University Profiles

Zeni Fox

Zeni V. Fox, Ph.D.

Professor of Pastoral Theology - Emeritus

School of Theology


Dr. Fox's books, articles, frequent lectures and courses have focused to a great extent on ministry in the Church.

A primary area of interest for me is the role of the laity in the Church, especially as it has been evolving since the Second Vatican Council. While I have explored the myriad ways that lay persons live out their Baptismal call in the Church and in the world, a particular focus has been lay ecclesial ministry. My perspective on this has been enriched over the years by my own research, for my dissertation, two national studies of these new ministers and through opportunities to meet and converse with them in dioceses throughout the country. As an advisor to the United States Bishops’ Committee on the Laity and Subcommittee on Lay Ministry for over fifteen years, I participated in many consultations with diverse Church representatives, including canonists , diocesan leaders, leaders of lay organizations and theologians, from this country and beyond, further deepening my perspective. My books, articles, frequent lecturing and some teaching have focused to a great extent in this area.

In addition, I am interested in the life of the parish, especially as it engages in intentional efforts to hand on the Catholic faith. My fifteen years of pastoral work in the area of religious education that preceded my teaching at Immaculate Conception Seminary gave me practical experience of the strengths and challenges parishes face today. My more recent involvement in the New Energies process of the Archdiocese of Newark, which facilitates the strengthening of parish life, especially through mergers and linkages, augmented this experience. The national research on emerging models of parish leadership has provided a helpful framework for exploring the collaboration of deacons, lay ecclesial ministers, priests and vowed religious in today's Church. My teaching in pastoral theology draws on this background.

Recently I have been exploring the spirituality of lay leaders. My edited book, Called and Chosen: Toward a Spirituality for Lay Leaders, was developed primarily for leaders of Catholic institutional ministries. This work has led to presentations for leaders in Catholic healthcare and Catholic education throughout this country, and in Australia. Most recently, my research has focused on authorization rituals for lay ecclesial ministers.

Curriculum Vitae »


  • Ph.D., Fordham University
  • M.A., Fordham University

Academic Distinctions

  • Wisdom and Service Award, St. John's University, Collegeville, MN, 2011
  • Servant Leadership Award, College of St. Elizabeth, Convent Station, NJ, 2011
  • Doctor of Divinity, honoris causa, Georgian Court University, Lakewood, NJ, 2007
  • Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa, Christ the King Seminary, Buffalo, NY, 2006
  • Ad Laudem Dei Award, Distinguished Alumnae, College of Mount Saint Vincent, 2003
  • Gaudium et Spes Award, National Association for Lay Ministry, 1998
  • Award for Faculty Excellence, Seton Hall University, 1997

Office Phone
(973) 761-9486


Office Location
Room 128
Lewis Hall


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