Mary Shawn Copeland (born August 24, 1947) is a Professor Emerita of Systematic Theology at Boston College. She is known for her work in theological anthropology, political theology, and African American Catholic theology.
An only child, Copeland grew up in Detroit, Michigan, and was formerly a Catholic nun.
Copeland received her B.A. in English in 1969 from Madonna College, in Michigan, before completing her PhD in systematic theology in 1991 from Boston College. Copeland held posts at Xavier University of Louisiana, Yale Divinity School, and Marquette University. She worked as an adjunct professor in the Department of Theology at Boston College for a number of years, and joined in 2003 as Associate Professor of Systematic Theology, becoming a full Professor in 2013. She retired and became Professor Emerita in 2019.
In 2003-2004, Copeland was the first African American and first African American woman to serve as president of the Catholic Theological Society of America. From 2001- 2005, Copeland was also the convenor of the Black Catholic Theological Symposium. In October 2019, Copeland delivered the Cunningham Lectures in New College, University of Edinburgh, on the topic "Theology as Political: The Weight, the Yearning, the Urgency of Life."
In 2018, Copeland became the first African American theologian honored with the prestigious John Courtney Murray Award. A festschrift was also produced that year in honor of Copeland, entitled Enfleshing Theology.
- M. Shawn Copeland (2009). The Subversive Power of Love: The Vision of Henriette Delille. New York: Paulist Press. ISBN 978-0-8091-4489-1.
- M. Shawn Copeland (2010). Enfleshing Freedom: Body, Race, and Being. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press. ISBN 978-0-8006-6274-5.
- M. Shawn Copeland (2018). Knowing Christ Crucified: The Witness of African American Religious Experience. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books. ISBN 978-1-62698-298-7.