Office for Mission and Heritage

About the Director

Sister Joy Clough, R.S.M., ’65, M.S., is the Director of the Office for Mission and Heritage and of the Center for Religion and Public Discourse at Saint Xavier University.

A Sister of Mercy of the West Midwest Community of the Institute of the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas, Sister Clough earned her master’s degree in journalism at the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana and her bachelor’s degree in English at Saint Xavier. Additional studies followed – in theology at the Jesuit School of Theology (Chicago) and in mass communications at Loyola University Chicago.

Years of high school teaching preceded Sister Clough’s transition to public relations practitioner. She initiated an office of communications for the then Chicago Province of the Sisters of Mercy, serving as its first director. Her communications work for the Sisters of Mercy took her to several countries in Central and South America served by the Mercy Sisters, building a broader understanding to the congregation’s members and ministries.

As Communications Director for the Archdiocese of Chicago (1984-1992), Sister Clough worked closely with Joseph Cardinal Bernardin during a media-intense period of public interest in Church matters – the consistent ethic of life, parish and school consolidations and closures, the appointment of women to significant archdiocesan positions, the first stages of the pedophilia crisis, new efforts to address racism – among others. This role occasioned two trips to the Vatican, allowing Sister Clough to cover the Synod on the Laity for the diocesan paper.

A Saint Xavier alumna, Sister Clough researched and wrote a history of the University – First in Chicago: A History of Saint Xavier University – that was published as part of the institution’s celebration of 150 years of educational service to Chicago (1997). Her other positions at SXU during this period included Secretary of the Corporation and Assistant to the President.

Elected President of the Sisters of Mercy, Regional Community of Chicago, Sister Clough served two terms in that office (1998-2006), during which time she was also a member and vice-chair of the Saint Xavier University Board of Trustees. After a sabbatical year of travel to several national parks across the U.S., Sister Clough returned to SXU as a special assistant in the Office for Mission and Heritage. She was named Director of that office and of the Center for Religion and Public Discourse in 2011, succeeding Sister Susan Sanders, R.S.M., Ph.D., the Center’s founding director.

In addition to the SXU history, Sister Clough is the author of In Service to Chicago: The History of Mercy Hospital (Mercy Hospital, Chicago, 1979) and of The Characters Within (ACTA Publications, 1997). She also compiled, expanded and edited a liturgically based book of prayers, Intercessions of Mercy (ACTA Publications, 2009).