SisterIrene Mary McDonnell

“I fled Him down the nights and down the days.” -Francis Thompson

My initial call to religious life could best be characterized by these words from Francis Thompson, “I fled Him down the nights and down the days”. As a Junior at SS. Peter and Paul in Saginaw, Michigan, I “felt” God’s soft but insistent invitation to enter religious life. I resisted this idea with prayer…rosaries said on my knees nightly. Guess who won?

As I look back on my 60 years, I marvel at the faith-filled, joyful experiences of my life. From my first ministry in San Juan Pueblo, New Mexico, teaching fifty-five seventh and eighth graders, to my new ministry as Chaplain for the poor in San Francisco, it has been quite a journey. In New Mexico, I taught Spanish and Native American students. Since it was my first year, I should say I TRIED to teach. In San Francisco, I helped serve 3000 meals a day, 365 days a year to those who are poor, which included those who are homeless and addicted to drugs or alcohol. Both situations brought challenges and excitement.

God has graced me during these various opportunities. I am grateful for the many opportunities the Grand Rapids Dominicans have provided. I look forward to new opportunities in the future.

2022 – 63 Years a Sister

Prayer Ministry

Pray for the poor and abused

Sister Irene Mary McDonnell is pictured with Indian Jo, one of 2,500 people who are homeless that will stand in line waiting for a hot meal at St. Anthony’s in the Tenderloin District of San Francisco. Indian Joe daily greets people who pass by. His cart, partially seen here, contains all his possessions.

Sr. Irene Mary seen participating in her volunteer work with Meals on Wheels in Custer, South Dakota.

One of my happiest Marywood memories was learning to be a Spiritual Director. This conference room near the Marywood Chapel was my altar. Here, I gradually witnessed the Holy Spirit’s galvanizing love in the lives of my directees and myself.

In ministry with Sister Irene Mary McDonnell, OP

Dominican Sisters Grand Rapids 2019 Jubilarians


2009 Jubilarians