In Memoriam: Brother Peter Donohue

Brother Peter Donohue in 2013

Mission accomplished!

Brother, as a disciple of Jesus Christ you were called to 
Follow in His footsteps and ministers God’s healing
Touch of love through word and deed to all who 
You met in your journey of life. Brother, you responded to
The invitation, ‘Come, follow me.’

Fundamental Principles

Well done, good, and faithful servant…Now enter the joy of your Lord (Mt. 25:21). Born in Manhattan to Mary and Patrick Donohue on February 8, 1927, Peter was the oldest of their children. Having moved to Brooklyn, Peter first met the Xaverian Brothers as a fifth grader at Holy Cross Elementary School. He recalled with affection his relationship with the Brothers. “My classmates and I were attracted to the Brothers. They were good teachers, but more than that, they knew us and even then seemed to minister God’s healing touch of love through word and deed.” (Notes, 2009)

Upon graduating from Holy Cross, Pete attended Saint Joseph’s Juniorate in Peabody, Massachusetts. He entered the Congregation in February, 1944. Peter earned his BA degree in English from Catholic University in Washington, DC and his Masters theological studies from Saint John’s University in New York. Pete also did post graduate studies at Spalding in Louisville, the University of Maryland and Johns Hopkins in Baltimore. Pete’s impulse for our Congregation’s mission became increasingly clearer and stronger throughout his seventy-two years as a Xaverian.

Sharing our Founder’s zeal for our mission, in 1949 Pete embraced his first assignment at Flaget with his characteristic enthusiasm. With the same desire to contribute to the learning of his students, Peter moved across town to St. Xavier’s and spent the next five years there. He would return once again to Flaget (1960-67). In between these missions, Pete accepted the very challenging assignment to Mount Loretto (the ‘Rock’) with fervor. These youngsters needed Brothers who were strict but also cared about them. Mt. Loretto was a residential school on Staten Island sponsored by the Archdiocese of New York for youngsters referred by the courts. Peter also taught at St. John’s High School, Worcester, MA. From 1967 through 1973 Pete served in three Maryland School of sour Maryland: Ryken High School; Leonard Hall and Mt. St. Joseph. Peter was head of school at the latter two.

Over the course of your lifetime, your loving Father
Will gradually convert you to Himself, if you let Him.

Fundamental Principles

Peter allowed the Spirit to lead him. Responding to a deep call to minister to the poor and marginalized Peter began his second mission in life. From 1973 -1996 Pete was involved in prison ministry. He spent twelve years at the Maryland House of Corrections in Jessup, MD. From 1989 through 1996 Pete was Director of Detention Ministries for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and served as President of the American Correctional Chaplains Association from 1993-1996. Pete’s conversion to the Lord inspired in him a deep commitment to restorative justice. In video clip prepared for the close the last General Chapter, Pete talks of restorative justice and the need for those who minister to prisoner, “…to simply love them.”

The following quote from Pete’s personal notes, speaks of his spiritual journey.

I am 83 and being treated for cancer at Mass General, but I have never been happier, never felt holier. I pray every day for God to fill me with forgiveness and love. This doesn’t mean I am not a sinner. I am. … But I have learned to love and forgive myself, to love and forgive others and to let God love and forgive me. 

(Notes, 2009)

Peter’s life was an ordinary and common life inspired by his quest for God whether teaching in our schools, working with adults in Easter Kentucky at the David School or as Executive Director of St. Mary’s Human Development Center in South Carolina or doing volunteer ministry at Catholic Charities in Brooklyn while taking monthly treatments at Sloan-Kettering. All that he did, he did with love.

Brother, if you allow yourself to be formed by God through the 
Common, ordinary, unspectacular flow of everyday life,
Your will gradually experience a liberation and a freedom
Never before imagined.

Fundamental Principles

Pete leaves us with a wonderful example of living our charism. For that we thank him. May he rest in the peace that Christ promises us.

In Christ,

Brother Edward Driscoll, CFX

General Superior