Unveiling religious education: Gabriel Moran and the exploration of meaning

Finola Cunnane, Fordham University


This study explores the meaning of religious education through the lens of Gabriel Moran. It seeks to name key problems inherent in contemporary religious education and, in particular, the absence of a field or discipline that can accurately be named. In order to unveil the potential meaning of religious education, four themes permeating Moran's educational thought were selected: (1) The meaning and forms of education, (2) The meaning and forms of teaching, (3) Moral education and educating morally, and (4) Education toward adulthood. Problematizing the current languages of religious education, Moran proposes an educational framework comprising family, school, work, and leisure. Each of these forms partially embody the universal values of community, knowledge, work, and wisdom. Teaching within this framework is understood as showing someone how to do something. Three families of teaching languages are identified, “homiletic, therapeutic, and academic,” all of which show someone how to live and how to die. The study proceeds within this new educational paradigm. A second language in which to speak about religious education is presented and religious education is understood as comprising two complementary but differing aims: (a) to teach religion and (b) to teach to be religious. Thus understood, religious education in this study is examined in three different settings—family, school, and parish—with the above four educative themes interwoven through each one. The roles of the family, school, and parish as educator, teacher, moral educator, and educator toward adulthood are explored through the ways in which they are designed, model a way of life, and engage in the languages of teaching. These settings provide educative opportunities, some predominantly focused on teaching to be religious, others primarily oriented to understand religion. Ultimately, religious education in these settings is directed to educating people toward religious maturity. In summary, this work examines the identity of religious education. The corpus of Gabriel Moran's writings is the vehicle for unveiling the richest possible meaning of religious education for our time.

Subject Area

Religious education

Recommended Citation

Cunnane, Finola, "Unveiling religious education: Gabriel Moran and the exploration of meaning" (2000). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI9975343.