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Gerry O'Connell EdD

Gerry O'Connell_Website Profle_2016_resized


01 853 5124
St Mary's, Room 121


Department of Inclusion, Religious Education and Student Life




Gerry O’Connell has been teaching RE to primary teacher education students (B.Ed. and P.M.E.) in MIE since 2005, following 25 years teaching at all class levels of the primary school.

Gerry's Master's thesis involved exploring Jesus the Parabler. A chapter derived from that thesis was published in ‘Nurturing Children’s Religious Imagination’ (Veritas, 2004).

His doctoral thesis concerned students’ experience of the pre-service RE course that he teaches in MIE, which has a strong focus on the inner life. It is clear from the research that the space provided by the course for inner-life work was valued by participants. Furthermore, they have signalled that it met a deep need in their lives as students. They also saw it as an essential part of their professional development.

Gerry believes that the creation of such space is also important in primary RE. In that regard, he has advocated a ‘CDS’ (Contemplation-Depth-Symbol) approach to the teaching of RE, where teachers would ensure that RE lessons would make room for contemplative space, would have space for depth of conversation or wonder and would also have space for symbol or story. In this way, Gerry believes that RE can make a positive contribution to the well-being of both pupils and teachers by allowing for space where their inner lives can be nourished, where a slowing down of the hectic pace of the modern classroom can be facilitated and where the education of the heart can be addressed.


B.Ed. 1980 St. Patrick's College

M.Ed. (Rel.) 2003 (First Class Honours) Dublin City University

Ed.D 2014, University of Exeter

Publications and other outputs


Book Chapters

Putting Space in Place: Reflective Practice and Ethos in Robinson, Denis (forthcoming and due to be published by Dominican Press, Dublin in 2023).

O’Connell, G. (2021). 55 Years in Catholic Education: Formal, Informal and Lifelong. In Byrne, G. and Whittle, S. (Eds.), Catholic Education: A Lifelong Journey. Veritas.

O’Connell, G. (2004). Awakening Children to new ways of Seeing the World. In Topley, R. and Byrne, G., (Eds.) Nurturing Children’s Religious Imagination. Veritas.



O’Connell, G. (2014). The significance of a pre-service RE course, which recognizes the importance of a focus on the inner life: Exploring the experience of primary teacher education students in a small teacher education college in Dublin. [Ed.D. Thesis University of Exeter].

O’Connell, G. (2003). Jesus the Parabler: Source, Experience and Possibilities of the Parables of Jesus. [M.R.Ed. Thesis DCU/ St. Patrick’s College/ Mater Dei].



Conference Contributions

O’Connell, G. (2020, September). 55 Years in Catholic Education: Formal, Informal and Lifelong - All you need is love...and vision...and ethos...and reflective space... [Paper presentation]. Catholic Education: Formal, Informal and Lifelong Conference, DCU.

O’Connell, G. (2015, September). RE – Enchanting the Academy – Presentation at Canterbury Christ Church University’s ‘Re-Enchanting the Academy’ Conference.

O’Connell, G. (2015, October). There and Back Again – An RE Lecturer’s Tale – Presentation at the RE Congress Symposium in Wynne’s Hotel.

O’Connell, G. (2011). Wrestling with Angels – RE with Teacher Education Students – University of Exeter Staff-Student Conference.



Inside_Education_311_Gerry_O_Connell_on_Religious_Education_10-1-18_.mp3 (Podcast with Seán Delaney).

Inside_Education_312_Gerry_O_Connell_on_Religious_Education_pt_2_17-1-18_.mp3 (Podcast with Seán Delaney).


Other Outputs

O’Connell, G. (2017, May). Beginning, Always Beginning… Presentation at the Conference of Diocesan Advisors in MIE.

O’Connell, G. (2016, May). Positivity in the World of RE - Reflection and Facilitation of Closing Discussion for RE Congress in Maynooth.

O’Connell, G. (2016, May). Smuggling Donkeys – RE and MoRE – Wondering about what we might see in a vision – RE Lecturers’ Forum Colloquium.

O’Connell, G. (2015). ‘RE in Initial Teacher Education with a Focus on the Inner Life’ Book Chapter in ITE Research Symposium E-Book, Dublin: MIE.

O’Connell, G. (2015, November). The RE Teacher – Presentation to Teachers and Diocesan Advisors concerned with Grow in Love Induction in Sheraton Hotel Athlone.

O’Connell, G. (2015, March). Wondering about the Contemplative: Working Titles, Questions and Thinking out loud about Teaching RE – RE Lecturers’ Forum Colloquium.

O’Connell, G. (2015). Opening and Closing Presentations at the Final AGM of the APTS February 2015

O’Connell, G. (2014). Opening Up the Ground of Hope for the World – Finding Ourselves in the Service of Others - Presentation at the AGM of the APTS 2014.

O’Connell, G. (2013). Faith in the Spaces – Much More with Much Less - Presentation at the AGM of the APTS 2013.

O’Connell, G. (2012). Treasured Memories, Present Gifts, Future Hopes - Presentation at the AGM of the APTS 2012.

O’Connell, G. (2011). A Surfing Year - an Investigation of Students’ Experience of my Professional Practice - Mater Dei – University of Exeter – Bangor University Colloquium.

O’Connell, G. (2011). RE in the Primary School – A View from Marino – Presentation at the AGM of Diocesan Advisors in Emmaus.

O’Connell, G. (2011). Bridges of Imagination, Bridges of Blessing - Presentation at the AGM of the APTS 2011.

O’Connell, G. (2010). Living the Questions – Presentation at the AGM of the APTS (Association of Primary Teaching Sisters).

Research/Professional Interests

Religious Education