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Personal profile


I am a Roman Catholic, lay woman theologian, committed to teaching and research in the areas of ecclesioogy, sacramental theology and practical theology, and with a particular concern for working theologically in ways that contribute to ministerial formation and church life and mission. Having completed my doctorate under the supervision of Professor Stephen Sykes, in 1990, I juggled pastoral and theological work with raising our four children. During this time I was lucky enough to work pastorally as a lay assistant in parish and student chaplaincy ministries, and to develop teaching and research at Margaret Beaufort Institue of Theology, in the Cambridge Theological Federation, (Vice Pricnipal and Director of Studies) and at Allen Hall, the Westminster Catholic seminary. A major part of recent work has been with the Heythrop Institue ( where I have worked with James Sweeney, Helen Cameron and Cath Duce in the development of Theological Action Research (the ARCS project), and, most recently, on the Visions for Educational Leadership project.


MA Cambridge University (1985)

PhD Cambridge University (1990)

Research interests

  • The development of integrative practical theological approaches to church - especially through Theological Action Research methods. (see below). In particular, working with church practitioners as a systematic and practical theologian is a major thread in my work. (see below).
  • Questions of ministry and mission, especially lay discipleship and the place of marriage in Christian ministries. Here the notion of the 'domestic church', as the basis for an ecclesiology appropriate to the church in late modernity is a particular focus.
  • The transmission of faith: education, catechesis, and evangelisation in contemporary contexts and late modern culture. In particular, this has been thought through in relation to Christian theological understanding and practices of education (see below, research projects and publications)
  • Pastoral-practical theology in relation to systematic theology; and an exploration of this relation as a development of a confessional Catholic working theology. Critiques of current literature and the development of approaches drawing on the Catholic / mystical theological tradition.
  • Ecumenical theology, and the spirituality and practice of dialogue as a theological method embodied by ecumenism.

Research projects

The ARCS project - a six year project, working with 15 church based organisations, using theological action research as a methodology for theological reflection on and for practice

Theological action research capacity building - mentoring, with the ARCS team, five organisations developing their own theological action research projects.

Visions for Educational Leadership - a national (England and Wales) project, working with seven Catholic dioceses, and schools leaders (around 50) from those dioceses.

Professional affiliations

Catholic Theological Association of Great Britain

European Catholic Theological Society

British and Irish Association for Practical Theology ( - currently serving as Chair

Society for the Study of Theology

Ecclesiology and Ethnography group (

Consultancy work

I have worked with a wide range of church providers of adult formation, as well as with agencies of the Catholic Bishops; Conferences of England and Wales. In particular, the areas of mission and evangelisation, and ecumenism, as well as education and formation, have been central. Recent work with the Marriage and Family Life Agency of the Bishops' Conference, and with the charity Marriage Care, is developing theological consultancy work around the questions of marriage and family life in our contemporary context.

CAFOD theological action research project, acting as consultant to Susy Brouard.

In Ecumenism: Member of the British Methodist Roman Catholic Committee; and the British URC-Catholic Committee. Member of the Methodist Roman Catholic International Dialogue Commission; Member of the WCC-Pontifical Council for Christian Unity Working Group on the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.

Trustee: Practical Theology Journal; and Marriage Care.


  • Ecclesiology
  • Practical theological methodologies, and spiritualities
  • Sacramental theology
  • Contemporary Roman Catholic thought
  • Ecumenical practice and theology



  • BR Christianity
  • Catholic theology
  • Theology of Marriage and Family
  • Christian Education
  • BT Doctrinal Theology
  • Ecclesiology
  • Theological Action Research
  • Sacramental theology

Research Output 2006 2019

Disclosing Church: An Ecclesiology Learnt from Conversations in Practice

Watkins, C., 6 Sep 2019, (Accepted/In press) London: Routledge. 310 p.

Research output: Book/ReportBook

Catholic Practical Theology in English–speaking contexts. Instincts for Grace in Ordinary.

Watkins, C., 2018, QUESTIONS OF PRACTICAL THEOLOGY: CONTEXTS AND CONCEPTS: Reflections of the Santiago Group. Mazzini, M., G. M. & Sanchez, O. (eds.). Colombia: Pontificia Universidad Javeriana, 16 p.

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

Disclosing Church: Ecclesiology in Four Voices

Watkins, C. & Cameron, H., 2018, Routledge.

Research output: Book/ReportBook

Educational Leadership in Catholic Schools: the vocation to church in ordinary

Watkins, C., Sep 2017, (Accepted/In press) Educational Leadership in Catholic Schools: the vocation to church in ordinary. Springer

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

THE FAITH-FULL INTELLECT: Learning from pre-modern theology for a late modern pedagogy

Watkins, C., 2017, Faith, Formation and Education. Stuart-Buttle, R. (ed.). Palgrave Macmillan

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

Activities 2013 2020

Theological Action research: methods and processes

Clare Watkins (Speaker)
13 Feb 2020

Activity: Talk or presentationInvited talk

"Ek-centric Ecclesiology"

Clare Watkins (Speaker)
4 Mar 2019

Activity: Talk or presentationInvited talk

Church Leadership Porgramme

Clare Watkins (Organiser)
30 Oct 2019

Activity: OtherTypes of Public engagement and outreach - Media article or participation

Leadership in the Church

Clare Watkins (Speaker)
22 Jan 2019

Activity: Talk or presentationInvited talk

BIAPT Conference

Clare Watkins (Keynote/plenary speaker)
9 Jul 2019

Activity: Participating in or organising an eventParticipation in conference