Sister Donna Jean Thelen

Praise God from whom all blessings flow.

Religious life has been more than I could ever have imagined. My ministries have challenged and gifted me with persons who have truly inspired me. I am deeply grateful for the call to be a Grand Rapids Dominican Sister. I thank family and friends for their support and prayers.

Marilyn Thelen was born in Pewamo, Michigan on August 31, 1932 to Louis and Hilda Thelen. The oldest of eight children, she attended St. Joseph Grade School and Pewamo High School. After working for two years, Marilyn entered Marywood in 1952 and received the name Sister Donna Jean of Our Mother of Perpetual Help. Sister Donna Jean earned a BA in History and an MA in Religious Studies from Aquinas College. She taught in elementary schools in Grand Rapids, Saginaw, Hart, Muskegon, Taylor and Pewamo for 43 years and was Principal for 29 of those years. She enjoyed working with students and now enjoys hearing their success stories.

Since 1997 Sister Donna Jean has ministered as Common Life Coordinator at Aquinata Hall and Marywood Health Center. She feels privileged to serve Sisters whose health and age no longer permit them to do what they once could do.

2022 – 69 Years a Sister

Prayer Ministry

Pray for people suffering from depression.

“Being a good community member means you pitch in and do what needs to be done.”

“I love being a member of a community. There is a lot of give and take… give and take for myself helps me not to become self-centered.”

In ministry with Sister Donna Jean Thelen, OP

Dominican Sisters Celebrate Grandville Avenue Heritage


Mission & Ministry Summer 2021: The Treasure of Time


2019 National SisterStory Project Captures Stories About Sisters by Aquinas College Students


Catholic Sisters Week: Thank You Sisters!