A Sister of Mercy for 58 years, Sister Donna entered on September 7, 1963, after seeing the example of sisters who taught her at St. Monica elementary school and Our Lady of Mercy High School, in Detroit, Michigan.
At her reception into the Community on August 16, 1964, Sister Donna received the name Sister Mary Rhoda but later returned to her baptismal name. She professed perpetual vows on August 6, 1971, with the words “Christ Jesus” engraved in her ring.
After graduation from Mercy College of Detroit with a degree in history, Sister Donna taught elementary school at Our Lady of LaSalette (Berkley, Michigan), St. John (Independence, Iowa) and Immaculate Heart of Mary (Detroit), where she eventually began working as a counselor. This transition led her to the University of Michigan where she attained a master’s in social work in 1983. After graduation, Sister Donna ministered as a social worker, psychiatric social worker and/or psychotherapist at St. Joseph Mercy hospital in Pontiac, Michigan, and at counseling practices in the metro Detroit area.
Sister Donna was known for her ability to take charge of a situation, her sense of humor and her easy ability to laugh at herself. One of the sources of her humor was her tendency toward malapropisms. On a quilt made for Sister Donna’s 75th birthday, a friend embroidered these descriptors: “MSW, amazing, friend—and Sister Malaprop.” Sister Donna loved being a psychotherapist. Counseling seemed to be a natural fit for her, said her classmate Sister Karen Dunville, who described Sister Donna as “very relational and sensitive to others’ needs.”