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Rev Fr James William Donovan
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Birth: Aug. 29, 1941
Providence County
Rhode Island, USA
Death: Oct. 27, 2010
San Francisco
San Francisco County
California, USA

The Reverend James W. Donovan, C.S.P., age 69, died suddenly on Oct. 27, 2010, in the Paulist Fathers' Residence at Old St. Mary's Cathedral in San Francisco. Born in Providence, RI to Thomas M. and Frances C. (Fennessy) Donovan, he was a member of the Missionary Society of St. Paul the Apostle for 48 years.

He was a graduate of La Salle Academy, class of 1959. He earned a bachelor's degree in liberal arts from St. Paul College in Washington, DC in 1964, followed by a master's degree from St. Paul College School of Theology in 1970. He also earned a post-graduate certificate from the Chinese University of Hong Kong in 1972 and a second master's degree in business administration focusing on labor and industrial relations from the University of Rhode Island in 1990.

After entering the Paulist novitiate in 1961 and making his first promise with the Paulist Fathers on September 8, 1962, he made his final promise with the congregation on September 8, 1965, and was ordained to the Paulist priesthood on April 27, 1968. After ordination, he entered parish ministry at St. Lawrence Church and Newman Center in Minneapolis, MN., from 1968-70. He then ministered at St. Mary's Chinese Center in San Francisco from 1970-77. During that time he spent two years at the Chinese University in Hong Kong learning to speak and read Cantonese Chinese (1971-72).

As one of the few Chinese speaking priests in the Archdiocese of San Francisco, his ministry was in great demand. He also celebrated Mass in Chinese at St. Monica and St. Ann churches. After his first assignment in San Francisco, he spent a year in campus ministry at the Newman Center of McGill University in Montreal from 1977-78. He then went on to Tucson, Arizona, where he engaged in hospital ministry for three months before he became the director of the Southeast Asian Refugee Program and subsequently the director of the School of Ministry for the Diocese of Tucson. During this time he became familiar with the Vietnamese and Hmong languages.

Returning to San Francisco, he again ministered at St. Mary's Chinese Center from 1982-84, before entering parish ministry at St. Peter's Church in Toronto from 1984-85. He then spent two years earning a master's degree from the University of Rhode Island(1985-86). From there he went into parish ministry at St. Philip Neri Church in Portland, OR, (1987-88), followed by one year (1988-89) ministering at the Archdiocese Labor Guild for the Archdiocese of Boston.

Father Donovan remained in Boston for his next assignment as director of Newman House at Boston University, where he ministered from 1989 to 1994. Later he became pastor of Old St. Mary's Church in Chicago (1994-2002), where he supervised the planning, fund raising and construction of the new church. He then became superior at St. Paul's College in Washington, DC (2002-2005), returning to St. Mary's Chinese Center in San Francisco in 2006.

He was a loving and compassionate man who will be remembered for his keen intellect, contagious smile and tremendous wit. He was devoted to his family, his priestly community and his flock. His dedication to his Asian ministry and his particular love for the Chinese people and their customs is recognized across this continent and the Far East.

He was an excellent singer and musician and as a member of the Paulist Folk Singers in the 1960's he performed on college campuses across the country, recording and performing at Carnegie Hall in New York City in 1965.

A world traveler, he frequently visited his many friends in Hong Kong and celebrated Mass on a number of occasions for Mother Teresa in India. Fr. Jim maintained a close relationship with the De La Salle Christian Brothers and frequently celebrated the Eucharist with them in Narragansett, RI. He also assisted at St. Mary's Parish in Carolina, RI whenever he spent time at the family residence in Charlestown, RI.

He is survived by his brothers Thomas, Martin, Edward (Ted) Donovan and his sister Frances (Franne) Donovan Amelse and was preceded into eternal life by his brother, John. He leaves two sisters-in-law, a brother-in-law, several nieces, nephews, grandnephews and a grandniece.

Fr. Donovan's funeral will be held Tuesday at 9:45 am from THE URQUHART-MURPHY FUNERAL HOME, 800 Greenwich Avenue, Route 5, Warwick (Exit 12A on I-95) with a Concelebrated Mass of Christian Burial for the repose of his soul at 11:00 am in St. Ann Church, 1493 Cranston Street, Cranston. Interment will follow in the family plot at St. Ann Cemetery. Relatives and friends are invited. Visiting Hours on Monday from 4-8 pm in the funeral home. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to the Office for Financial Development, North American Paulist Center, 3015 Fourth Street NE, Washington, DC 20017, or to The Frances Fennessy Donovan Endowment at La Salle Academy, 612 Academy Avenue, Providence, RI 02908, or to a charity of your choice.

Published in the Providence Journal on November 7, 2010

Family links: 
  Thomas M Donovan (1911 - 1981)
  Frances C Fennessy Donovan (1914 - 2006)
Saint Ann Cemetery
Providence County
Rhode Island, USA
Plot: Sec Q Lot 30
Maintained by: Paulist Archives
Originally Created by: SCVet
Record added: Nov 07, 2010
Find A Grave Memorial# 61279782
Rev Fr James William Donovan
Added by: SCVet
Rev Fr James William Donovan
Added by: Paulist Archives
Rev Fr James William Donovan
Added by: Paulist Archives
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Rest In Peace, Father James!
- Eman Bonnici
 Added: Nov. 1, 2012

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