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Having the Heart to Serve

Shannon Hunt, C'19
Graduate Assistant, College of Liberal Arts

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"My journey to Tanzania began a long, long, long time ago," said the Rev. James Donohue, a theology professor at Mount St. Mary's University since 1996. He is midway through a sabbatical year in Tanzania as rector for the Tanzanian seminarians of Congregation of the Resurrection Formation House. Donohue attributes the Mount's mission of serving others as a big factor in pushing him outside his "homebody" comfort zone.

fr.-jim.pngDonohue's first service trip resulted from Professor Diana Rodriguez-Lozano’s perseverance in asking Donohue to participate in her frequeently offered trip to Peru. “It was a fantastic experience,” he said. “It gave me more confidence that I could ‘be myself’ in a different culture.” He was grateful to go on the Peru service trip three more times with Mount students, alumni and friends. This was a new beginning for Donohue and his mission.

As Donohue performs his dutues at the Resurrection Formation House, he is keeping the Mount community updated about his daily adventures through his blog. He hopes the blog will act as a confidence booster to encourage students to reap all the benefits the Mount offers by studying abroad. Donohue believes study abroad trips are a way to learn about different cultures and service to others. In the fall of 2008, Donohue was selected to lead students on a study abroad trip to Prague. He remembers asking himself what he had gotten himself into, but he let go of his fears and misconceptions and took a leap of faith. He realized that he needed to be open to learning about Prague and its rich history. He also discovered that there are many ways to communicate with people who speak a different language and gained a better understanding of the perspective of those who are visiting or relocating to the United States. In addition, Donohue realized that he has the ability to adapt and move within a culture and language different from his own.

The various study abroad and service trips Donohue has taken through the Mount have prepared him for his year-long sabbatical in Tanzania. Furthermore, his religious community, the Congregation of the Resurrection, has provided him with additional relevant experiences. He noted that without these experiences he would not have a strong desire to serve individuals in different cultures.

fr.-jim-3.pngAs rector, Donohue has thrown himself into the Tanzanian culture. On his first night, he was given the traditional robe and walking stick of a Tanzanian shepherd. As he was given the clothing of a shepherd, Donohue led a retreat for the professed seminarians who were preparing to renew their vows. He did so on behalf of the Rev. Paul Voisin, the superior general of Congregation of the Resurrection. Donohue is slowly learning the language and  culture of Tanzania and developing innovative ways to help the people. As he continues to shepherd the newly professed seminarians, he encourages them to have a giving heart. As he ministers in Tanzania, Donohue has been the epitome of a servant of Christ and the Mount’s goodness. “I owe the Mount a great debt for the opportunities it has provided to open my eyes wider to the world and its needs,” Donohue said.

Shannon Hunt, C'19
Graduate Assistant, College of Liberal Arts