Dr. Gabriel Moran, AFSC, an internationally recognized scholar and much admired teacher, died October 15, 2021 in New York City. His writings made significant contributions to Roman Catholic theology and to ecumenical religious education. At the time of his death, Moran was Professor Emeritus of Educational Philosophy at New York University, where he had taught for 29 years.
Moran was predeceased by his beloved wife, Maria Harris, his sisters Louise Lyons and Dorothy Perkins, his brother John and his parents, Mary Murphy and John Moran. He is survived by his sister Mary, a member of the Sisters of Mercy, by several nieces and nephews, and by many friends.
Born Richard Moran on August 11, 1935, in Manchester, New Hampshire, he entered the De La Salle Christian Brothers in 1954, accepting the name Gabriel. He received his bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees from the Catholic University of America in Washington, DC.
In 1965, Moran became director of the Manhattan College Graduate Program of Theology and Religious Education. His extensive knowledge of Roman Catholic tradition and of ancient and modern philosophy, coupled with his clarity of expression, attracted students from across the United States and abroad. In 1970, he was elected Provincial Superior of the Long Island and New England District of the Christian Brothers.
In 1978, Moran joined the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences at New York University where he taught religion, philosophy, and the history of education. In 1985, Moran withdrew from the Christian Brothers and wed his colleague, Maria Harris, in 1986. They remained married until her death in 2005. He was welcomed back into the Christian Brothers with the honor of Affiliated Member in 2020.
His tenure at New York University furthered Moran’s ecumenical standing, attracting students of many religious traditions, as well as those not formally members of any religious tradition. As Chair of the Department of Religious Studies, Moran mentored doctoral students writing from Buddhist, Evangelical Protestant and Roman Catholic perspectives. With several members of an educational team, Alternative Religious Education, he initiated and published the Alternative newsletter for 45 years. Moran was among the earliest members of the International Seminars on Religious Education and Value (ISREV). His international presence flourished with lectures in Asia, Africa, Europe and Australia.
Moran and his colleague and wife Maria Harris received the William Rainey Harper Award at the Centennial Celebration of the Religious Education Association. Fordham University’s Graduate School of Religion and Religious Education awarded Moran and Harris the distinction, Sapentia et Doctrina (Wisdom and Learning), noting that together they had changed the field of Religious Education, both Catholic and ecumenical, around the world. In 2004, Moran was the recipient of the National Conference for Catechetical Leadership Award.
Through over 400 essays and 31 books, Moran created a distinguished, far-reaching body of work. While critical at points, his most recent book, What Happened to the Roman Catholic Church? What Now? An Institutional and Personal Memoir, offers hopeful directions for a Church response to such key questions as sexual diversity, non-violent force, racial equality, priesthood and women’s rights. Its theme echoes his underlying thesis that Catholic revelation is present both in the teachings of Christian mystics and in community participation of women and men in Catholic liturgies today.
A full listing of Moran’s published works and a complete biography appear on the website, http://www.gabrielmoran.net.
Moran will be waked at Gannon Funeral Home, 152 East 28 Street, New York City, on Wednesday, October 20, 2021, 2-4 pm and 7-9 pm. The following two days, October 21 and 22 a viewing will take place from 1-4 PM at The Christian Brothers Center, 365 Ocean Road., Narragansett, Rhode Island. A liturgy of Christian Burial will be celebrated there at 10:30 AM, Saturday, October 23, 2021. Interment will be in the Brothers’ Cemetery. Donations in Moran’s remembrance may be made payable to the Christian Brothers and sent to: Development Office, Christian Brothers, P.O. Box 238, Lincroft, New Jersey 07738-0238 or at the web link: fscDENA.org/give-now