Living the Faith: Dorothy McDonnell

WATERTOWN -- In 1893, Dorothy McDonnell’s grandparents were among the original group of Catholics who approached Archbishop John Williams to ask that a church be established on the Cambridge/Watertown line.

Their request was granted and the McDonnell family has been active in the parish ever since.

“Our parish is built on the backs of a lot of loyal people who have worked really hard to make it what it is today,” McDonnell said.

Never married, with no children of her own, McDonnell and her four sisters were raised to believe that faith was the most important thing in their lives.

“We were always taught to value our faith,” she said.

“I don’t view my faith as a big flowery thing. I’m not a ‘God love you’ kind of person,” she said. “But I try to live my life like my mother and father taught me -- with faith.”

Today, McDonnell is an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion, the parish sacristan, a member of the committee that oversees the annual parish bazaar, and the chairperson of the St. Vincent de Paul society. She also is a member of both the parish pastoral council and the finance committee.

“It’s a pretty involved parish,” she explained. “And I do my share of work to keep it going.”

One of the ways McDonnell stays involved in the parish is through visiting the elderly and the homebound and bringing the Eucharist to them.

“Father always sends us out in pairs, and we go and visit with the homebound. They enjoy it and we also have come to enjoy meeting with these people,” she explained.

McDonnell praised her pastor, Father Joseph Curran, noting that he is “always present.”

“There’s a great camaraderie between Father Curran and the parishioners, which makes for a very happy group of people,” she said. “He has great support for what we are doing in the parish.”

According to McDonnell, Sacred Heart has had its share of difficulties in the past. Most recently, the parish was slated to be closed during reconfiguration.

“When we received the dreadful news that Sacred Heart would be suppressed, it galvanized the parishioners,” she stated.

Parishioners wrote letters to then-Archbishop Seán P. O’Malley, asking him to reconsider. Some even wrote to the Vatican, she said, adding that “everything was done in a very respectful manner.”

“What I believe really helped our cause was our weekly novena to Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal,” she added.

The decision was rescinded and the parish celebrated its 115th Anniversary last year.

“A simple lesson was learned -- never underestimate the power of prayer,” she said.

Sacred Heart Parish, Watertown

Year established -- 1893

Pastor -- Father Joseph L. Curran

In residence -- Father John Stagnaro, Father Richard Curran

Pastoral Associate -- Sister Mary Claire Kirkpatrick, OP

Religious Education Director -- Judy Gilreath

Music Director -- Patrice Buckley