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Sister Donna Markham Receives Honorary Doctorate from Dominican University

June 13, 2016, River Forest, Illinois – Sister Donna Markham, OP, PhD, first woman President and CEO of Catholic Charities USA, received an honorary doctorate from Dominican University, River Forest, Illinois, during the University’s Spring Commencement exercises. Dominican University was founded in 1901 by the Sinsinawa Dominican Sisters.

Sister Donna Markham, left, with Dominican University President Donna M. Carroll. Photo Courtesy of Dominican University 

A certified clinical psychologist, Sister Donna has held leadership positions in mental health agencies: the Behavioral Health Institute for Mercy Health, serving Ohio and Kentucky, and Southdown Institute, based in Ontario, Canada, and offering residential treatment for clergy and religious.

Sister Donna, Prioress of the Adrian Dominican Congregation from 2004 to 2010, received this special recognition “for her strong leadership and efforts to bring dignity, hope, and compassion to the most marginalized members of society.”

Sister Donna, for her part, noted her own sense of humility in receiving the award, especially at the time when the Church’s Year of Mercy coincides with the 800th anniversary of the Order of Preachers, Dominicans. She presented the 2016 graduates with eight words to accompany them into their future.

  • Seek truth: Sister Donna held up the “long line of scholars” in the Dominican tradition who have sought truth to “address the social and moral dilemmas” of their times: from St. Dominic to other Dominican saints; Albert the Great, Thomas Aquinas, and Catherine of Siena. “Regardless of your particular field of expertise, you embody the depth of a Dominican education as you search to find what is true and good and right in bringing about a more compassionate society.”

  • Make peace: Noting the strong pull of divisiveness and enmity in today’s culture, Sister Donna encouraged the graduates to seek reconciliation among all parties and to be “fearless in entering into the space of making peace.” She called on the graduates to make use of the Dominican tradition of disputatio – “engaging educated dialog in the service of establishing relationships, building understanding, and reconciling differences.”

  • Extend mercy: Sister Donna noted that, in this Year of Mercy, Pope Francis calls for a culture of care and compassion. “Many of you may not be directly engaged with the poorest of the poor, but everyone of us stands in need of compassion,” she said. “How we treat one another, how we treat our families and our coworkers and colleagues, how we respond to the homeless fellow living under the Wabash Street bridge – is the measure of our mercy.”

  • Reverence life: Sister Donna challenged the Class of 2016, “inheritors of Dominican education,” to make use of their education, knowledge, writing, and scholarship to address the cries of the poor and to recognize the connection among all beings. “Do not be deaf to the cry of the earth and the cries of the poor. …Stay passionate in advocating on behalf of life in all of its forms.” 

Catholic Charities USA Brings Both Sides of Aisle Together

February 5, 2016, Washington, DC – It seems to be common knowledge in the U.S. these days that the two sides of the Congressional aisle – Democrats and Republicans – will never come together and agree on anything. That was proven false on the evening of February 3, when Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), Speaker of the House; Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Minority Leader, and some 70 Congressional leaders came together with Catholic Charities USA to discuss what can be done to help people who are most in need.

With those present at a planned reception at the Capitol, Sister Donna Markham, OP, PhD, President of Catholic Charities USA (CCUSA), said she took the opportunity to discuss “how we might work together on poverty alleviation, criminal justice, and mental health issues.” She offered the services of Catholic Charities to “be ‘Switzerland’ and invite both sides to address what we might do to help the most vulnerable among us.” She was gratified that everyone in the room spoke together about ways to help those most in need.

Sister Donna, former Prioress of the Adrian Dominican Sisters, is the first female president and CEO of CCUSA. CCUSA is a national network of 164 local agencies that serve their local community through such means as providing shelter for the homeless, feeding the hungry, welcoming refugees, and meeting the needs of the vulnerable population.


 

 

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