Father Edward Donovan, CSP, dies

December 26, 2012

A Mass of Resurrection will be offered for Father Edward R. Donovan, CSP, on Jan. 12 at 10 a.m. at the St. Paul the Apostle Church in Los Angeles. Father Donovan died Dec. 24 in Los Angeles. He was 82 years old at the time of his death, and a member of the Missionary Society of St. Paul the Apostle for 59 years.

The future Father Donovan was born in Levittown, N.Y., on Dec. 31, 1929. After considering the priesthood for quite a while, young Ed Donovan decided to take the plunge and become a priest. He first encountered the Paulist Fathers at Boston’s Paulist Center.

“I liked the work they were doing,” said Father Donovan in an interview celebrating his 50th year of priesthood in 2009, “being involved in the instruction of potential Catholics. [The Paulists] had an openness, and I liked their whole attitude toward the church and the faith.”

Father Donovan made his first promise with the Paulists on Sept. 8, 1953, and was ordained on May 1, 1959.

After his ordination, Father Donovan served a pastoral year at the Paulist Center in Boston, from 1959-60. He then entered campus ministry at West Virginia University in Morgantown from 1960-62 before going to the University Catholic Center at the University of California at Los Angeles from 1962-65. Father Donovan was then called to the mission band based out of St. Paul the Apostle in New York City from 1956-67 before returning to Boston, still serving in the mission apostolate from 1967-68. He returned to campus ministry at the University of California at San Diego from 1968-75, serving as coordinator from1970-75.

“Those were exciting days to be on campus,” Father Donovan said. “With the Vietnam War, we were protesting mostly every weekend.”

After a leave of absence from 1975-78, Father Donovan was on special assignment in Los Angeles with the United Farm Workers of America from 1978-83, where he ministered to many Hispanic Catholics.

“In Hispanic ministry, I learned about a whole different part of the church, learning their problems and their needs” he said.

One of those desperate needs was decent housing, “especially during harvest time,” said Father Donovan. In response, Father Donovan helped found the Coachella Valley Housing Coalition, which has provided 3,000 houses and apartments for low and very low-income families since it began in 1982.

Father Donovan then moved so San Bernardino, Calif., where he served in the diocesan office of Hispanic affairs from 1983-85 before becoming the archdiocesan regional director of Hispanic affairs based out of Carpinteria, Calif., from 1885-88. Father Donovan served at St. Joseph parish in Carpinteria until 1998, when he entered senior ministry status. He moved to St. Paul the Apostle in Los Angeles in senior ministry status in 2000.