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Sister Patricia Donovan, RSM, 1931-2021


Teacher and Civil Rights activist, Sister Patricia Donovan, RSM, died March 26, 2021. Sister Patricia was formerly known as Sister Mary de LaSalle.

Patricia Ann Donovan was born to Francis J. and Ruth (nee Kreiner) Donovan on Nov. 25, 1931. She and her brothers, Thomas and Arthur, were born and raised in Buffalo. They were members of St. Mark Parish and attended Public School #54 in North Buffalo. For Patti, school fostered in her a great love for learning.

Secondary education was completed at Holy Angels Academy. The Grey Nuns of the Sacred Heart laid a firm ground work for higher education. Patti felt that her high school and D’Youville College experiences were a “gold mine of opportunity for becoming well rounded academically, socially and spiritually.” After majoring in English with French and Secondary Education as minors, her teaching career began at Bishop Colton High School in Buffalo. Soon she began working toward a master’s degree in English from Canisius College in Buffalo. In 1958, Bishop Quigley High School in Buffalo needed an English teacher, Patti was hired and introduced to the Sisters of Mercy.

On Sept. 3, 1961, Patti was welcomed by the Mercy Community as a postulant and began the process of formation toward becoming a vowed member. She professed her perpetual vows on June 29, 1964.

Living and teaching in the Perry Projects area in the 1960s led to an active interest in the Civil Rights Movement. Working at St. Brigid Parish and living with those who were economically challenged was a unique ministry experience of mixed cultures including African-Americans, Hispanics and Caucasians. This eventually led to a year of an inculturation experience at St. Jude’s in Montgomery, Alabama. Returning then to be a faculty member of Trocaire College in Buffalo, participant in a special program in San Antonio, Texas, “Ministry to Ministers” and then back to Trocaire.

“Being an active member of a service group known as Quota International and Mercy Action for Justice has led me to work for the poor and marginalized in society,” she said of the experience.

 A funeral Mass will be celebrated March 31, at 9:30 a.m. in St. Martin of Tours in South Buffalo. Burial will follow at Holy Cross Cemetery, Lackawanna.