In 2007, at age 29 and with a 2-year-old son, Megan Mayeux became a widow.
“The grief and shock were so terrible that I fell apart for a while,” she shared, recalling when her husband, Peter, died. “It was during this deep grief that I felt the presence of our Lord, and I wanted nothing more than to be able to feel it again. I realized then that people learn more about themselves during the difficult times than if there were no struggles.”
As part of looking for that presence, Mayeux decided to learn everything she could about theology. Now, Mayeux helps others feel that presence and offers comfort during some of their most vulnerable times. In January, she became the director of pastoral care at St. Bernards Medical Center in Jonesboro, Arkansas. She is the first layperson to hold that position.
Her thirst for theology led her to Newman University, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in theology in 2018 and a master’s degree in theological studies in 2020.
“I was drawn to Newman for many reasons,” Mayeux said. “The traditional values and the support of the ASC (Adorers of the Blood of Christ) are the glory of Newman, as well as the welcoming professors and beautiful campus.”
During her time at Newman, Mayeux also pursued Clinical Pastoral Education units. Upon earning her Master of Arts in Theological Studies, she completed her fifth unit and was employed as a full-time staff chaplain for Mercy Health System, one of the 25 largest health systems in the U.S. She then wrapped up all seven necessary units and earned her certification from the National Association of Catholic Chaplains.
“I love ministry in the hospital and feel that this is the way I can live out Christ’s mission,” Mayeux explained.
In her new role at St. Bernards, Mayeux is responsible for ensuring there are pastoral services for the health care system’s patients and staff and hosting visiting priests and pastors.
A difficult road to fruitful leadership
The death of her husband and other challenges in her life, including becoming homeless after Peter died amid the housing crisis, provided her with the experience and tools to do the work she now does, Mayeux said.
“There is a lot of death as a chaplain in the hospital, and it was through my struggles that I am able to walk with others on their worst day,” she said. “I feel that our Lord was preparing me for this part of my life since I was born. The death of my husband remains a transformational event in my life. Not a day goes by that I don’t think of my late husband as I watch our son, now 17 years of age, grow up, become an Eagle Scout and get his first girlfriend.
“Just as my grief transformed me and touches those I minister to, so does my near homelessness,” she said.
Mayeux truly feels that the Holy Spirit led her to begin the study of theology. She also credits Newman and her professors with guiding her career.
Specifically, Director of the Graduate Theology Program Joshua Papsdorf went above and beyond to ensure that the curriculum and education was worth the investment for Mayeux.
“College is an investment, and the whole package of attending Newman shaped me,” Mayeux said.
Papsdorf also brought out Mayeux’s passion for ethics. He helped her realize she needed to earn Clinical Pastoral Education units to become certified as a chaplain as well.
“I’ve worked in my field since I began my Master of Arts in Theological Studies, and now I am the only female layperson in Arkansas certified by the National Association of Catholic Chaplains,” she said. “It all comes back to the dedication of the sisters to find the best professors, and those professors find the best curriculum.”
Mayeux is continuing her education. In addition to her new role, she is pursuing a doctorate in health care mission leadership with Loyola University Chicago.
“I wish I was still a Jet, but I’m happy to earn a new degree that joins my love of theology with bioethics and organizational ethics,” she said.
Earn your Master in Theological Studies
The Master in Theological Studies program prepares students to explore and explain the Catholic theological tradition and provides a solid grounding in that tradition.