Sister Linda Donovan

Current Ministry Location-Chile

Sister Linda entered the Maryknoll Sisters in 1979 after working for two years as an executive secretary and a teacher.  She received her B.A. in Social Work and Education.  In December 1980, as she was preparing to make her First Vows, however, two Maryknoll Sisters, an Ursuline Sister and a lay missioner – the “Four Churchwomen” – were assassinated in El Salvador.  She participated in demonstrations against the injustices in Central America.  She asked herself, “Could I go where there is no hope and live with hope?” She knew of the repressive Chilean regime and the suffering of the poor.  She requested and was assigned to go to Chile.

Sister Linda arrived in Chile in 1981 and by the next year there were public protests against Augusto Pinochet.  These were followed by attacks on poor areas, tear gas and shootings, water cannons.  The Sisters were involved in solidarity work in their parish, going door to door after protests to be sure the people were all right.  For years the oppression was part of their lives.  Sister Linda said, “Being in Chile at that time changed me.  The youth changed me, broadened me in many ways. I’ll always have some commitment to youth.  There’s no way to affect the future except by affecting those that live it.”

After a ministry of mental health group work with young women in Pudahuel in Santiago, she moved to La Bandera.  In her family Sister Linda was surrounded by music and singing.  She taught herself guitar and plays and sings by ear.  She goes nowhere without music, singing, and her guitar.  When she and her guitar arrived in La Bandera, she offered to teach guitar classes and fifty young people showed up with delight.

She coordinated a youth drop-in center, providing workshops to prepare them for jobs, sports, crafts, and theater.  Most of the youth had alcohol and drug problems. She did counseling with both youth and adults, and studied for five years in the Instituto Carlos Casanueva.  In addition, she did her thesis on the role of the counselor in the process of marital conflict and separation.  Her youth ministry grew from the parish level to the deanery to the Zone.

In 1998 she was appointed as the Maryknoll Sisters Personnel Director until 2001, then continued honing her counseling skills and was granted her master’s degree in 2002 from McGregor School of Antioch University in Yellow Springs, Ohio.

Returning to Chile she was asked to begin a new focus, working with the Chilean Conference of Religious.  She directs an international program for formation directors. Several reasons prompted her to accept this challenging and very different work. Paramount were its direct relation to young people and to the future of religious life. She believes young religious will face the challenges of a changing society and many will serve its youth.