curriculum of the school of Christian education of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary: 1950-1990. Ed.D. Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
Confoy, M. P. (1981). Adult faith development and Christian religious education. Ph.D. Boston College.
Crawford, J. M. (2008). Extending Lasallian charism: Its texts and lived contexts for the spirituality of teachers. Ph.D. Boston College.
Erickson, R. C. Jr. (1996). From compassion to Koinonia: Shifting the paradigm for homeless ministry from a parental model to a partnership in the Gospel. D.Min. Princeton Theological Seminary.
Fenrick, D. E. (2007). Mission experiential education for developing Christian global citizens. Ph.D. Asbury Theological Seminary.
Hagarty, M. T. (2000). The role of “experience” in religious education/catechesis in the United States since the Second Vatican Council: An analysis and critique. Ph.D. The Catholic University of America.
Howell, P.J. (1985). Toward a better understanding of religious life: A workshop based on a narrative theology (Groome). D.Min. The Catholic University of America.
Hurtado, P. (2007). Promoting the spirituality of the permanent deacon by means of theological reflection in small faith communities. D.Min. The Catholic University of America.
Imbrigiotta R.A. (2015). Blessed are the sorrowing: A case study exploring the need for a comprehensive ministry of consolation. D.Min. Saint Mary Seminary and Graduate School of Theology.
Jantzi, K. (2005). Faith literacy: Expanding the definition of education in faith communities. Ph.D. Temple University.
Johnson-Miller, B. C. (2000). The complexity of religious transformation. Ph.D. School of Theology at Claremont.
Kalathuveettil, T. (1992). Groome's "Shared Christian Praxis" approach: a critical analysis of its educational, philosophical and theological foundations. Ph.D. Universita Pontificia Salesiana (Rome).
Kasonga, K. (1988). Toward revisioning Christian education in Africa: A critical reinterpretation of hope and imagination in the light of African understanding of Muoyo. Ph.D. Princeton Theological Seminary.
Kim, I. (2005). Shared poiesis: A critical dialogue and creative synthesis of the pedagogical proposals of Thomas Groome and Maxine Greene. Ph.D. Union Theological Seminary and Presbyterian School of Christian Education.
Kinnison, Q. P. (2008). Pastoral leadership in transitioning communities: Congregational praxis as interpretive leadership. Ph.D. Fuller Theological Seminary, School of Theology.
Krivak, J. A. (1993). An analysis of Thomas Groome’s philosophy of Christian religious education in the light of Richard Paul’s concerns for promoting critical thinking in education. Ed.D. Lehigh University.
Leuze, T. (1995). Contemporary theological religious education within the context of postmodern thought. Ed.D. Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
Lynch-Baldwin, K. A. (2009). The rediscovery of early Irish Christianity and its wisdom for religious education today. Ph.D. Boston College.
Maldonado, S. R. (1999). Actualidad de la palabra de dios: A workshop for reading the Bible from a Hispanic perspective. D, Min. The Catholic University of America.
Nehrbras, D. M. (2012). The therapeutic and preaching value of the imprecatory psalms. Ph.D. Fuller Theological Seminary.
Nuhamara, D. (2002). The significance of critical theory and liberation theologies in religious education for social transformation. Ed.D. Union Theological Seminary and Presbyterian School of Christian Education.
O’Connell, D. (2008). Educating religiously toward a public spirituality. Ph.D. Boston College.
Okrzynski, J. (2015). Gifted, called and sent: A retrieval of Martin Luther’s understanding of vocation through a shared praxis approach to Christian Religious Education in an age of faith drift. Ph.D. Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary.
Paik, E. M. (1999). Women’s embodied spiritual growth: Learning through narrative research, teaching through narrative education. Ph.D. School of Theology at Claremont.
Parsons, S. B. (2005). Reformed and feminist: A challenge to Presbyterian Bible study curriculum for older youth. Ph.D. Union Theological Seminary and Presbyterian School of Christian Education.
Pedrera Granada, J. P. Z. (2014). Theological aspects of catechesis in the United States of America in the first decade of the 21st century. PhD. Universidad de Navarra Facultad de Teología.
Reiff, J. T. (1992). A practical theology of congregational studies, ecclesiology, and formation/commitment in the congregation: The story of St. Paul United Methodist Church. Ph.D. Emory University.
