Deacon Joe Donadieu was ‘epitome of a graced individual’

May 17, 2024 at 5:30 p.m.
Deacon Joe Donadieu's two sons, grandchildren and other family members carry his casket from Sacred Heart Church following his May 13 Mass of Christian Burial. Joe Moore photo
Deacon Joe Donadieu's two sons, grandchildren and other family members carry his casket from Sacred Heart Church following his May 13 Mass of Christian Burial. Joe Moore photo

By MARY STADNYK
Associate Editor

Deacon Joseph M. Donadieu was remembered as a man who “brought Jesus to people just by being himself.”

“Joe in many ways was the epitome of a graced individual – to his family, in his work, in his ministry and even in his illnesses,” Father Charles Schwartz said during Deacon Donadieu’s May 13 Mass of Christian Burial in Sacred Heart Church, Riverton, where Deacon Donadieu served his diaconal ministry since 1993.

"The grace of God which is poured down on all of us every day, every minute was his support and his strength,” Father Schwartz said.

Deacon Donadieu

 Deacon Donadieu, who had served as editor of The Monitor from 1978 to 2008 and a permanent deacon since 1984, died May 8 in Virtua Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, Camden. His death occurred four days before he was to mark the 40th anniversary of his ordination as a deacon on May 12.

Father Schwartz, pastor of Sacred Heart Parish, was principal celebrant of the funeral Mass and homilist. He was joined by priest concelebrants including Msgr. Thomas Mullelly, diocesan vicar for clergy and consecrated life. Deacons assigned to Sacred Heart Parish assisted at the altar while others from throughout the Diocese were in the congregation.

Decades of Ministry

Deacon Donadieu was born in 1943 in Philadelphia. He held a bachelor’s degree in political science from La Salle University, Philadelphia, and a master’s degree in political science from Duquesne University, Pittsburgh. He pursued doctoral studies in Government and Western European Studies at the University of Notre Dame, South Bend, Ind., and further graduate studies in theology at La Salle University.

Ordained in 1984 by Bishop John C. Reiss in St. Mary of the Assumption Cathedral, Trenton, Deacon Donadieu served his diaconal ministry from 1984 to 1992 in St. Joseph Parish, Beverly, and since 1993 had served in Sacred Heart Parish.

During his 30-year tenure as editor of The Monitor, Deacon Donadieu also served for 10 years as diocesan director of communications. Following his retirement from The Monitor in 2008, he continued to work as assistant director in the diocesan Office of the Diaconate.

Other ministries he was involved in over the years included Cursillo, the men's group in Sacred Heart Parish and working with the mission appeals to benefit East India.

Evangelization at its finest

Whether they were family members, brother deacons, fellow parishioners or diocesan colleagues, a common thread shared by many was Deacon Donadieu’s love for teaching and learning.

While growing up, Mitchell and Ruth Donadieu acknowledged learning a lot about the Catholic faith from their grandfather. Ruth added that his homilies reflected his knack for “turning his passion for the Lord into beautiful stories he shared.

“His writing was captivating, inspiring and deliberate, an extraordinary ability to communicate his devotion to the Lord,” she said.

Former Monitor business manager and member of Visitation Parish, Brick, Richard C. Haas enjoyed looking back on Deacon Donadieu’s coverage of Pope John Paul II’s U.S. visit to several southern states in 1987. Haas explained that a few secular daily newspapers within the four-county diocese arranged to publish Deacon Donadieu’s articles on the historic visit. One publication even provided a laptop with instructions on filing articles from a remote location, Haas explained.

“This was before the Internet and wireless networks; Joe mastered the technology and was able to file throughout the trip,” Haas recalled. “Seeing Joe’s byline in the daily newspapers created a lot of excitement, especially among The Monitor staff,” Haas said.

He acknowledged that many memories have surfaced about “this collaboration with my friend, colleague and listening post – Joe Donadieu.”

In his first few years as executive director of the New Jersey Catholic Conference, Deacon Patrick Brannigan had an opportunity to work with Deacon Donadieu as the editor of The Monitor. Deacon Brannigan valued Deacon Donadieu’s communications expertise, especially when addressing challenging issues. Deacon Brannigan said, “Joe was not only a student of theology and Church teaching, but he was a student and scholar of government, polity and society. He understood people as they journeyed - be their journey through the Church, government or ordinary life.”

The two men also interacted when Deacon Brannigan was pursuing diaconal studies and Deacon Donadieu was working in the Office of the Diaconate.

“He was a good man and mentor to many,” Deacon Brannigan said.

Rayanne Bennett, executive director of Communications and Media and associate publisher of The Monitor, posted a reflection about Deacon Donadieu upon learning of his passing, expressing her “esteem and gratitude for the foundations he established with the Diocese’s communications ministry.”

