St. John's Theology Professor Serves As a
‘Bridge between Generations’
Meghan Clark, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Theology
and Religious Studies at St. John's University, was still in
high school when she decided to become a theologian.
Dr. Clark found her inspiration while attending one of the
Vincentian Chair of Social Justice lectures held during the
University's annual Founder's Week
Her father, Charles
Clark, Ph.D., Professor of
Economics in The Peter J. Tobin College of
Business, is a Senior Fellow of the University's Vincentian Center for Church and
Society. He and his daughter often attended the lectures
One talk spoke to her in a profound way. As a high school freshman,
she was taken to hear Mary Ann Glendon, J.D., LL.M., a Harvard Law
professor and former U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See. Glendon
shared her experiences as the Holy See’s representative to the 1995
United Nations Women's Conference in Beijing. “At the end,” Dr.
Clark recalled, “I turned to my father and said, 'That's what I
want to do.'"
Dedicated to the “Mission and
Complexities” of Catholicism
That desire evolved over the years but essentially never changed,
said Dr. Clark. "It was a concrete moment when I realized it was
possible to engage issues of social justice in a different way. As
a Catholic moral theologian, I get to do that to a degree no other
field would allow."
After receiving her Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy and Theology at
Fordham University in 2003, she went on to earn her doctorate in
theological ethics from Boston College in 2009. Dr. Clark joined
the faculty of St. John's College of
Liberal Arts and Sciences last year.
Recently, Dr. Clark was appointed to the Board of Directors of
America Press, Inc., which oversees America
magazine, the national Catholic weekly. She also was asked
to serve as a consultant to the Domestic Justice Engagement
Development Committee of the United
States Conference of Catholic Bishops.
Dr. Clark believes that, in both instances, she was chosen partly
to provide a more youthful voice to the formation of policy. "I'm
there as somebody from a new generation (of Catholics) and as a
theologian committed to the mission and complexities of
In those capacities, Dr. Clark often finds herself "the youngest
person in the room." Yet she is helping to teach the next
generation of Catholics — as well as many non-Catholics with little
exposure to the faith. "It's a huge honor and responsibility to be
a bridge between generations," she stressed.
Traditions Rooted in Justice
A moral theologian who specializes in social ethics, Dr. Clark
focuses on human rights and its solidarity with Catholic social
teaching. She also is interested in medical ethics and economic
justice. "All of it is about individual human dignity and the
common good," she noted.
Dr. Clark especially enjoys giving her students new perspectives on
ethical questions. "I teach the Moral Theology of Health Care
course in the College of Pharmacy and
Health Sciences. It’s based on a Catholic and Vincentian
perspective, which is very different from the way other schools
approach medical ethics or healthcare."
As a result, she added, students “have to look at a very practical
field in a very different way. The concern for the patient is
integrated with the role of the community, the common good and
responsibility to one’s neighbor — it’s a much more holistic
approach that I hope serves students well.”
Educated in the Jesuit tradition, Dr. Clark sees parallels between
it and St. John’s Vincentian mission. "Yes, there are differences,”
she said. “But both approaches are about going out into the world,
living the Gospel and engaging people who are suffering. Both use
education as an essential part of what they do."
At its best, Dr. Clark said, Catholic social tradition stands on
the side of those whom the rest of society fails to recognize. "We
have this rich, intellectual tradition of being able to say that
(doing what is right) is not only deeply rooted in our faith but in
reason. It's about living a faith that does justice."