Rothrock, B. (2014). Authenticity, meaning, and the search for God: Philosophical theology for Catholics theological and religious education today. Ph.D. Boston College.
Snyder, E. D. K. (1999). Including children in the life of the congregation: A contemporary Mennonite exploration. Ph.D. Emmanuel College of Victoria University (Canada).
Turner, D. (1996). Story and vision: Shared Praxis in service to an institutional mission. D. Min. Princeton Theological Seminary.
Wuelfing, M. A. (2002). Comprehensive curricular integration: A rationale and strategy for the articulation of distinctively Catholic concepts, values, and competencies across subject areas in United States Catholic secondary schools. Ph.D. The University of Dayton.
Arca, D. (2012, Dec. 11). Practicing our faith: A Q&A with Colleen Griffith and Thomas Groome. Pathos http://www.patheos.com/blogs/t... (accessed August 4, 2015)
Cusak, Tim. (2011, Winter). In conversation with Thomas Groome. Embrace of the Spirit 13 (2): 14-16.
Gideau, Dawn. (1995, March 31). Catechism is reinvigorating Catholic schools: Interview with Prof. Thomas H. Groome of Boston College. The National Catholic Reporter 31 (22): 21-22.
Goodwin, Joan, interviewer. (1993, Sep. 10). Talking with Thomas Groome. Liberal Religious Education 10: 62-72.
Groome, T. H. (2001, April). Conversation with Tom Groome. FaithWorks 2 (8).
Greg, C. (2011, Dec. 7). Best response to, ‘I think I don’t believe in Santa anymore.” Pathos http://www.patheos.com/blogs/c... (Greg reflects on Groome’s response to his nine-year-old son’s comment about not believing in Santa anymore, as told in Will there be faith?, 300-301).
Heffren, R. (2011, March). Forming disciples in the family (interview with Thomas Groome). National Catholic Reporter 47 (10): 4a.
Travis, M. P. (1999). Interview with Thomas H. Groome. Journal of Catholic Education 3 (1). Retrieved from http://digitalcommons.lmu.edce/vol3/iss1/14. (includes a review and discussion of the book Educating for life) (accessed Nov. 11, 2014)
U.S. Catholic. (2013, Feb.). Show me the way: the editors interview Thomas Groome. U.S. Catholic 78 (2): 18-21.
Excerpts from Publications
Groome, T. H. (1991). Sharing faith. New York: HarperSanFrancisco, 12, emphasis as in original.
On education and religious education:
“Education includes but is more than schooling, and teaching/learning can include but is more than didactic instruction. I contend that the essential characteristic of all education is that it is a political activity.
“I regard as ‘political’ (from the Greek politike, meaning the art of enabling the shared life of citizens) any deliberate intervention in people’s lives that influences how they live their lives as social beings in history, that is, as agent-subjects-in-relationship. In this broad but traditional sense of ‘politics,’ one can readily recognize, as Plato and Aristotle first recognized, that all education is political… Its power is hopefully of persuasion rather than coercion, but it is real nonetheless. In a teaching/learning event power and knowledge combine to form how people respond to the deepest questions about what it means to be human, how to participate with others in the world, and the kind of future to create together out of their past and present…
“Rather than lessoning its political nature, making education ‘religious’ augments its political dimension. Nothing is more politically significant than shaping the ultimate myths of meaning and ethic by which people live their lives.”
Groome, T. H. (1991). Sharing faith. New York: HarperSanFrancisco, 106-108, emphasis as in original.
On the language of education:
“The language world created by Christian religious education should reflect and propose to people a deep conviction of the profound dignity and worth of all people, a mode of relating that is based on the justice of ‘right relationship,’ mutuality, and partnership, a worldview that is humanizing for all and care-full of creation. Conversely, language that disvalues or degrades people, that is chauvinist, oppressive, or exclusive on any basis, that is mechanistic, controlling, or destructive, should be absent from the language patterns of religious educators….
“… To clarify the kind of dialogue and conversation most likely to educate for conation in Christian faith I find the work of Buber and Habermas most helpful.
“Buber’s understanding of relationship and dialogue was shaped by his Hasidic tradition and by his existentialist philosophy. Both brought him to recognize and criticize two prevalent errors of our age—individualism and collectivism; the former honors only a part of us and the latter treats us only as a part. Over against these errors Buber posed ‘community’ as the alternative. He characterized community as ‘the being … with one another of a multitude of persons’ in which one ‘experiences a dynamic force … a flowing from I to Thou.’ He noted that community requires a ‘vital dialogic, demanding the staking of the self.’….
