NEW YORK (June 8, 2004)—Following a national search, Fordham University has named the Reverend Anthony J. Ciorra, Ph.D., a seasoned pastoral administrator and theologian, dean of the Graduate School of Religion and Religious Education (GSRRE), effective Aug. 1, 2004. Father Ciorra comes to Fordham from the College of Saint Elizabeth in Convent Station, N.J., where he serves as director of the Center for Theological and Spiritual Development, a professor of theology and the college chaplain
“He will bring to Fordham a wealth of experience and a desire to build upon and enhance the tradition of excellence and creativity that is the heritage of the Graduate School of Religion and Religious Education,” said Joseph M. McShane, S.J., the president of Fordham University
At Saint Elizabeth’s, Father Ciorra was instrumental in restructuring the Office of Ministry, which focused on lay ministry formation, into the vibrant Center for Theological and Spiritual Development, which now offers numerous programs including pastoral conferences, six certificate programs, distance learning initiatives, and a summer institute in theology, spirituality and scripture that attracts more than 700 students.
“As the director for the Center, a lot of my work centered around lay ministry formation and theological development, both for the laity and for religious and clergy,” said Ciorra. “I have a passion for this work, especially in terms of spiritual formation of the laity. I think it’s the future of the church and I am happy to give my energy to this much-needed endeavor.”
In recognition of his outstanding service to Saint Elizabeth’s, the college awarded Father Ciorra the Caritas Centennial Award in 2000. He is also the recipient of the prestigious Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice (For the Church and the Pope) award, which he received from Pope John Paul II in 1998, in recognition of his dedication and service to the church.
“Father Ciorra has taken a Center at a small college and given it a national and international presence,” said Nancy Busch, Ph.D., dean of the Fordham Graduate School of Arts and Sciences and chair of the GSRRE dean search committee. “The committee was impressed with Father Ciorra’s scholarship and his accomplishments. We are confident that he will build upon the strong foundation that Father Vincent Novak [the retiring dean]has developed over the past 40 years.”
Father Ciorra is the author of two books, Everyday Mysticism: Cherishing the Holy (Crossroad, 1995) and Moral Formation in Parish: With Your Whole Heart Turn to God (Alba House, 1998), which he co-authored with James Keating. Prior to his tenure at Saint Elizabeth’s, he served as the director of the Center for Spiritual Development at the Archdiocese of New York from 1980 to 1991, and as an adjunct professor at Iona College, Caldwell College and at St. Joseph Seminary
His appointment as the GSRRE dean marks Father Ciorra’s return to Fordham, where he received his doctoral degree in historical theology in 1991. Prior to that, he received a master’s degree in Franciscan studies from Saint Bonaventure University in 1984. He also earned a master’s degree in psychological counseling in 1978, a master’s degree in divinity in 1974, and a bachelor’s degree in classical languages in 1969—all from Seton Hall University. He was ordained a Roman Catholic priest in 1973
Fordham’s GSRRE began as a graduate institute in 1968 and was elevated to a graduate school in 1975. It trains religious and educational leaders from around the world and has a decidedly international flavor, as its students hail from 15 countries. In addition to the doctoral degree in religious education, the graduate school offers master’s degrees in religion and religious education, pastoral counseling and spiritual care, and education (religion), along with a professional diploma in religion and religious education.
The graduate school’s current and founding dean, Vincent Novak, S.J., will retire on June 30, after 40 years of service to the University.