Maureen O’Connell, Ph.D.

School of Arts and Sciences, Religion

After eight years in the Theology Department at Fordham University, Maureen H. O’Connell returned in 2013 to her native city of Philadelphia to Chair the Department of Religion at La Salle University where she is also a professor of Christian Ethics. She holds a B.A. in history from Saint Joseph’s University and a Ph.D. in theological ethics from Boston College. She authored Compassion: Loving Our Neighbor in an Age of Globalization (Orbis Books, 2009) and If These Walls Could Talk: Community Muralism and the Beauty of Justice (The Liturgical Press, 2012), which won the College Theology Book of the Year Award in 2012 and the Catholic Press Association’s first place for books in theology in 2012. Her current research project explores racial identity formation, racism, and racial justice in Catholic institutions of higher education. She serves on the board of the Society for the Arts in Religious and Theological Studies and is a member of St. Vincent De Paul parish in Germantown, where is also a member of POWER (Philadelphians Organizing to Witness, Empower, and Rebuild). POWER is an interfaith federation of 90 faith communities committed to making Philadelphia the city of “just love” (as well as “brotherly love and sisterly affection”) through a more just wage for workers, fair funding for public schools, immigration reform and decarceration.

Areas of Expertise

Christian/Catholic social ethics

The arts and social justice

Racism and racial justice


Ph.D., Theological Ethics, Boston College

B.A., History, Saint Joseph’s University


“After White Supremacy: The Viability of Virtue Ethics for Racial Justice,” Journal of Moral Theology, 3.1 (2014): 83-104.

“The Dance of Open Minds and Hearts: Aesthetic Solidarity as Antidote to an Anemic Solidarity,” Political Theology, 15.1 (2014): 74-87.

“Religious Ethics in the 21st Century: Spheres of Relationship,” in Religious Ethics in the 21st Century, ed. Paul Myhre. Winona, WI: Anselm Academic, 2012.

“For Every Francis, A Clare,” The Washington Post, March 16th, 2013.

“Catholics and Racism: From Examination of Conscience to Examination of Culture,” The National Catholic Reporter, on-line and in print, 30 March 2012


If These Walls Could Talk: Community Muralism and the Beauty of Justice. Collegeville, MN: The Liturgical Press, 2012.

She Who Imagines: Contemporary Feminist Aesthetics, co-edited with Laurie Cassidy. Collegeville, MN: The Liturgical Press, November 2012.

“A Harsh and Dreadful Beauty: The Aesthetic Dimension of Dorothy Day’s Ethics,” pp. 163-181

Religion, Economics and Culture in Conflict and Conversation, co-edited with Laurie M. Cassidy. Maryknoll, New York: Orbis Books, 2011.

Compassion: Loving Our Neighbor in an Age of Globalization. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2009.


“The Upper Room of Whiteness: Encountering a Personal History of White Dominance in Catholic Philadelphia,” PICO training for national facilitators of “Year of Encounter with Pope Francis,” Our Lady of Hope Parish, Philadelphia, 28 April, 2015.

“Rising in the People! The Latino Moral Imagination as a Resource for Social Justice,” 15th Annual Romero Lecture sponsored by the Romero Center, Rutgers University Camden, 20 March 2015.

“Painting Outside the Color Line: Community Muralism as Resisting White Supremacy,” John C. Kenefick Humanities Lecture, Creighton University, Omaha, NB, 3 March 2015

“Beyond Man of the Year: Assessing Celebrity and Substance in the Papacy of Francis,” panel presentation with the Roman Catholic Studies Group, American Academy of Religion, 22 November, 2014.

“Hiring for Diversity,” panel presentation to the Status of Racial and Ethnic Minorities in the Profession Committee, American Academy of Religion meeting, 23 November 2014.

“Coloring Outside the Color Line: Community Muralism and Racial Justice,” Holy Cross College, 30 October 2014.

“Encounter, Engage, Create! Moral Imagination and Ignatian Leadership,” Bannan Institute for Ignatian Spirituality, Santa Clara University, 9 October 2014.

“Seeking a Joy Ever New: Pope Francis’ New Evangelization & the Arts in Age of Economic Exclusion,” Heythrope College, London, 24 June 2014.

“Painting Social Transformation: Common Beauty and the Common Good,” Moreau Lecture, King’s College, 10 April 2014.

“If These Walls Could Talk: Community Muralism and the Beauty of Justice,” American Catholic Historical Society annual lecture, Philadelphia, PA, 8 April 2014.

“Taking on the Smell of the Sheep: Racial Justice in the Missionary Key of Evangelii Gaudium,” panelist at Georgetown University’s Berkeley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs symposium, “A New Vision for the Church?: Evangelii Gaudium – Pope Francis’ Agenda for Church, World, and Social Justice,” 28 March 2014.

“Francis: The Euro-American Pope,” panelist on “Pope Francis: Reformer or Radical?” for College Theology Society section at the American Academy of Religion, 23 November 2013.

“Re-Imaging Justice: Beauty, the Arts, and Christian Ethics,” Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary tri-annual Festival of Learning, 20 – 26 July 27, 2013.

“No More Time for Nostalgia: Millennial Morality and Remixing the Catholic Moral Tradition,” College Theology Society Annual Convention, Creighton University, 30 May 2013.

“Confessing Complicity: Catholic Moral Theology and White Claims to Moral Goodness in Racial Injustice,” Catholic Theological Society of America, St. Louis, MO, 6 June 2012.

“The Age of Obama: Continuity and Change in War and Peacemaking,” panel presentation at the Society of Christian Ethics annual meeting, Washington, D.C., 7 January 2012.

“The Dangerous apriori of Whiteness in Philosophical Theology,” panel presentation in the Philosophical Theology section of the College Theology Society, Iona College, New Rochelle, NY, 6 June 2011.