November 30, 2017, San Turce, Puerto Rico – Sister Donna Markham, OP, President and CEO of Catholic Charities USA (CCUSA), presented $3 million to help the local relief agency, Caritas, in its efforts to aid people affected by Hurricane Maria. During her visit, she took the opportunity to tour the devastation left by the hurricane.
“The situation is extremely dire,” especially for people who lived in wooden houses, which were destroyed, Sister Donna said. Along with the massive devastation, the ongoing power outage makes it impossible for people to cook.
“We’re trying to provide people with camping stoves, generators, water, and food – anything that will help them to survive.” She also believes that much of CCUSA’s funds will be spent to help find safe housing for the elderly and others who are vulnerable.
Sister Donna explained that, while she had traveled to Puerto Rico alone, case managers, disaster coordinators, and other CCUSA staff were already on the ground. CCUSA is the official disaster relief agency of the U.S. Catholic Church.
CCUSA also worked with other organizations to offer support to the people of Puerto Rico. Home Depot helped with a grant to Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands to assist with rebuilding. The Houston Astros loaned CCUSA an airplane to fly supplies to Puerto Rico. “People have been very generous,” Sister Donna noted.
Sister Donna also hoped to visit the Virgin Islands, which was even harder hit than Puerto Rico. CCUSA has given the relief effort of the Virgin Islands $2 million in donations. In addition, $7 million in donations was given to the relief efforts in Houston and Corpus Christi, Texas, and $6 million for efforts in Florida.
CCUSA has received much public support for its relief efforts, as well as its ongoing efforts to fight poverty and to “serve people in need, with special concern for those who are the poorest and most vulnerable in society,” according to its website. The organization recently received a donation of $1,500 from students at Blessed Sacrament School in Alexandria, Virginia, for relief efforts in Puerto Rico.
CCUSA has also received national recognition from NASDAQ. Charles C. Cornelio, Chair of the CCUSA Board of Trustees, was invited to ring the opening bell on Giving Tuesday, November 28.
November 21, 2017, Chicago – Sister Donna Markham, OP, President and CEO of Catholic Charities USA (CCUSA), was one of two recipients of the Great Preacher Award from the St. Albert the Great (Central) Province of the U.S. Dominican Friars. She and Monsignor Kenneth Velo, Senior Executive of Catholic Collaboration at De Paul University in Chicago, received the award at the Provincial’s Dinner November 4 at Misericordia Heart of Mercy in Chicago.
“This year, the Provincial’s Dinner honors two preachers whose extraordinary ministries and words totally reflect the Gospel of Jesus Christ,” said Father James V. Marchionda, OP, Prior Provincial of St. Albert the Great. “Great Preacher most fittingly describes this year’s gifted and faith-filled recipients.”
A native of Chicago, Sister Donna graduated from Regina Dominican High School, an all-girls school located in Wilmette, Illinois, and founded and sponsored by the Adrian Dominican Sisters. A clinical psychologist, she holds a bachelor’s degree in fine art, philosophy, and English from Siena Heights College (now University) in Adrian, as well as a master’s degree in psychology and a PhD in clinical psychology, both from the University of Detroit.
Sister Donna served as President of Southdown Institute in Toronto, a residential program that offers healing and wholeness to priests and religious facing addictions and other mental health issues. She also offered leadership to the Adrian Dominican Congregation, first on the General Council under Prioress Sister Nadine Foley, OP, from 1986 to 1992 and then as Prioress from 2004 to 2010. She went on to serve as President of the Catholic Health Partners Behavioral Health Institute in Cincinnati, Ohio, and to chair the Catholic Charities USA Board of Trustees.
In 2015, Sister Donna became the first woman to head CCUSA. Through 177 member agencies in 2,600 locations in the U.S. and its territories, CCUSA reaches out to people in need through services in housing; healthcare; employment and job training; immigrant and refugee support; advocacy; and family, children, and senior services; and leadership formation in Catholic identity for all involved in the agency’s work. In addition, CCUSA is the official domestic disaster relief agency of the U.S. Catholic Church, leading to the agency’s involvement in disaster relief for communities affected by recent hurricanes, floods, and fires.
The Provincial’s Dinner supports the formation ministry of the men entering the Dominicans through the Province, including the novitiate in Denver.
Left: Sister Donna Markham, OP, receives the Great Preacher Award from Rev. Louis S. Morrone, OP, Vicar Provincial, left, and the Very Rev. James Marchionda, OP, Prior Provincial. Right: Sister Donna Markham, OP, makes her acceptance address for the Great Preacher Award. Photos Courtesy of the Dominican Province of St. Albert the Great