Sister Julie Donovan (1936-2021)

Sister E. Julie Donovan, SNDdeN was born in Boston, Mass., daughter of John H. and Evelyn M. (Baum) Donovan. She attended St. Lazarus School in East Boston. After graduating in 1954 from Fitton High School in East Boston, she entered the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, where she was known as Sister Julie David for many years. She went on to graduate from Emmanuel College, majoring in Biology and Chemistry. She earned a Master's Degree in Counseling from Boston State College and a Master's Degree in Family Therapy from Southern Connecticut State University in New Haven.

Sister Julie was a teacher in several Notre Dame de Namur schools in Massachusetts including Holy Rosary School, Lawrence; Blessed Sacrament, Cambridge; St. Augustine's, Andover; and St. Gregory's, Dorchester. She was Principal of St. Bartholomew School in Needham.

In 1981, she changed the focus of her ministry to Family Therapy. She counseled families in the Amherst area and later with Catholic Charities in Worcester. She was Provincial Secretary and Personnel Director for the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur. She was Director of Pastoral Care at Notre Dame du Lac in Worcester, Mass., retiring in 2010.

Sister Julie was predeceased by three brothers, John H. Donovan Jr., Simon J. Donovan and Rev. David I. Donovan S.J. She leaves nieces and nephews, and her sisters in religion, the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur.

Sister Julie died at age 84 on Thursday, June 17, 2021 in the UMass-Memorial Medical Center after a short illness.

To make a gift to the Sisters in memory of Sister Julie, please click here or write to the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, 351 Broadway, Everett, MA 02149.


Eulogy for Sister Julie

In her life, Julie was a devoted daughter, a loving sister, a generous aunt, a faithful friend, and an exemplary Sister of Notre Dame. She took the admonition of Micah (6:8) to heart: "What is it that the Lord asks of you? Only this: that you live justly, love tenderly, and walk humbly with your God." To paraphrase the song, each day, she endeavored to see God more clearly, love Him more dearly, and follow Him more nearly. She was filled with wonder and awe at the little miracles of life: a turbulent sea crashing on Gloucester's rocks at high tide, the hummingbirds of Carmel gliding to and from the flower petals, the elaborate greeting dance of a favorite puppy, the tired jokes and laughter of her oldest friend.

Julie was a prayerful and holy woman. She loved geography and to travel. I shall always remember on our trip to Rome, we celebrated Mass at St. Peter's on Corpus Christi Sunday. We were at the end of the line processing up to the main altar to receive Communion. As Julie stood before the priest with her right hand extended – palm ready to receive the Eucharist, the priest mumbled in Italian, "All gone" as he turned on his heel and walked away. We nearly collapsed in laughter that we were denied the Eucharist on Corpus Christi Sunday in St. Peter's in Rome. What could be more ironic and in keeping with the anomalies of Holy Mother Church?

Julie loved nature, animals, archeology, and politics- especially arguments on behalf of the poor and issues of social justice. She was an ardent and committed Democrat. She loved that she came from the island of Winthrop and grew up surrounded by water. She loved to look through binoculars or the telescope at the ever-changing ocean and to follow the exploits of the coastal birds.

Julie loved to read and to watch movies like "Pretty Woman;" she was a hopeless romantic and filled with nostalgia. She was the last surviving sibling in her family, and she continued to grieve for her deceased brothers. I became her sister and her family sharing holidays, celebrations, weddings, and funerals. I was honored and privileged to be her best friend and to walk, stagger, and climb with her through all oflife's trials and challenges.

Julie served in Notre Dame as a teacher, guidance counselor, principal, Province Secretary and Personnel Director, family therapist, and Director of Pastoral Care. For her, each ministry was an opportunity for growth and for change- a chance to meet new people and new needs and to be creative in problem solving and working toward shared goals. With God as her ground and her touchstone, she moved through life with grace and steadfast presence.

Julie was a loyal and faithful friend through good times and through difficulty. She was constant and committed in facing life with a smile and a sense of humor. She had an abundance of common sense, knowledge, and wisdom. She was generous and forgiving. It was a source of constant good humor that Julie was a 9 on the Enneagram she preferred to sit and to observe life unfolding around her. She was reflective and thoughtful before she jumped into a fray. Although we often teased her for acting like a duchess, she was hard-working and truly compassionate -understanding of others and of their limitations and failings. She did not sugar coat the truth but proclaimed it with her heart and her life's actions.

Julie was a peacemaker. She lived the Good News and brought the presence of the Good God into the lives she touched each day. I shall miss her more than words can convey. But Julie believed that our loved ones go before us into heaven, and from there they continue to watch over us and to share their love, made perfect now in God Who is Love. I hope that that is so. Rest in peace, dear friend, rest in peace.

– Pamela M. Pettinati, M.D., Ph.D.