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Understood principally in the context of schools, colleges and parishes, the work of the Centre for Catholic Education, Research and Religious Literacy (CERRL) embraces dialogue with the wider religious, social and cultural matrices of our time.


A number of resident and visiting staff further the work of the Centre as well as an External Advisory Group and Ecclesial, University and School partners.

It is with great sadness that we share the news that the inaugural Centre Director, Professor Anthony Towey, passed away in late June 2022. Plans are underway to uphold Anthony’s legacy through the CERRL Centre in future. 

Research and teaching

CERRL is custodian of St Mary’s strong research tradition in Catholic Education. Conjoining the antecedent work of the Aquinas Centre for Theological Literacy and the Centre for Research and Development in Catholic Education, CERRL aims to build on an existing inventory of research conducted by Centre members.

Anyone wishing to join the growing number of successful MPhil EdD and PhD researchers should check our research projects webpage.

Operating therefore at the interface of practitioners and theorists, CERRL acts as hub for course initiatives across a range of traditional and innovative programmes (CCRS, BAITT, PGCE RE, MA Education (RE) and MA Catholic School Leadership).

Publications and resources

In terms of publications, not only are CERRL personnel prominent in their respective fields, both International Studies in Catholic Education and The Pastoral Review are edited here. Likewise, supporting teachers in their engagement with curricula is also an ongoing priority. Particularly in relation to recent reforms in RE and the new Curriculum directory, the Centre has been active in curriculum development and is committed to CPD and resourcing.

Events and partnerships

St Mary’s regularly hosts international academic conferences related to Catholic Education as well as CPD events for practitioners. CERRL partnerships involve undertaking research on behalf of national bodies such as the Catholic Education Service (CES) and National Board of Religious Inspectors and Advisors (NBRIA), as well as consultancy and third sector University networks such as Global Researchers in Catholic Education (G.R.A.C.E.) and CERIAN (Catholic Educational Research in Africa Network). Partner schools such as the Koinonia network are increasingly important in this regard.

CERRL launch

CERRL was formally launched on the Feast of St. Vincent de Paul,  27th September, 2021.

Proceedings were opened by the Vice-Chancellor, Anthony McLaran who linked the establishment of the Centre with a renewal of the University commitment to the educational service of all, in the best Catholic and Vincentian traditions.

Then, staff and students from the Centre described their activities under headings of teaching, research, publications, innovations and partnerships. Rt. Rev. Alan Williams, Higher Education liaison from the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales then drew on his experience as a pupil, as a teacher and as a Bishop to set the challenge for CERRL to shape the pedagogical landscape for the next generation.

Paul Barber from the Catholic Education Service offered an insightful response to the keynote and after interventions from the floor (which included contributions from both students and the Chaplaincy), everyone was invited to enjoy an experience of St. Mary’s hospitality. The success of the evening owed so much to so many, and the organizers would like to thank especially Louise from Conferencing, Sue from Catering, the logistics team and Media Sheybany from A/V for their helpful contributions.

Centre Director: Professor Stephen G Parker

Further information

For further details please contact Annalise Gordon at