Hospital Sisters of the Third Order Regular of St. Francis
I was born on July 30, 1924, on a farm near Holy Cross, Kentucky, to Charles and Mary Elizabeth (Fogle) Donahue and was named Elizabeth Mae. I believe that my vocation began to develop when I was a young child and witnessed the Ursuline Sisters in my parish church. I wanted to be like them. God’s invitation for me was certainly there, although I sometimes chose to look the other way as I think most young people do. I eventually decided to listen to God and pursued my vocation. I wrote to several religious communities for information and was drawn to the Hospital Sisters. It has been a most rewarding decision.
I entered this Community on February 2, 1948, and professed my vows on October 4, 1950. While I told myself that I was open to whatever was next, I struggled and was frequently reminded to have faith. Never dreaming of being a nurse, I graduated from St. John's Hospital School of Nursing (Springfield, Illinois) in 1955. Never dreaming of being a pharmacist, I earned a bachelor’s degree in pharmacy from Creighton University (Omaha, Nebraska) in 1959 and served for 10 years as a pharmacist at St. John's Hospital (Springfield, Illinois) and St. Mary's Hospital (Streator, Illinois). And never dreaming of what might happen next, I earned a certificate in formation from the Institute of Religious Formation in 1973 that assisted me in my work in the following years as the Novice and Postulant Directress and Spiritual Direction with retreats. Retreat ministry was so life-giving for me, and since I found the experience meaningful, I wanted to provide a positive experience for the Sisters who would seek that special time away each year to be renewed.
Now, in 2013, I reflect on how far I have come in my life-journey. God’s plan has been made known to me little by little over these past 89 years, and I am grateful. With each step along the path, I have been reminded to trust in God – and trust was something I struggled with. When I faced health issues recently, after being blessed with good health throughout my life, I prayed that God would help me let go so that I would be able to move toward being an instrument for His kingdom. As I faced the loss of loved ones, I found comfort in knowing that if on earth we are members of Christ’s Body, we are connected after death by that same Holy Spirit who dwells within us. The veil separating life and death is very thin, and our prayer passes through to connect us with our loved ones who are in heaven.
There has been a common thread in my life that is beautifully colored. It is woven with profound trust, love, and respect. And I have come to know that it is strong and that it keeps me complete. The thread is faith.