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Sr. Diane Catherine Donoghue


1931 - 2017 Obituary Condolences
Sr. Diane Catherine Donoghue Obituary
February 26, 1931 - February 26, 2017
Sister Diane Donoghue, SSS, passed into eternal life on her birthday, February 26, at 86. Born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, her parents moved Sr. Diane and her brother, John, to L.A. when she was four. Her childhood years were spent attending Cathedral Chapel Parish School and then Immaculate Heart High School.
Sr. Diane majored in Political Science at UCLA, graduating in 1954. As a student leader she was involved with the Panel of the Americas and was chosen to be a part of the Project India group at UCLA, a forerunner to the Peace Corps.
She entered the Sisters of Social Service Community in 1955 and made her final profession in 1964. Her hope was to meld together her passion for social and economic justice with her strong faith, and she found like-minded women dedicated to social work serving those on the margins of society. Her initial ministry work was with the Catholic Youth Organization in L.A., Sacramento and San Francisco. She received MSW in Social Work from UC Berkeley (1969), and worked at Stanford Home in Sacramento (a SSS ministry).
When she returned to L.A., she spent 11 years as the Director of Stella Maris, another SSS ministry. Invested in the promise and dire realities of the families of South Central, Sr. Diane's next work was with St. Vincent Catholic Church as a community organizer. Supporting the potential of this neighborhood became her life's work and focus.
Throughout her career, Sr. Diane became known as a bridge-builder, a fiercely loyal advocate for those struggling to survive, and a ""dynamo"" who could converse with anyone, no matter what side of an issue the person was on or what their background was. She sought to affirm the power and leadership skills within the people she had the privilege of working with and for, and mentored many over the years.
In 1989, as the Figueroa Corridor faced an impending housing crisis due to gentrification, Sr. Diane responded to the needs of her friends and colleagues in South Central by founding Esperanza Community Housing Corporation. Esperanza, meaning hope in Spanish, began with the building of the Villa Esperanza Apartments. Esperanza created 8 more housing developments nearby, offering programs and support services to address issues central to residents' lives. Sr. Diane was also instrumental in securing funding and laying the groundwork for USC's Head Start Program, which expanded services available for those living in South Central LA. Along with Esperanza's housing and social services, another project came into being in 1999 that Sr. Diane helped champion – Mercado de Paloma. The Mercado was designed to provide an economic opportunity for first-time family owned businesses, as well as celebrating the rich and diverse culture of Los Angeles.
Her reverence for and interest in people from many different cultures, religions and languages has been woven into the fabric of so many of Sr. Diane's ministries and friendships - and many of her closest friends are Jewish, Muslim and other religions. She was involved in many interfaith community groups including the Muslim and Catholic Women in Conversation at Holy Spirit Retreat Center.
Sr. Diane served in many leadership roles – both outside of and within the SSS Community, including the Figueroa Corridor Coalition for Economic Justice, mayoral commissions, and the Federal Reserve Bank. She was on the SSS Council and served on many committees. She was involved with critical issues like mending the wage ""gap,"" pressing for immigration reform, working on social justice and economic development issues, visiting immigrants facing deportation in Adelanto, and ongoing interfaith dialogues.
Sr. Diane was delighted to use her decades of community organizing experiences and work with the people of L.A. by participating in several Nuns on the Bus tours in the past few years, traveling across country to bring awareness to vital social justice issues impacting those living in poverty. Sr. Diane received many accolades for her work including: an honorary doctorate from Occidental College, UCLA's Alumni Association Community Service Award, the National "Courage in Community" Award from the McAuley Institute, the Bishop Carl Fisher Empowerment Award and UCLA's Alumnus of the Year Award.
A visionary, a mentor to so many who crossed her path, and an unabashed progressive - her open arms, sparkling warmth and engaging wit will be sorely missed by all who knew her. She is survived by her brother, John, and sister-in-law, Margie, and their children: Mary Kaye, James, Mark, Janae, Jean, Marna and Patricia. Sr. Diane loved sharing time with her family including John and Margie's 20 grandchildren and 27 great-grandchildren. In addition, her friends from UCLA, Esperanza, the Red Hat Society and members of the Social Service Auxiliary will mourn the loss of her lively personality and loyal friendship.
A vigil to remember Sr. Diane will be held at 7:30 p.m. on Monday, March 6, and a Mass on Tuesday, March 7 at 10 a.m. Both services will be held at the Holy Spirit Retreat Center (address below). Donations in memory of Sr. Diane can be sent to Sisters of Social Service, 4316 Lanai Road, Encino, CA 91436. Please carpool, as parking is limited.
Published in the Los Angeles Times from Mar. 4 to Mar. 5, 2017
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