Dr. Joseph Torma is the second of eleven children (eldest of eight boys) and grew up in very traditional ethnic Catholic family in the diocese of Youngstown. He entered the minor seminary of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart at age 14 and stayed until after his third year of college. He graduated in 1966 with a degree in philosophy and immediately entered the new Master's program in Theology at the University of Detroit, graduating in 1967. He then taught theology at Creighton University until 1970, whereupon he began his doctoral program at the University of Ottawa in Ontario, Canada. Since he had undergraduate experience at a home for neglected and delinquent youth, graduate experience with inner-city youth, and had organized the Community Service Center at Creighton, he did his dissertation on "The American Catholic Reaction to the Concept 'Social Action' in Vatican II" (a topic so wide-ranging that in addition to a systematic theologian as thesis director, his jury consisted of a church historian, a canon lawyer, a sociologist of religion, and a religious anthropologist). After Ottawa, he worked for the diocese of Rochester, NY, organizing and training parish social action committees. He went from there to St. Bernard's Seminary in Rochester as Field Education Director and Social Ministry Professor and chairman of the Pastoral Studies Division. There he helped to develop the Permanent Diaconate program there for the diocese and was involved with the Rochester Catholic Worker. He came to Walsh after the seminary closed in 1981. He is married with four adult boys and two grandchildren. His wife, who has a B.A. in Theology and an M.A. in Religious Education, just retired as an eighth-grade reading teacher. They met in music ministry at Creighton University and continue with that to this day.
Torma teaches a wide range of courses in Theology at Walsh:, The Church in the Modern World, Christian Moral Life, Christian Spirituality, Social Ministry and many special-topics courses (some relating to our Philosophy-Theology Symposium) such as Theology of the Cooperative Society, Unity within Diversity in the Church, Marxism and Catholicism on Human Work, The Theology of The Grapes of Wrath, Human Rights and Catholic Social Thought, Organizing for Justice, and a capstone course for senior theology majors.
He has written books on organizing parish social action committees and an academic pastoral ministry program, the principles of justice and peace, family as domestic church, and the church. He has also written articles on a variety of topics, many focusing on justice and peace (such as the series for The Peace Voice and the Rochester Catholic Worker) and the social mission of the Church. Finally, he has reviewed various books and has written explanatory pieces for use in the parish. He has made a number of presentations at local and national conferences (Consistent Ethic of Life, Christian Life Communities, National Catholic Education) as well as at many parishes on topics of justice and ministry. He was a featured speaker at a diocesan Ministry Day. Most recently, he presented a paper at Walsh's conference on Reconsidering Vatican II and has been asked to address the National Organization of Catholic Social Action Directors.
Recent and Forthcoming Publications:
- [forthcoming]—Competition: The Original Sin, and What the Church Can Do About It. Canton: Oliver House.
- 2003—"Walsh University" in J. A. Hodges et al. (eds). Cradles of Conscience: Ohio's Independent Colleges and Universities. Kent: Kent State University.
- 1992—First Church: A Practical Theology of Family as the Domestic Church. Youngstown: Diocese of Youngstown.
- 1990—The Principles of Justice and Peace: An Introduction to Catholic Social Thought. Canton: Walsh College.
Torma has been active in peace and justice and campus ministry. He organized and then directed Walsh's Institute for Justice and Peace for 20 years, initiating the Blouin Peace Park along the way. He also directed Walsh's Pastoral Ministry program. He has served on a large number of Walsh committees, chairing some (including the Faculty Affairs Committee, the Scholarship Committee, the Administrative Council, and the Faculty Assembly). Outside Walsh, he has been a member of numerous committees including the Rochester Center for Theological Studies, the Justice and Peace Committees of the Ohio Council of Churches, and the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities. He also served on two different Permanent Diaconate Committees, a Campaign for Human Development Allocation Committee, and a Family Perspective Implementation Committee. He served as the evaluator of the theology and pastoral ministry programs at Dominican University. He is now a peer reviewer for the Catholic Journal of Higher Education. In his own parish, he has served on a number of committees, including the parish council and the Liturgy Committee (chair). He is currently helping Bishop John Michael Botean of the Romanian Byzantine Church to organize a Catholic Worker House in Alliance, Ohio, where he lives.