“When Buber’s characteristics of true community and conversation are fulfilled, I believe participants experience what Habermas calls a situation of ‘communicative competence … the mastery of an ideal speech situation.’ Habermas’s work brings further clarity to the dialogical ‘place’ that is the ideal and goal of a conative pedagogy. He claims that for critical reflection on social reality to be emancipatory and to promote the dialectic between the ‘life world’ of the self and the ‘systemic world’ of our sociocultural context, we do best in a situation of ‘communicative competence.’ Habermas describes this ‘communicative action’ as a situation of nondistorted reciprocal communication that is oriented to mutual understanding according to commonly held validity claims. Contrary to interests of personal ‘success’ or ‘strategic advantage,’ ‘communicative action’ takes place in a situation of mutuality between participants; it happens when the ‘symbolic interaction’ of language is free of domination or manipulation and there is no compulsion to agreement other than the persuasiveness and validity claims of a particular position. In less technical language, it is an honest and fair conversation among partners in quest of the truth.”
Groome, T. H. (2006). A shared praxis approach to religious education. In International handbook of the religious, moral and spiritual dimensions of education, part one, ed. M. deSouza et al., 673-777. Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Springer, 2006, 770.
On Christian story and vision & religious education:
“I do not pose Christian story as a meta-narrative that is the only way to explain everything to everyone all the time and everywhere. We are not the only people among whom God has been revealing Godself with saving intent; to claim that we are would deny the universality of God’s love for all people, a dogma of Christian faith. Yet the Christian story is a powerful, particular narrative that is deeply life-giving, reflecting the spiritual wisdom of thousands of years and enabling people to live humanly and religiously with great integrity, truth and beauty. The religious educator’s responsibility is to see to it that people of the Christian community have ready access to the ‘whole story’ of their rich faith tradition, and in ways that are absolutely faithful to its constitutive truths, practices, and values.
“The vision prompted by the Christian story is ultimately the reign of God, the realization of God’s intentions of peace and justice, love and freedom, wholeness and fullness of life for all humankind, here and hereafter. Practically, the vision reflects the implications that the Christian story has for the lives of its adherents. It is the meaning in front of the story: its gifts and demands, its hopes and promises for lives and societies today. The vision is what guides people in living their faith in their present time and place. This vision of Christian faith will and should shape the whole curriculum of Christian Religious Education: why, what, and how it is taught.”
Groome, T. H. (2002). What makes us Catholic. New York: HarperSanFrancisco, 163-165, emphases as in original.
On studying religion and theology:
“The most life-giving way to study any great religion is to approach it as a treasury of spiritual wisdom for life. This means not only learning about a tradition but learning from it and learning to become wise as it proposes. Such is the biblical approach to study.
“The Hebrews placed great value on scholarship. Their aim, however, was not knowledge for knowledge’s sake—as the Greeks might favor—but the pursuit of spiritual wisdom. All study was directed toward living the covenant with God. Biblically, the wise are those who keep the covenant; the foolish, those who break it. Thus, the old rabbis saw study of the sacred texts as a form of prayer—a way to come closer to God.
“From their Hebrew/Jewish roots, the first Christians learned the value of studying for spiritual wisdom. In fact, wisdom was the primary purpose of Christian scholarship up until about the year 1100. Take, for example, the theological method of lectio divina…; it was study for spiritual wisdom, for what would help in living as a people of God.
“Beginning about the twelfth century, the formal study of Christian faith relocated to the emerging universities. Now the focus of theology shifted from a prayerful quest for spiritual wisdom to a scientific study seeking rational knowledge about God. The latter has remained theology’s prime intent ever since, encouraged by the Enlightenment emphasis on ‘sure and certain ideas’ (Descartes). Thus a rift developed between religious knowledge and spiritual wisdom, between theology and spirituality.
“There are hopeful signs that, without losing the assets of critical reason, theology is once again turning toward spiritual wisdom. It is reaching beyond ‘faith seeking understanding’—the time-honored definition of scholastic theology—toward the intent of faith that is lived wisely in the world. This shift is reflected especially in the various theologies of liberation; each shares the passion that Christian faith be for life for all….