She said, “Though it has been more than 15 years since Joe retired from his long-standing post as the executive of The Monitor newspaper, we cannot fail to acknowledge the undeniable influence that his service has had on diocesan communications and the many ways he helped to shape what they have become today.” Click HERE for full statement.

Lois Rogers, retired features editor of The Monitor, recalled first meeting Deacon Donadieu while working as a reporter for the Asbury Park Press where she wrote many stories about religion in general.

“He was a great source of knowledge about Catholicism and someone to count on to check stories for accuracy and that stories would go to print error-free on faith,” she said.

When Rogers came on board as a Monitor staffer, she said she found her colleague to be “generous with his insights and someone who contributed much to my knowledge about Catholicism.”

Rogers added that one memory she will always treasure was June 18, 1995, the day Mother Teresa visited the Diocese and attended Mass in St. Mary of the Assumption Cathedral, Trenton. “I was with the Asbury Park Press at the time and Joe was overseeing all the news media,” she said. “Joe helped us with our coverage by keeping things in order and very reverent.”


Father Charles Schwartz, pastor of Sacred Heart Parish, blesses the casket of Deacon Joe Donadieu at the start of the May 13 Mass of Christian Burial. Joe Moore photo 

 Over the years, Sacred Heart parishioner Tom Ehrhardt came to know Deacon Donadieu through Mass and the men’s group as well as when he visited the Donadieus at home and brought them Holy Communion.

When Ehrhardt told Deacon Donadieu that he was discerning a vocation as a deacon, he said that “Deacon Joe took this news with such gladness.

“I think it cheered him to hear that others might walk in the giant footsteps he had laid down and continue in service,” Ehrhardt said.

Till we meet again 

In remarks after Holy Communion and before leading the Final Commendation, Msgr. Mullelly recalled working closely with Deacon Donadieu in the Office of Clergy and Consecrated Life.

“Joe was a gift from God. He was a man who was gifted with great intelligence. He was a friend of Jesus,” Msgr. Mullelly said.

“Joe is now among the Communion of Saints,” Msgr. Mullelly said.

“He is now face to face with our Lord in the fullness of peace and joy. And we look forward to one day seeing him again in God’s heavenly kingdom.”

In addition to his two grandchildren, Deacon Donadieu is survived by his wife of 57 years, Phyllis; two sons, Marc (and his wife, Lesley) and John; five siblings, including John Donadieu, who currently works in the Chancery with the Office of Administrative Services, and numerous nieces, nephews, grandnieces and grandnephews.

Memorial contributions may be made to Catholic Charities, Diocese of Trenton at catholiccharitiestrenton.org.


 



Related Stories

Deacon Joseph M. Donadieu was remembered as a man who “brought Jesus to people just by being himself.”

“Joe in many ways was the epitome of a graced individual – to his family, in his work, in his ministry and even in his illnesses,” Father Charles Schwartz said during Deacon Donadieu’s May 13 Mass of Christian Burial in Sacred Heart Church, Riverton, where Deacon Donadieu served his diaconal ministry since 1993.

"The grace of God which is poured down on all of us every day, every minute was his support and his strength,” Father Schwartz said.

Deacon Donadieu

 Deacon Donadieu, who had served as editor of The Monitor from 1978 to 2008 and a permanent deacon since 1984, died May 8 in Virtua Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, Camden. His death occurred four days before he was to mark the 40th anniversary of his ordination as a deacon on May 12.

Father Schwartz, pastor of Sacred Heart Parish, was principal celebrant of the funeral Mass and homilist. He was joined by priest concelebrants including Msgr. Thomas Mullelly, diocesan vicar for clergy and consecrated life. Deacons assigned to Sacred Heart Parish assisted at the altar while others from throughout the Diocese were in the congregation.

Decades of Ministry

Deacon Donadieu was born in 1943 in Philadelphia. He held a bachelor’s degree in political science from La Salle University, Philadelphia, and a master’s degree in political science from Duquesne University, Pittsburgh. He pursued doctoral studies in Government and Western European Studies at the University of Notre Dame, South Bend, Ind., and further graduate studies in theology at La Salle University.

Ordained in 1984 by Bishop John C. Reiss in St. Mary of the Assumption Cathedral, Trenton, Deacon Donadieu served his diaconal ministry from 1984 to 1992 in St. Joseph Parish, Beverly, and since 1993 had served in Sacred Heart Parish.

During his 30-year tenure as editor of The Monitor, Deacon Donadieu also served for 10 years as diocesan director of communications. Following his retirement from The Monitor in 2008, he continued to work as assistant director in the diocesan Office of the Diaconate.

Other ministries he was involved in over the years included Cursillo, the men's group in Sacred Heart Parish and working with the mission appeals to benefit East India.

