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Mary Higgins Clark—Queen of Suspense, Queen of Philanthropy

February 5, 2020

Pictured above: Fr. Bob Warren, SA, and Mary Higgins Clark

Best-selling author Mary Higgins Clark passed on January 31st at age 92. Celebrated the world over as “The Queen of Suspense,” Clark was no less prolific in her good works. For her untold kindness, caring and generosity in support of the Franciscan Friars of the Atonement and other charitable organizations, Clark also earned the title of “The Queen of Philanthropy.”

“I’ve been very active in a lot of charities because I firmly believe that much is expected of those to whom much has been given,” Clark said.

Clark showed extraordinary devotion to the Friars of the Atonement, generously supporting their good works at Graymoor and their worldwide ministries, including St. Christopher’s Inn—a homeless shelter and substance abuse treatment community—for nearly four decades. In 1999, she received the Graymoor Award for her service to the Friars, and, in 2015, the Friars granted Clark and her husband, the late John J. Conheeney, the honor of Affiliates of the Franciscan Friars of the Atonement for “bearing witness to the Gospel in their daily lives by their use of time, talent, substance and opportunity for the good of others.”

Clark also consulted frequently with the Friars for their expert guidance on matters pertaining to the Catholic Church, which figured prominently in many of her novels, and Fr. Emil Tomaskovic, SA, Fr. Robert Warren, SA, and others in the order counted Clark as a close personal friend.

Clark wrote 56 best-selling books over a career spanning more than four decades, but arguably the greatest story she authored was that of her own life. A remarkable woman of strong Catholic faith, Clark beat the odds, overcoming enormous challenges and hardships to achieve the pinnacle of professional achievement in publishing, while also exhibiting a seemingly endless capacity for helping others, selflessly giving her money, time and energy to a host of charitable causes throughout her life. For her service to the Church, Clark was made a Dame of the Order of St. Gregory the Great, a papal honor, a Dame of Malta and a Lady of the Holy Sepulcher of Jerusalem.

“Mary Higgins Clark gave incalculable joy to so many people around the world, and she was a great friend to the Catholic Church and the Friars of the Atonement and a tireless champion of many charitable causes,” said the Very Rev. Brian F. Terry, SA, Minister General. “We Friars join Mary’s family, friends and her countless fans around the world in mourning her passing and in celebrating her life and the many gifts she bestowed upon us all.”

Frs. Jim Loughran and Brian Terry, SA, with John J. Conheeney and Mary Higgins Clark Conheeney and their Decree of Affiliation to the Franciscan Friars of the Atonement
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