Thomas Groome


As a very young theology student in an old Irish seminary, I was reading the then recently published documents of the Second Vatican Council (circa 1966). I hit upon the statement in Gaudium et Spes that the greatest error of our age is “the gap that Christians maintain between the lives they live and the faith they confess” (GS 43). With hindsight, it became a foundational text for me, urging a commitment to religious education that might reduce the gap – to enable myself and others to integrate life and faith into lived faith. I summarize it now – though I’ve said it more elaborately – as a pedagogy that brings life to Faith to life. How did I get here?

My Irish seminary was no intellectual powerhouse but it had a strong tradition of forming good pastors; it gave me a deep commitment to pastoral praxis for the life of the world. Then, Union Theological Seminary (NY) and Bev Harrison, my advisor there, introduced me to feminist theology – a great grace. I also was enriched by the work of James Cone (a new faculty person there then) and by that of Gustavo Gutierrez, who became a life-long friend. Building on seeds sown by my father, on old Irish socialist, Union infused my theology to be one of liberation.

At Columbia Teacher’s College (in a joint doctorate with Union), Dwayne Huebner was a wonderful mentor; his modeling of a humanizing education has lasted me a lifetime. Dwayne introduced me to the work of Paulo Freire and Jürgen Habermas – the “in” philosopher to read at the time. The three chief resources for my dissertation were Gutierrez for its theology, Habermas for its philosophy, and Freire for its pedagogy. Though I’d never recommend anyone to read it, yet my dissertation had the kernel proposal of a “shared Christian (or Jewish or . .. ) praxis approach” to religious education.

Its original insight was (hopefully) developed across the years by my teaching, research, and writing. It was honed most intensely by my efforts to implement such an approach in religion curricula. I’m the principal author of two K to 8th grade series for Catholic schools and parishes (God with Us, 1984, and Coming to Faith, 1992, both published by William H Sadlier), and a theology curriculum for Catholic high schools, the Credo Series (from Veritas, now being completed).

Equally vital to developing my theory and praxis as a religious educator has been my teaching of students in the filed, and especially the some 70 graduates of the PhD in Theology and Education at Boston College. As for all of us, I’ve learned at least a much from my students as I have taught them.

For those who might be interested in a more detailed autobiography of me as a religious educator, I was invited to write one some years ago by the Journal of Adult Theological Education. It was published in its Vol 8. No 1, 2011. You can find it at

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