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Woman leaves estate to catholic church

Estate sale set to assist local Catholic diocese
Mary Louise Donnelly, who was at one time director of Religious Education at St. John’s Catholic Church, died in September, and left her entire estate to Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Dallas.
An estate sale to benefit Catholic Charities will be held at her home at 1411 Hillcrest St. It will be Friday and Saturday, Dec. 12-13, from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. and Sunday, Dec. 14, from noon until 4 p.m.
There will be a variety of items for sale, including furniture, Noritake China, Thomas Kinkade paintings and décor. Only cash will be accepted as payment. Donnelly’s home will also be for sale, which is a two-bedroom, two-bath home. The house also has a large fenced-in backyard with a deck.
Donnelly, known to her family as “Mary Lou,” was born in Clear Lake, S.D., to Leo H. Donnelly and Martha Almyra Tollett. She was baptized at St. Mary’s Church in San Antonio. She was the sixth of eight children and the only girl, said Monsignor Mark J. Seitz, the executor of Donnelly’s estate.
According to Seitz, Donnelly was popular in high school, and had many dates to school functions and town activities. She also went to many functions at the officers’ club and hunt lodge in Fort Leavenworth, Kan. Although she had many dates, she didn’t feel she would ever be able to find a husband.
“One evening on returning late from a dance I was saying my night prayers,” Donnelly in an account of her life. “I told Jesus I would never be able to choose a husband – I liked something about each one of the fellows I dated. Jesus told me He would be the only one who could satisfy me, that I had a religious vocation. Many an hour I spent in prayer, arguing about this fact, and going through all the reasons against it. I joined the Sisters of Charity in Xavier, Kan., and greatly enjoyed my decision to lead a religious life.”
She studied under the Sisters in grade school, high school, college and graduate school. Soon she began teaching and found that it came easily to her, Seitz said. She taught first grade for 12 years. She also taught dancing, tumbling and art. Her studies eventually led her to a Masters Degree in religious education.
Donnelly went on to become a grade school principal, and then a diocesan consultant for the elementary schools in the Diocese of Kansas City/St. Joseph, Mo. She also taught education courses at St. Mary College in Missouri, Seitz said.
She soon felt the need for a change of pace, and transferred to the Sisters for Christian Community in northern Virginia. Her focus then changed to teaching adults and doing parish ministry, Seitz said.
Donnelly loved religious life. She told Seitz in an account of her life, “I loved Jesus and greatly enjoyed my work in the Catholic Church. Religious life held many pleasures. I enjoyed praying, studying and the solitude that was part of my nature.”
While in Virginia, Donnelly discovered what would become another great love of her life: genealogical research. She loved to piece together the puzzle of family lines and no set of records was too obscure for her, Seitz said. People began asking her to share her research. Before long, the interest was such that she began to publish her family histories.
Donnelly soon found her community disbanding during a time of great changes in religious communities. Not wanting to lament the past, she quickly obtained a position as Director of Religious Education at St. John’s Catholic Church here in Ennis.
She began the final chapter of her life in Ennis as a single lay woman in 1987. She wanted to move to Texas because most of her relatives lived in Texas, Seitz said.
She used her gifts and experience to benefit the parish community at St. John’s. In 1990, the National Association of Parish Directors recognized this work, Seitz said. A piece about her endeavors appeared in the November/December issue of “Today’s Parish.”
Donnelly retired in 1993, and she saw her retirement as an opportunity to turn her hobby of genealogy into a vocation. She began her genealogy work with new zeal, Seitz said. She published about 30 books on the subject. Her biography has appeared in “American Catholic Who’s Who,” “Personalities of America,” “Kentucky’s Who’s Who in Genealogy,” “Who’s Who in Heraldry and Genealogy,” “Washington 1986” and “Who’s Who in Religion.”
Despite difficulties with her health, Donnelly continued to live life with a joy and enthusiasm. She always had a new book or a revision in the works and she also found time to be one of the most avid readers of the Ennis Public Library. In recent years, she taught Bridge to a loyal following at the library, Seitz said.
Donnelly died Sept. 16 from complications following knee replacement surgery at the age of 81.

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Posted by on Nov 25 2008. Filed under Sports. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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