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Theology Alum Brings Young People to the Church

As a young person himself, Paul Morisi ‘14G felt called to service in the Catholic Church. “I just knew I was in a relationship with Jesus Christ and wanted to learn as much as I could about Him,” he said, “just as you would with anyone else you’re friends with.” Today, Morisi guides other young people to this kind of personal relationship with the Church as Coordinator of Adolescent and Young Adult Faith Formation for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn, helping parishes, schools, academies, and colleges minister and do outreach to youth and young adults.

Morisi has held this position since 2010. Since 2013, he has also been a Youth Ministry Liaison with the National Catholic Adult Young Minister Association. He previously taught at Holy Child Jesus Catholic Academy in Queens, NY, and Sacred Heart School in Hartsdale, NY. In 2010, Morisi also founded the First String Players, an organization that brings theater to local churches and parishes in Queens. He now serves as producer for the First String Players’ performances, which he considers a way to “think outside the box to get young people to engage with the Church.” “Theatre and music programs show that the Church is not one dimensional,” said Morisi. “It’s big enough for many types of people to fit in.”

After attending Cathedral Preparatory School and Seminary and receiving a bachelor of arts in history, political science, and education from St. Francis College, Morisi came to St. John’s to complete his Master of Arts degree in Theology. He recalls studying with Joann Heaney-Hunter, Ph.D., for pastoral leadership, Christopher D. Denny, Ph.D., for Church history, and Rev. Michael D. Whalen, C.M., S.T.D., for sacraments and prayers. Said Morisi: “The education I got at St. John’s has allowed me to do better outreach for young people in our diocese. I would encourage anyone thinking about a master’s degree in theology to consider SJU, because it has prepared me well for the work I do now.”

Last year, Morisi and his wife, Alison, received a high honor when they were blessed by Pope Francis as sposi novelli, or newly-weds. “We got married on a Monday and flew to Rome on that Tuesday to meet the Pope on Wednesday,” said Morisi. “I still get goose bumps thinking about it. Before we left, he asked us to pray for him, and it still gives me chills down my spine that the Pope would need us to pray for him.”

“We are proud to count Paul Morisi among our alumni, and happy that what he learned in our program helped him rise to a leadership position with the Diocese of Brooklyn,” said Christopher P. Vogt, Ph.D., Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Theology and Religious Studies. “He has been a valuable networking contact for many of our graduate students and alumni.”