Evangelization at its finest

Whether they were family members, brother deacons, fellow parishioners or diocesan colleagues, a common thread shared by many was Deacon Donadieu’s love for teaching and learning.

While growing up, Mitchell and Ruth Donadieu acknowledged learning a lot about the Catholic faith from their grandfather. Ruth added that his homilies reflected his knack for “turning his passion for the Lord into beautiful stories he shared.

“His writing was captivating, inspiring and deliberate, an extraordinary ability to communicate his devotion to the Lord,” she said.

Former Monitor business manager and member of Visitation Parish, Brick, Richard C. Haas enjoyed looking back on Deacon Donadieu’s coverage of Pope John Paul II’s U.S. visit to several southern states in 1987. Haas explained that a few secular daily newspapers within the four-county diocese arranged to publish Deacon Donadieu’s articles on the historic visit. One publication even provided a laptop with instructions on filing articles from a remote location, Haas explained.

“This was before the Internet and wireless networks; Joe mastered the technology and was able to file throughout the trip,” Haas recalled. “Seeing Joe’s byline in the daily newspapers created a lot of excitement, especially among The Monitor staff,” Haas said.

He acknowledged that many memories have surfaced about “this collaboration with my friend, colleague and listening post – Joe Donadieu.”

In his first few years as executive director of the New Jersey Catholic Conference, Deacon Patrick Brannigan had an opportunity to work with Deacon Donadieu as the editor of The Monitor. Deacon Brannigan valued Deacon Donadieu’s communications expertise, especially when addressing challenging issues. Deacon Brannigan said, “Joe was not only a student of theology and Church teaching, but he was a student and scholar of government, polity and society. He understood people as they journeyed - be their journey through the Church, government or ordinary life.”

The two men also interacted when Deacon Brannigan was pursuing diaconal studies and Deacon Donadieu was working in the Office of the Diaconate.

“He was a good man and mentor to many,” Deacon Brannigan said.

Rayanne Bennett, executive director of Communications and Media and associate publisher of The Monitor, posted a reflection about Deacon Donadieu upon learning of his passing, expressing her “esteem and gratitude for the foundations he established with the Diocese’s communications ministry.”

She said, “Though it has been more than 15 years since Joe retired from his long-standing post as the executive of The Monitor newspaper, we cannot fail to acknowledge the undeniable influence that his service has had on diocesan communications and the many ways he helped to shape what they have become today.” Click HERE for full statement.

Lois Rogers, retired features editor of The Monitor, recalled first meeting Deacon Donadieu while working as a reporter for the Asbury Park Press where she wrote many stories about religion in general.

“He was a great source of knowledge about Catholicism and someone to count on to check stories for accuracy and that stories would go to print error-free on faith,” she said.

When Rogers came on board as a Monitor staffer, she said she found her colleague to be “generous with his insights and someone who contributed much to my knowledge about Catholicism.”

Rogers added that one memory she will always treasure was June 18, 1995, the day Mother Teresa visited the Diocese and attended Mass in St. Mary of the Assumption Cathedral, Trenton. “I was with the Asbury Park Press at the time and Joe was overseeing all the news media,” she said. “Joe helped us with our coverage by keeping things in order and very reverent.”


Father Charles Schwartz, pastor of Sacred Heart Parish, blesses the casket of Deacon Joe Donadieu at the start of the May 13 Mass of Christian Burial. Joe Moore photo 

 Over the years, Sacred Heart parishioner Tom Ehrhardt came to know Deacon Donadieu through Mass and the men’s group as well as when he visited the Donadieus at home and brought them Holy Communion.

When Ehrhardt told Deacon Donadieu that he was discerning a vocation as a deacon, he said that “Deacon Joe took this news with such gladness.

“I think it cheered him to hear that others might walk in the giant footsteps he had laid down and continue in service,” Ehrhardt said.

Till we meet again 

In remarks after Holy Communion and before leading the Final Commendation, Msgr. Mullelly recalled working closely with Deacon Donadieu in the Office of Clergy and Consecrated Life.

“Joe was a gift from God. He was a man who was gifted with great intelligence. He was a friend of Jesus,” Msgr. Mullelly said.

“Joe is now among the Communion of Saints,” Msgr. Mullelly said.

“He is now face to face with our Lord in the fullness of peace and joy. And we look forward to one day seeing him again in God’s heavenly kingdom.”

In addition to his two grandchildren, Deacon Donadieu is survived by his wife of 57 years, Phyllis; two sons, Marc (and his wife, Lesley) and John; five siblings, including John Donadieu, who currently works in the Chancery with the Office of Administrative Services, and numerous nieces, nephews, grandnieces and grandnephews.

Memorial contributions may be made to Catholic Charities, Diocese of Trenton at catholiccharitiestrenton.org.


 


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