The Rev. William H. Donahue

The Rev. William Henry Donahue, C.S.C., 91, died Monday, Sept. 30, 2013, at Holy Cross House, Notre Dame, Ind.

The Rev. Donahue was born Aug. 22, 1922, in Philadelphia to John Leo and Mary Drum Donahue. He was the oldest of seven children. He graduated in 1940 from West Philadelphia Catholic High School for Boys.

In September 1940, upon the advice of his aunt, Sister M. Katherine, C.S.C., the Rev. Donahue enrolled in Our Lady of Holy Cross Seminary for the Congregation of Holy Cross in Easton, Mass. Two years later, he entered the Novitiate in North Dartmouth, Mass., and was received into the Congregation on Aug. 15, 1942, professing his First Vows on Aug. 16, 1943. He graduated from the University of Notre Dame in 1945 with a bachelor's in philosophy and made his Final Vows on June 9, 1947. The Rev. Donahue was ordained on June 7, 1949, at the National Shine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C., where he studied theology at Holy Cross College. In the fall of 1949, he took undergraduate courses at King's College (a Holy Cross school in Wilkes-Barre, founded just three years before in 1946) in biology, chemistry and physics in preparation for graduate school. From 1950 to 1953, he attended the Catholic University of America, earning a master's degree and Ph.D. in biology.

The Rev. Donahue was on the faculty in the biology department at King's College from 1953 to 1974. During that time he served King's in a number of roles: vice president, chairman of the biology department, tenured professor, director of athletics, member of the Administrative and Academic councils, College Senate delegate, prefect and counselor in the student residence halls and pre-professional advisor for medical, dental and other health-related fields. During this time, the Rev. Donahue was involved in research over the summers supported by the National Science Foundation. He was also involved in pastoral ministry, serving as chaplain to the Sisters of Christian Charity at St. Ann's Academy from 1960 to 1971 and serving each weekend in the four missions out of Bear Creek in the nearby Pocono Mountains.

From 1974 to 1989, the Rev. Donahue was rector of St. Mary's Cathedral in Austin, Texas, and led the historic restoration of the Cathedral. From 1976 to 1986, he served on the Marriage Tribunal for the Diocese of Austin and was also a diocesan consultor. The Rev. Donahue organized the Catholic Chaplaincy program for one of Austin's largest hospitals, Brackenridge Hospital. As rector for the Cathedral, he also ran the marriage preparation programs.

In 1989, the Rev. Donahue began his service at pastor of Holy Family Parish in Copperas Cove, Texas, where he celebrated his 80th birthday before leaving in 2002. Holy Family was the only Catholic parish in the city of 30,000 adjacent to Fort Hood, one of the Army's largest installations with a population of 40,000. For a number of years, the Rev. Donahue was the only priest in the parish.

In 2002, the Rev. Donahue moved to Christopher Lodge, Cocoa Beach, Fla., and assisted at two local parishes. He moved to Holy Cross House, Notre Dame, Ind., in 2007.

Over the years, the Rev. Donahue also served in positions within the Congregation of Holy Cross. He was on the Boards of Trustees for Stonehill College (1965 to 1973) and St. Edward's University in Austin (1977 to 1982). He served several terms on the Provincial Councils of both the former Eastern Province, of which he was a member, and the former Southern Province, including one term as an assistant provincial.

The Rev. Donahue is survived by his two sisters, Margaret DeLisle, Florida; and Dorothy Creighton, Pennsylvania.

His parents and other four siblings are deceased.

Visitation will be 3:30 to 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at Moreau Seminary, where there will be a wake service at 7:30 p.m. The Funeral Mass will be 3:30 p.m. Thursday in the Basilica of the Sacred Heart at the University of Notre Dame.

Kaniewski Funeral Home is handling the funeral arrangements.

Memorial contributions in support of the mission and ministries of the Congregation of Holy Cross may be made to the United States Province of Priests and Brothers, Office of Development, P.O. Box 765, Notre Dame, IN 46556-0765, or online at

Published in Citizens' Voice on Oct. 1, 2013