“I’m convinced that the very future of the planet and of the human family depends on how we grow in spiritual wisdom. Our scientific knowledge, and especially our technical knowledge, if not accompanied by spiritual wisdom, is likely to destroy us….
“Protestants have done far better than Catholics in continuing education, taking it for granted that Bible study is a permanent part of Christian life. In Kansas, I once met an eighty-four-year-old Methodist man who has been in the same adult Bible study group since he was a teenager, and has rarely missed a meeting. The idea that religious education is not just for children is gradually sinking in for Catholics, too. A recent Roman document calls for ‘permanent catechesis’ across the life span, recognizing that faith development is a lifelong affair.”
Groome T. H. (2011).Will there be faith? New York: HarperOne, 9.
“Regardless of contemporary conditions to the contrary, faith of some kind will always remain a human universal. Everyone needs a center of value around which to craft their lives, a core commitment that lends meaning to the rest.”
Groome. T. H. (2012.) Y aura-t-il encoré de la foi?: tout dépend, trans. R. Brodeur. Lumen Vitae 67 (4): 407-423. (Excerpt from English original, emphases as in original.)
Defining the Core of the Christian Faith We Teach:
“What will be the defining core of the Christian faith we teach?... To this, I believe, we have only one resounding answer: Jesus Christ. Though patently obvious, yet this is worth stating and particularly, perhaps, for Catholic Christians: the heart of Christian faith is Jesus Christ. It is not the Church, nor the scriptures, nor the dogmas and doctrines, nor the commandments, nor the sacraments, nor any other one ‘thing’ – important and vital as all these are to our faith. Rather, as the Catechism of the Catholic Church so well summarizes, ‘At the heart. . . we find a Person, the Person of Jesus of Nazareth, the only Son from the Father’ (CCC #426).
“Note well that this statement names the core ‘Person’ as both the Jesus of history, the one ‘of Nazareth,’ and the Christ of faith, ‘the only Son from the Father.’ So, Christians are called to be disciples to that carpenter from Nazareth who walked the roads of Galilee, who preached the reign of God with its rule of radical love, even of enemies, who fed the hungry, cured the sick, consoled the sorrowing, and welcomed the marginalized, who claimed to be the kind of Messiah that brings liberty to captives, sight to the blind, good news to the poor, and sets free the oppressed (Isaiah 61:1 and Luke 4: 21), who presented himself as ‘the way, truth and life’ (John 14:6), and invited all and sundry to ‘come follow me.’ Such is the way that the historical Jesus modeled for us.
To follow the way of Jesus, however, we need him also to be the Christ of faith, the Son of God, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, who by his life, death, and resurrection, makes it possible for us to so live. The paschal mystery forever mediates to us God’s abundant grace. Because of his dying and rising, we can live as disciples of Jesus. Whatever we do by way of educating in Christian faith, then, Jesus Christ must be its defining center. We must teach disciples to follow his way, and then to embrace him as Lord and Savior, and likewise teach what he taught us of God, of the Holy Spirit, and how to live as a people of God.”
Groome. T. H. (2012.) Y aura-t-il encoré de la foi?: tout dépend. Trans. R. Brodeur. Lumen Vitae 67 (4): 407-423. (Excerpt from English original, emphases as in original.)
The Pedagogy of Jesus:
“To appreciate Jesus’ distinctive pedagogy, I first note four salient features of his whole way of being with people…. I detect that Jesus incarnated the divine pedagogy by being: a) welcoming and inclusive; b) respectful of learners; c) compassionate and committed to justice; d) encouraging of partnership among servant leaders.
“Welcoming and Inclusive: Jesus’ style was distinguished by its proactive outreach and radical inclusion; the two went hand in hand. Both would have been distinctive in his time and culture…. Jesus reached out to men, women, and children and to ordinary people - farmers, shepherds, merchants, homemakers, and fishermen. He reached out especially to the marginalized, to lepers and public sinners, to the physically and psychologically ill, to the poor and hungry, to the suffering and bereaved, to all who were oppressed by the cultural mores of the time…
“Respectful of Learners: Jesus’ approach had tremendous respect for his learners. His clear intent was to empower people to become agents of their faith rather than dependents. He was not looking for docile devotees as we might associate with cult-like figures. Jesus wanted his disciples to become fully alive people to the glory of God… Think, too, of so many of Jesus’ miracles of healing; instead of boasting, ‘I have cured you,’ Jesus’ typical comment was ‘your faith has healed you’ (Mark 5: 34). Note how he affirmed the widow’s mite, the prayer of the publican, the innocence of children, and so on. Respect and affirmation for all were hallmarks of his style.
