A Charity Presence
Interview by Donata Glassmeyer, Associate
S. Suzanne Donovan ministers in the Diocese of Wilmington, Delaware, as director of human resources and safe environment coordinator. Her service in the Diocese is inspirational. In her own words:
Delaware is a historical and beautiful state just 30 minutes from Philadelphia, Pa., and about two hours from New York City, N.Y., and Washington, D.C., with the added beauty of our wonderful beach community. The historic context of both the geographic realities and the Church history here is rich. I have served as the director of human resources and safe environment coordinator in the Diocese of Wilmington since 1999.
As director of human resources, my responsibilities include recruitment, hiring, placement, credentialing, training, payroll, administration of benefits and the development and monitoring of personnel, administrative policies and procedures as well as mission integration. The office resources six diocesan departments, 57 parishes, 18 missions and 30 schools in two states. We are unique in that our Diocese encompasses the entire state of Delaware and the nine counties on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. I am fortunate to have two incredibly talented and dedicated women on my staff whose gifts amaze me each day.
As coordinator of safe environment, my responsibilities include the implementation of “For the Sake of God’s Children,” our diocesan response to the Charter for the protection of young people.
I first came to Delaware as a consultant in the late 1980s, working on pastoral planning and the reorganization of diocesan services. My work expanded and continued, and in the late 1990s, I was offered a staff position. Having by then spent about 20 years as a consultant traveling extensively I was more than eager to settle down with a mission and ministry I really loved. The transition was graced and the staff here was and continues to be exceptional people deeply committed to the work of the Gospel.
What I most love about this job is the ability to problem solve, to resource others in solving problems at the local level, to create options that ease a path forward. It is a true gift of my ministry to work in a church environment that accepts, respects and includes the various gifts of the people of God in their various ministries.
Without question, the greatest challenge of these years has been the sexual abuse litigation, the resultant bankruptcy and the loss of staff. What I learned and carry with me each day is that in spite of obstacles the work of God continues, the life of grace sustains us, the hope that is of the Spirit leads us through the darkest of days. As we move into our new reality as a local church the challenge is to never forget the many people whose lives were significantly changed by this experience, the victims, their families, our church and our staff.
I am the first and only Sister of Charity of Cincinnati to serve this Diocese. With the closeness of the Convent Station Charities, our charism is not unfamiliar. It became obvious to me the year of my golden jubilee that the staff had come to some knowledge of both Elizabeth Seton and Margaret George. They prepared a wonderful prayer service/blessing and one of them presented me with an oil painting of Elizabeth which hangs in the hall by the HR offices.
Elizabeth was a conduit for people and resources to come together to accomplish God’s work. Her candid nature, her zeal for the truth and her ability to speak that truth with love are all aspects of her person that I find both compelling and things to which each day I aspire as I endeavor to be a presence of charity and justice in our local church and civic community.