Brother Jerome David Donnelly was born on September 12, 1945 in Philadelphia, PA. He was the youngest of four children born to John Donnelly and Anna Rubin both of whom were factory workers. His brother was named John (Jack), and his sisters were Joanne and Joan. Jerome was the fourth "J."
Jerome was baptized at Ascension Parish in Philadelphia. His family later moved across the Delaware River and settled in Williamstown, NJ. The Donnelly's were active members and supporters of St. Mary's Parish and School. Jerome's mother, even though not Catholic, made sure that the Donnelly children knew their catechism and attended and participated in the various activities, novenas and liturgical celebrations at the parish church and school. When his mother passed away, the pastor insisted that the funeral take place at the parish.
Jerome traveled to St. Joseph High School in Camden where he was taught by the Felician Sisters. His senior religion class was assigned a project where the students had to write to various religious communities requesting vocation literature. For some reason, Jerome chose Holy Cross. He read the literature for his report and was intrigued. He wrote his report and did well and thought he had completed his assignment. For some reason, though, the mailings from the Vocation Director - Brother Hyacinth, I believe - never stopped! In spite of several requests to the Vocation Director, it seemed that there was no way to get off the mailing list! And the rest, as they say, is history. Whoever that Felician Sister was, she proved to be a pretty astute vocation recruiter!
Jerome was received into the Congregation of Holy Cross on August 22, 1964 at St. Joseph Novitiate in Valatie, NY. On August 23, 1965, he pronounced his vows for the first time. Along with other members of his novitiate class, he was assigned to Vincent Hall on the campus of St. Edward's University for his studies. He remained at St. Ed's until 1968, when he was assigned to teach at Bishop McNamara High School, even though he had not completed his degree. He remained there for several months and then was assigned to Notre Dame High School in West Haven, CT for the 1968-1969 academic year. On the obedience list for the fall of 1969, he was assigned back to St. Edward's to finish his degree in Business Administration.
Upon receiving his degree, Jerome returned to Notre Dame High School in West Haven in 1970 where he remained until 1976. He taught religion and began the first campus ministry program which was an idea still in its beginning stages. At this time, he spent summers at St. Mary's College in Winona, MN studying for a Master's degree in Religious Education. Jerome was also involved with the retreat program for high school students in the Archdiocese of Hartford. In 1979, he was assigned to St. Joseph Center in Valatie, NY where he developed Youth retreats and programs. He was also the Administrator of the Center and remained there until 1982.
In 1982, he began studies for a Master's degree in family counseling at the State University of New York in Oneonta which he completed in 1984.
In 1984, he was assigned to the Notre Dame International School in Rome where he served as a dormitory prefect, counselor and teacher of Religion. He took full advantage of his European stay and had quite a few adventures with other members of the community. From 1987 to 1992, he served as a counselor at Notre Dame High School in Sherman Oaks, CA. In 1992, he was appointed the President of Holy Cross High School in Waterbury, CT where he served for fifteen years. He was proudest of the new art rooms, gallery and digital classrooms he was able to construct. Jerome's common and practical sense as well as his intelligence led him to being elected or appointed to serve on the Provincial Council many times.
Following his tenure in Connecticut, he served as the Director of the Brother Charles Andersen residence in San Antonio, TX and as a Counselor at Holy Cross of San Antonio. He also served as the Director of Student Success and Retention at King's College in Wilkes-Barre, PA.
In 2013, he was confronted with some challenges to his health and moved to St. Joseph Center in Valatie, NY.
Jerome's gift was his ability to engage people and to help them discover their gifts and their needs. His personality, quick wit and sense of humor made him a favorite of many. He was funny and clever, knew how to tell a good story, and brought laughter to others. He could entertain and regale with his adventures, often with a good poke of fun at himself. His community, his students, his friends loved to spend time in his presence. His skill as a listener made him an effective counselor and adviser. He had the uncanny ability to ask the "right" question which would unlock that place of pain or confusion for the other and he would then help that person find comfort, solace and understanding. He was wise and practical and good. He could be demanding, with high standards and a keen eye for detail. He was not pious, but he was a man of faith and belief. He cared greatly for others and always sought the good for them and in them.
All in all, Jerome was a good and faithful friend and brother. Our lives will be quieter and with a little less laughter now. He will be missed by many.
There will be a Wake Service on Friday, September 20, 2019 at 7:15 PM at St. Joseph Center, 495 Maple Lane in Valatie, NY. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated on Saturday, September 21, 2019 at 11:00 AM in the chapel of St. Joseph Center. Burial will follow in the community cemetery.
Those attending the funeral are invited to stay for lunch. Please inform Sue Henderson at email@example.com if you will be joining us for lunch.
Our Brother Jerome now rests in peace in our God's loving embrace!
Ave Crux, Spes Unica.
Bro. Thomas A. Dziekan, CSC
Congregation of Holy Cross, Moreau Province