This year the Congregation of the Resurrection in Canada is blessed to be celebrating four Jubilarians! Today we would like to share a reflection by Fr. Jim Donohue, CR, who is celebrating 40 years of priestly ordination.
As I reflect upon forty years of priesthood in the Congregation of the Resurrection, one word comes to mind: gratitude. I am grateful to God for this call to religious life and priesthood and for all the people that God has put into my life to support and encourage this call.
I am grateful to my parents—Betty and Gene—and to my brothers—Brian, Bill, and Michael—for helping me grow up in a household that was a source of love and encouragement. Church, school, sports, extended family gatherings, and family outings shaped me in many positive ways that I simply did not appreciate at the time. Family support continued to grow through my brothers’ marriages, and I am grateful to Brian’s wife, Lynn, and their daughters Megan and Elise, and to Bill’s wife, Nancy, for their love. I must also mention my “Maryland cousins,” especially Barbara and Jack Doane, who always welcomed me with open arms.
I am grateful to all those I have encountered in education. This is an extremely long list because I have spent almost my entire life in school! Except for my first five years of life and two years ministering as a priest at St. Aloysius Parish, I have either been studying or teaching in Catholic schools for over 60 years. Elementary and secondary school teachers—many of whom I still remember—taught and formed me to have success in both undergraduate and graduate studies. As a 19-year-old seminarian at Resurrection College, my experience as an undergraduate at St. Jerome’s University was life-changing. Teachers such as Doug Letson and Ken McLaughlin not only introduced me into the disciplines of English and History, but they enkindled in me a love for learning and a foundation for future theological studies and teaching. Seminary studies at St. Peter’s shifted my focus from English to Theology. Graduate studies, under the tutelage of too many great teachers to begin to name, sharpened my theological focus and prepared me for a career of teaching, scholarship, and service at Mount St. Mary’s University.
Twenty-six years is a long time to be in one place, but Mount St. Mary’s University is not just a “place” but a “home” to so many people whom I came to love and who came to love me. I will be eternally grateful to the many faculty who took me “under their wings” in my first years. I think particularly of Bill Portier, Bill Collinge, Patsy McDonald, Mike Towle, and Carol Hinds. Colleagues such as David McCarthy, Mary Kate Birge, and Dana Ward have become life-long friends. Hockey players whom I coached for over 25 years are still part of my life. Student encounters, inside and outside the classroom, provided challenges, joys and fulfilment.
Over the years, I am grateful for friendships that I still cherish, namely, Joe Della Torre, Kevin Donelson, Don LaSalle, Ann and Larry McDonald, Erlinda Navasca, Lisa and Dan Bell, and Gloria Balsley. Each in his or her own way has nurtured, supported, and loved me beyond what I ever expected.
Last, but certainly not least, I am grateful for the Congregation of the Resurrection. I have been formed, encouraged, supported, challenged, and loved by members for 50 years. It started at Resurrection College in 1974, but members of the Congregation have supported me in my educational and pastoral ministry throughout these many years. Even now, in my new missionary ministry, the community, both provincial and international, has supported me each step of the way. My gratitude extends now to the men in Tanzania with whom I minister, as we work for the resurrection of society. I am in awe at how they have welcomed me in ways unimaginable.