Reverend Joseph Cheah, OSM, Ph.D.

Chair and Professor, Department of Philosophy, Theology, and Religious Studies
Joined USJ:
Academic Degrees Ph.D., Graduate Theological Union
M.A., Graduate Theological Union
M-Div., Franciscan School of Theology
B.S., University of Southern California
Contact Information


Joseph Cheah, OSM, Ph.D. is Professor of Religious Studies and Theology, and Chair of the Department of Philosophy, Theology and Religious Studies. In the classroom, he sees himself as a co-learner, someone who collaborates with students for insight and understanding. Telling pertinent stories and sharing appropriate experiences from his unique social location as Asian American and positionality as religious priest have helped him to reclaim teaching and learning as an essential part of faculty-student dialogue.
Fr. Joe has made robust contributions in the fields of Asian American religions and theology, Buddhist Studies, World Christianity, race and religion. He is the author of Race and Religion in American Buddhism (OUP, 2011) which is the first monograph to take race seriously as a category of analysis in American Buddhist scholarship (Brooke Schedneck) and “stands to transform the discourse on American Buddhism and Asian American religions in significant and much needed ways” (Sharon Suh). His recent book Anti-Asian Racism (Orbis, 2023) has been reviewed as “an exceptional book … on the genealogy and variants of anti-Asian racism in the U.S.” (Thomas Hampton) and “a must-read for all Americans” (Peter Phan). He is a co-editor on the Palgrave Macmillan series, “Asian Christianity in Diaspora” with Grace Ji-Sun Kim, with whom he co-authored a book on Theological Reflections on “Gangnam Style.” In recognition of his record of exceptional scholarship, the University in 2018 awarded him with the Sister Mary Ellen Murphy Faculty Scholarship Award.
He has been an invited speaker on anti-Asian racism, Catholic Social Teaching, and other topics to audiences at diverse educational levels across the country. He was part of Asian American Christian Collaborative delegates invited to a White House meeting to address central issues faced by Asian American communities.


Advisory Committee, Asian Pacific American Religious Research Initiative
Member of the Catholic Theological Society of America
Member of the American Academy of Religion (AAR)
Founding member of the Society of Race, Ethnicity and Religion
Board Member, Office for Catholic Social Justice Ministry, Archdiocese of Hartford
Vice President, The Children Charitable Foundation of Myanmar, Inc
Former Trustee of Catholic Theological Union

Courses Taught

RELS 125: Faith, Theology in a Pluralistic World
RELS 258: Religion and Race in the U.S.
RELS 266: World Christianity
INTD 219: Introduction to Interfaith Leadership
INTD 301: Mercy Integrative Seminar


2023 Joseph Cheah, Anti-Asian Racism: Myths, Stereotypes, and Catholic Social Teaching. New York: Orbis Books.
2023 “Beyond Essentialist Understanding of Asianness in Multicultural Liturgy”
2022 Joseph Cheah and Sharon Suh, “Western Buddhism and Race,” in The Oxford Encyclopedia of Buddhism. Oxford University Press.
2021 “Racial Literacy, the Black-White Binary, and an Equitable Learning Environment,” The Wabash Center Journal on Teaching. Volume 2, Number 1.
2020 “An Asian Pneumatology of the FABC and the Re-imagining of Hospitality and Spirituality in Asia.” QUEST: Studies on Religion and Culture in Asia”. QUEST: Studies on Religion and Culture in Asia.
2020 “Life in the Fishbowl: An Asian American Autobiographical Theological Reflection” in David K. Yoo and Khyati Joshi, eds., Envisioning Religion, Race, and Asian Americans.


Fr. Joe’s areas of research are in the fields of race and religion, Buddhist Studies, Asian American theological studies, and World Christianity.