Sister Paula Donovan, CSC

(November 27, 1922 - June 6, 2013)

Word has been received of the death of Sister M. Paula (Donovan), who died at 12:45 a.m. on Thursday, June 6, 2013, in Saint Mary’s Convent, Notre Dame, Indiana.

Sister Paula had a quiet, unobtrusive personality and yet, almost as a contradiction, she also was a people person. She loved to be involved with people of every walk of life and in this, she was outgoing but never forward. This gentle characteristic kept her in the minds and hearts of those she touched.

She was definitely in the minds and hearts of the parishioners of Queen of All Saints School in Michigan City, Indiana, when they invited her back on the occasion of the school’s 50th jubilee. She was honored as the school’s first principal with this statement of gratitude and praise: “The seed (of education) lovingly sown, has produced much fruit.” A huge banner honoring Sister Paula was mounted on the wall of the cafeteria for the happy occasion, a testament of Sister’s impact even after 50 years. She certainly deserved all the praise heaped upon her because in a real pioneer spirit, Sister Paula and Sister Alice Lamping opened the new school in two unheated rooms in the church basement while construction for the “real” school was under way. Even during these difficult circumstances, Sister Paula’s creativity gained her success with the 50 first-graders in her class. Teaching primary-grade children takes a special talent, and Sister Paula had that talent; she was an expert. Her students loved her and so did their parents.

Sister Paula was undaunted by obstacles. She quietly forged ahead to achieve whatever tasks she undertook. In her kind, gentle and focused way she could get others to support and help her when she set out to tackle a problem or project. Because she was so amiable, those she worked with did not feel manipulated but just cooperative, a shade of difference that made Sister smile and the twinkle in her eye brighten.

A sense of humor is always an asset, and Sister Paula’s Irish humor often surfaced to disarm a crisis situation or just to bring joy to daily living. Her laugh was contagious and her repertoire of Irish jokes endless. She was an asset in any setting.

She had the Midas touch when it came to ministries because she could turn any situation into a success; this was true in teaching, in formation and in health care support services. Because of her flexibility she could work with anyone, always affirming them and encouraging them to grow and to meet the challenges of daily life. She was a gift.

Sister Paula lived her life with love — love for her family, her prayer life in community, and those with whom she lived and, of course, all of nature. Daily walks around campus in her retirement years renewed her and lifted up her spirit. She is now lifted up in the Lord for an eternity of happiness. May Sister Paula rest in peace.


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