The Life of Jean Donovan in Relation to Christ

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Jean Donovan
On April 10, 1953, Patricia and Raymond Donovan bore a daughter, Jean, who would grow up to serve as one of the most famous female American Missionaries to grace the modern world. Jean was second in birth order to her brother, Michael, who would later inspire her in her divine missionary work. The Donovan family resided in upper middle-class Westport, Connecticut where her father provided a comfortable life as an engineer at Sikorsky Aircraft Division for United Technologies (IRTF). Jean pursued a career in Business Administration and secured employment as a management consultant for an accounting firm in Cleveland after receiving a degree in business administration from Case West Reserve University. With these merits, Jean was on the fast track for success in business (IRTF). Although a serious businesswoman, Jean was often described by friends as “outgoing and exuberant.” Her family described her to be “loving and compassionate” (IRTF). Jean had a magnetic and sympathetic personality. These traits would soon lead her into her fateful journey as a missionary. Aside from working as a successful business woman, Jean spent a majority of her time volunteering at the Cleveland Diocese Youth Ministry. Her focus was to correct the lives of the poverty-stricken and troubled youth. Jean was touched by her work and inspired to do more. The Youth Ministry was also where Jean first heard of her life changing missionary work. The objective: a diocesan mission project in El Salvador. The goal of the mission was to spread the gospel and mend the lives of the poor and broken. From the moment she heard of the incredible opportunity, she knew she was destined to fulfill the task. Jean accredited this feeling to her close relationship with God. “She claimed her decision to be "a gut feeling," and said, "I want to get closer to Him, and that's the only way I think I can"” (IRTF). This gut feeling and close knit relationship with God can be attributed to the various adversities she faced in her life. Earlier in her life, Jean’s beloved brother became ill with Hodgkin’s disease. Jean was incredibly close with her brother, and was deeply affected by his illness. Although he made a full recovery, his dedication in fighting the courageous battle heavily influenced Jean, giving her a more precious outlook on life. Another encounter that forever changed Jean was her abroad study in Ireland. During her study, she was befriended by a priest who introduced Jean to the life of poverty and radical faith found in the slums of Ireland. The people of the slums had nothing to their name, but lived a rich life of faith in the means of living a life dedicated to Jesus Christ. Jean was also influenced by the mission directors. Jean had a close relationship with the main director, Maryknoll Sister Mary Anne O'Donnell, “who described Jean as intelligent, loving and apostolic and believed that, despite (or because of?) her fun-loving, hard-living ways, she had the signs of being a good missioner” (IRTF). The combination of these experiences gave Jean appreciation for her life and reasons to re-evaluate the purpose of living. Jean aspired to change the world, starting in El Salvador. Jean arrived in El Salvador in July 1979. This was a dangerous time for the Church, as Christianity was not easily welcomed in rural El Salvador. Jean’s job was to be the record keeper and coordinator for the mission. She also assisted Dorothy Kazel in food administration to the poor and constructing family education programs for El Salvadorian families. Despite the risk, Jean was heavily touched by her work and was proud to serve the Lord. Likewise, the people were greatly appreciative of Jean. Out of love and gratitude, Jean was nicknamed by the people, “St Jean the Playful.” (Sacred Heart) During her mission, Jean found comfort and strength in Archbishop Oscar Romero. She looked to Romero as a source of worship and an outlet to God. She had deep connection with...
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