Thomas Joseph Donlan, was born on September 15, 1917, in Chicago, Illinois, theeldest of the two children of Anne Marie (Sheehan) and Thomas Joseph Donlan.Hegrew up in Oak Park, Illinois, and attended St. Catherine of Siena Grammar Schooland Fenwick High School.Upon graduation from high school he spent two years atProvidence College, Providence, Rhode Island, before deciding to enter the Dominicannovitiate of the Province of St. Joseph.
In August of 1937 he began his novitiate at St. Rose of Lima Priory, Springfield,Kentucky, where he received the religious name of Cajetan.He made his firstprofession there on August 16, 1938, and was assigned to St. Thomas Aquinas Priory,River Forest, Illinois, to begin his philosophical studies.When the new province of St. Albert the Great was formed in December, 1939, he chose to be affiliated with it.Father Donlan made his final profession at St. Thomas Aquinas Priory on August 16,1941, and was ordained there on June 8, 1944, completed his theological studies in1945 and was awarded the S. T. Lr. degree.From 1945 through 1952 he was assigned to Fenwick High School, Oak Park, Illinois,where he served as chair of the Department of Religion.For two years (1946-48) heinterrupted his teaching to pursue graduate studies at the Pontifical Faculty, DominicanHouse of Studies, Washington, D.C., and obtained the doctorate in theology in 1952.For one year he taught theology at Marycrest College, Davenport, Iowa, and thenjoined the Dominican faculty at St. Rose of Lima Priory, Dubuque, Iowa, where he wasprofessor of moral theology (1953-57) and professor of homiletics (1954-60).During1963-64 Father Donlan was a Fulbright Research Scholar in Theology at the InstituteCatholique de Paris, an experience which established lasting ties with France and theFrench Dominicans.He was one of the founders of The Priory Press, serving as vice-president (1953-60) and then as president (1960-65).When The Priory Press moved toChicago in 1964, Father Donlan moved with it, and helped to establish St. LouisBertrand House which served as a publications house for the Province.In 1969 Father Donlan began a nearly fifteen-year period in which he served theChurch nationally and internationally in various capacities.He assisted the UnitedStates Catholic Conference as Director of Research and Development in ReligiousEducation (1969-72) in Washington, D.C.; was editor of the Catholic Digest (1972-75)in Minneapolis, Minnesota; served as Rome Correspondent for the National CatholicNews Service (1975-77) in Rome, Italy; and returned to the United States to serve asOfficer for Public Education, Catholic Relief Services (1977-83) in New York City.From 1983 until early 1997 he resided first at St. Stephen Parish (1977-89) and the atSt.Agnes Parish (1989-97) in New York.During this time he was the Sole U.S. Agentfor the French Dominican publishing house, Les Éditions du Cerf; assisted FatherPatrick Peton, C.S.C., with the Family Rosary Crusade (1983-84), and served aschaplain to the Catholic Actor's Guild of America (1985-96).At the age of 80 hebegan limited service and took up residence at St. Vincent Ferrer Priory, River Forest,Illinois.In addition to these ministries Father Donlan served the Province of St. Albert theGreat as Provincial Director of Education (1964-66) and as a member of theProvincial Council (1969-73).For two years (1967-69) he was chair of specialcommission appointed by the Master of the Order for the Publication of Books in theOrder of Preachers.He was a member of the College Theology Society which heserved as vice president (1955-56), president (1956-68) and director (1958-60).In1986 he was elected to the Fenwick High School Hall of Fame.Father Donlan was stopping in Paris after having spent some time with his nephew inRome when he was unexpectedly taken sick early on the morning of February 26,1999.Having suffered an apparent heart attack, he soon slipped into a coma and diedlater that morning at the American Hospital of Neuilly-sur-Seine, near Paris, withoutregaining consciousness.
After extensive graduate studies, ordination to the Order of Preachers and a doctorate in theology from Catholic University, Fr. Donlan returned to Fenwick to teach theology.
He was the first Catholic priest to be awarded a Fulbright Scholarship.He also served as Executive Editor of the Catholic Digest and Director of Education for the Catholic Relief Service.
ACHIEVEMENTS & AWARDS
FENWICK ALUMNI INFORMATION
Name: Rev. Thomas C. Donlan, O.P.Fenwick Hall of Fame Member
I thank Sister Susan Noffke, O.P., Fr. Thomas Donlan, O.P., for encouraging this project and my Provincial, Fr. Donald Goergen, O. P., and my Prior, Joseph Gillespie, O. P., along with my brothers of St. Louis Bertrand Priory, St. Louis, especially Benjamin Russell, O.P., and also William Conlan, O.P., for reading the manuscript, and the faculty and staff of Aquinas Institute of Theology and PARABLE for supporting its completion.
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