Mary J. Novak is a lawyer and a chaplain, with a particular focus on Ignatian Spirituality and the intersection between psychology and spirituality. Mary studied and trained in theology and spirituality at Santa Clara University and the Washington Theological Union from which she earned a Masters of Arts in Pastoral Studies. She has extensive experience in pastoral ministry, including the ministry of spiritual direction, having served in hospitals and universities for over 10 years.
A graduate of Santa Clara University Law School, Mary practiced for over a decade in the areas of California water, energy, environmental and natural resources law, first at Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe and then at Ellison & Schneider. While at Orrick, she served on a team pursuing a capital appeal for a man on the largest death row in the United States. She was a member of the Clinical Law Faculty at Santa Clara University Law School and later, she served as the Director for Faculty Development in what is now the Ignatian Center for Jesuit Education at Santa Clara University.
Another area of Mary's study and practice is peacebuilding, having studied at Eastern Mennonite University's Center for Justice and Peacebuilding. She focused her final project at the Washington Theological Union on Catholic Peacebuilding in the context of Kenya's post-conflict reconciliation where she lived for a year. She returned to the U.S. to serve the Leadership Conference of Women Religious in their conflict with the Vatican. Mary currently serves as Chair of the Board of the Catholic Mobilizing Network to End the Use of the Death Penalty and Promote Restorative Justice.