Department Chair

Dr. Harry Rissetto

Phone: 202.336.7123 *7431



All Gonzaga students are enrolled in religion classes during each of their four academic years. The mission of the Gonzaga Religion Department is to promote an awareness and understanding of Catholic teaching and Christ’s message in contemporary society. There is a special concentration on the elements of Catholic heritage and life within the Catholic Church.

Ms. Shannon Berry
Mrs. Carroll Corgan
Ms. Katie Murphy
Ms. Laura Gengler
Mr. Brendan Hartnett
Fr. Gerald O’Connor, S.J.
Dr. Harry Rissetto, PhD (Chair)
Mr. Patrick Sullivan
Mr. Andrew Turner

Course Listings
The Revelation of Jesus Christ in Scripture & Who is Jesus?

(Freshmen – 2 semesters)
The purpose of the first semester course is to give students a general knowledge and appreciation of the Sacred Scriptures. Through their study of the Bible they will come to encounter the living Word of God, Jesus Christ. In the course they will learn about the Bible and its value to Christians throughout the world. The second semester course will introduce students to the mystery of Jesus Christ, the living Word of God. In this course students will learn that Jesus Christ is the ultimate Revelation to humanity from God. In learning about who He is, the students will also explore who He calls them to be.

The Mission of Jesus Christ
(Sophomores – 2 semesters)
Students in this year-long course will continue to follow the curriculum framework established by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. The first semester will examine the Mission of Jesus Christ as it originates in the Old Testament and finds fulfillment in the New Testament. Within this section students will explore sacramental theology, salvation history, Jesus’ life and teaching, virtues, discipleship, sanctity, and prayer. In the second semester students will learn how Jesus Christ’s Mission c continues in the Church. This will include an investigation of the first century Christian Church, the development of Church leadership through the rise of the papacy, the development of religious orders, the Protestant Reformation, and the conciliar events up to and including Vatican II. This section will include a further examination of sacramental theology, and close with a look at American Catholicism, Catholic Social Teaching, and the twenty-first century Church.

(Juniors – 2 semesters)
Beginning with a survey of major non-Christian ethical systems, this course contrasts the initial material with the system of ethics developed within the Catholic tradition. It explores various facets of Catholic ethics, then studies and applies Catholic teaching to a number of pertinent modern issues. Examples of specific issues studied include: life-issues (euthanasia, capital punishment, abortion), sexual issues, marriage, sexual identity, fidelity, promiscuity, family planning), issues of integrity (cheating, lying, plagiarism), and environmental justice. In the encounter with each of these issues the students are guided in an exploration of Catholic Church teaching and tradition.

Systematic Theology
(Seniors – 1 semester – required course)
This course examines the nature of faith and critically examines the intellectual tradition associated with Catholic belief. The course begins by examining the existence/possibility of correct answers to religious questions. Students then explore concepts of faith, religious experience, and salvation through a Catechetical lens. The God question is treated through analysis of the classical arguments as well as more modern approaches. Additionally, the primary challenges to religious belief are addressed. The course then focuses on the person and significance of Jesus throughout Catholic tradition and practice. Throughout the course students are asked to form critical judgments concerning their own religious experience in the light of the Catholic tradition.

Social Justice
(Seniors – 1 semester – required course)
Social Justice is designed to allow students to reflect on Scripture, Catholic social teachings, and Catholic practice through the lens of classroom work and their Eagle Project (requires 40 hours of community service). Students learn to examine examples of structural injustice, develop a critical analysis of their causes and anticipate solutions in the light of the faith-justice tradition. Among the specific issues addressed are economic injustice, race, gender bias, and the geopolitical strategy of the First World. This course will enable the Gonzaga graduate to understand and integrate into his life the school’s motto, “being a man for others.”

Social Service
(Required for Seniors: 20hrs summer/20hrs academic year)
In addition, Gonzaga offers a variety of Social Service opportunities for students of all ages including work at St. Aloysius Parish Father McKenna Center, McKenna’s Wagon, Food-And-Friends and many others. Please consult Campus Ministry for more details and suggestions.


“Today our prime educational objective must be to form men-and-women-for-others; men and women who will live not for themselves but for God and his Christ; men and women who cannot even conceive of love of God which does not include love for the least of their neighbors; men and women completely convinced that love of God which does not issue in justice for others is a farce.”
Fr. Pedro Arrupe, SJ (1907-1991)