MILWAUKEE — For alumni of Don Bosco High School, it was an opportunity to reflect, catch up and hear from one of the school’s more influential leaders.
While Don Bosco has long since been in the history books – the school merged with Pio Nono in 1972 – Marianist Fr. Paul J. Donoghue, a nationally recognized author, speaker and psychologist, met with former students at the school that succeeded both institutions, St. Thomas More High School, during his return to Milwaukee Nov. 6.
As Br. Donoghue, he served in a variety of roles at Don Bosco from 1959 to 1964. He taught theology, English, Latin and also served as a guidance counselor. After Don Bosco, he undertook theological studies and was ordained a priest in 1968.
Jeff Poniewaz, a Don Bosco graduate, helped spearhead the effort to bring Fr. Donoghue from his residence in Connecticut to Milwaukee for the evening. Poniewaz said the evening was designed to pay tribute to someone who had a profound impact on the student body and has made numerous positive contributions since leaving Milwaukee.
“He mentored us over 40 years ago,” Poniewaz noted.
During his talk, Fr. Donoghue reflected on his time at Don Bosco and linked those early experiences to the milestones that have transpired in the four decades since.
“You men changed my life,” Fr. Donoghue said. “My years with you were incredible years of my life. I learned from you how to love, and love with care.”
The bulk of Fr. Donoghue’s talk revolved around the many facets of love – including the importance of loving one’s self. While doing religious studies in Europe, Fr. Donoghue said he struggled with doubt and shied away from writing because of a critical comment he took to heart. He did not pen his first book, “Sick and Tired of Feeling Sick and Tired,” until 1992 with collaboration by co-author and fellow psychologist Mary E. Siegel.
“We tend to brush aside all that is loving and take in what is critical,” Fr. Donoghue said. “I’ve learned that painfully.”
“Sick and Tired” delves into the challenges of living with a chronic illness and how so-called self talk is of the utmost importance.
“We are all going to suffer, but it’s what we do with it,” said Fr. Donoghue, who holds a doctorate in psychology from St. Louis University. “How do we cope with adversity? The way to cope with it is to know ourselves and call on all of our resources.”
Worry, Fr. Donoghue said, is one of the most destructive behavioral patterns for a person. During his talk, he drew upon the teachings of St. Luke to demonstrate how virtuous a worry-free lifestyle is.
“God knows us and knows what we are going through,” Fr. Donoghue said. “We are loved totally by God. He is drawing on us, one day at a time, through the valleys of darkness. There is no need to shortchange ourselves.”
Fr. Donoghue and Siegel recently completed “We Really Need to Talk.” Released in October, the book chronicles the importance of communication. The two also co-authored, “Are You Really Listening?” in 2005.
Additionally, Fr. Donoghue self-penned, “The Jesus Advantage,” released in 2001. He said the book looks into the life of Jesus from a psychologist’s point of view.
“(Jesus) drank in God’s love, pouring it out to people all around him,” Fr. Donoghue said. “Jesus was absolutely true to himself and never tried to live up to others’ expectations of him. He believed the father loved him.”