“Compassionate and Committed to Justice: New Testament scholars agree that a defining feature of Jesus’ public ministry was his compassion for those in need. One of his greatest parables taught that God is like a loving parent whose heart was ‘filled with compassion’ upon seeing the prodigal return (Luke 15: 20)….
“Likewise, the work of justice was at the heart of Jesus’ ministry. His central teaching of God’s reign reflects as much. In his Jewish faith, God’s kingdom was understood as both a spiritual and a social symbol that calls people to holiness of life which demands the works of peace and justice (see the ‘holiness code’ of Leviticus 19). It is no surprise, then, that Jesus rejected every form of chauvinism and sexism, of racism and ethnic bias. The story of the Samarian woman hit all those bases.
“Partnership Among Servant Leaders: The previous features imply that Jesus’ whole approach was to call people into a community of disciples, a community of partnership with him and with one another….”
Groome, T. H. (1980). Christian religious education. San Francisco: Harper and Row. & Groome, T. H. (2011). Will there be faith? New York: HarperOne.
When read together these two books provide an overview of Groome’s understanding of Christian religious education and show the development of his thought.
Groome, T. H. (1991). Sharing faith. New York: HarperSanFrancisco.
Sharing Faith offers Groome’s most comprehensive presentations of Christian religious education and Shared Christian Praxis.
Groome, T. H. (2006). A shared praxis approach to religious education. In International handbook of the religious, moral and spiritual dimensions of education, part one, ed. M. deSouza et al., 763-777. Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Springer, 2006.
This article provides a succinct statement of Groome’s core convictions as an educator as well as an excellent summary of Shared Christian Praxis.
Grrome, T. H. (2003). Total catechesis/religious education: A vision for now and always. In Horizons and hopes: The future of religious education, eds. T. H. Groome and H. D. Horell, 1-29. New York: Paulist Press.
Groome presents here one of his fullest descriptions of a community-centered paradigm for education in Christian faith. The chapter also brings together Groome’s thoughts on Catholic education and holistic education in Christian faith.
Groome, T.H, (2014). Catholic education: from and for faith. International Studies in Catholic Education 6(2): 113-127.
This article offers a fairly comprehensive overview of Groome’s view of Catholic education.
Groome, T. H. (1986). On being “with” late adolescents in ministry. In Readings in youth ministry, volume I: foundations, ed. J. Roberto, 17-32. Washington, D.C.: National Federation for Catholic Youth Ministry.
This chapter shows how Shared Christian Praxis can be an approach to ministry. It has been used in courses on youth ministry and pastoral ministry.
Groome, T. H. (2014). Practices of teaching: A pedagogy of practical theology. In Invitation to practical theology: Catholic voices and visions, ed. C. E. Wolfteich, 277-300. New York: Paulist Press. & Groome, T. H. (1987). Theology on our feet: A revisionist pedagogy for healing the gap between academia and ecclesia. In Formation and reflection: The promise of practical theology, eds. L. S. Mudge and J. N. Poling, 55-78. Philadelphia: Fortress Press.
Groome’s approach to practical theology is outlined in a fairly comprehensive way when these two pieces are read together.
Groome, T. H. (1986). Walking humbly with our God. In To act justly, love tenderly, walk humbly, W. Brueggemann, S. D. Parks, and T. H. Groome, 44-65. New York: Paulist Press. & Groome, T. H. (1997). Spirituality as purpose and process of catechesis. In The echo within: Emerging issues in religious education, eds. C. Dooley and M. Collins, 161-176. Allen, TX: Thomas More.
These essays present Groome’s understanding of spirituality and spiritual formation.
Harold Daly Horell
Harold D. Horell is a tenured assistant professor of religious education at the Fordham University Graduate School of Religion and Religious Education. He teaches courses in moral education; social ministry; the religious and educational development of children, youth, and young adults; and the history of religious education. Dr. Horell holds an interdisciplinary doctorate in Theology and Education from the Boston College Institute of Religious Education and Pastoral Ministry (IREPM). Before moving to Fordham University he served as Associate Director for Academic Affairs at the Boston College IREPM from 1997-2003.