Besides serving as a research associate at CARA, Father Stephen Joseph Fichter is the Pastor of Sacred Heart Parish in Haworth, New Jersey. He obtained a Ph.L. and an S.T.B. from the Pontifical Athenaeum Regina Apostolorum in Rome, an M.S.W. from Fordham University's Graduate School of Social Service, and an M.A. and a Ph.D. in Sociology from Rutgers University.

Following in the footsteps of his well-known granduncle, the Jesuit scholar Joseph Fichter, Stephen's research interests cover all issues related to the sociology of religion, especially those that focus on clergy. His social work thesis, which described gender differences in stress among Protestant ministers, was published in Research in the Social Scientific Study of Religion. His doctoral dissertation, Shepherding in Greener Pastures, examined the causes and consequences of the dual transition of celibate Catholic priests into married Protestant ministry. A summary of his findings can be found online at America magazine.

His experience before joining CARA in 2008 includes serving as the parochial vicar of Saint Gabriel the Archangel Church in Saddle River, New Jersey, and teaching undergraduate courses in Philosophy and World Religions at Bergen Community College. More recently, he taught a graduate course in Vatican II Theology for the STEPS Program at Seton Hall University.

While studying in Europe for almost twelve years, he learned to speak Spanish and Italian, and held various administrative posts including chief financial officer and vice rector of two seminaries.

At CARA, Father Stephen has continued to specialize in clergy research, placing his sociological skills at the service of the Catholic Church and her bishops. In coordination with the National Organization for Continuing Education for Roman Catholic Clergy (NOCERCC), he has worked on several Cultivating Unity projects for dioceses throughout the United States. He is currently engaged in a study on the needs, interests, beliefs, and practices of priests in America today. This study, commissioned by the National Federation of Priests Councils (NFPC), is the fourth in a series of studies on priestly life and ministry that began in the 1970s.



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