The Sisters of Charity Foundation of Cleveland is devoted to sharing the important work taking place by Catholic sisters throughout the nation and are lifting up their voices by sharing Sister Stories. This week we are sharing a profile on Sister Donna Capuano, OSU.
This article was originally published by the Ursuline Sisters of Cleveland.
Sister Donna Capuano described her 62 year-ministry career as “checkered,” reflecting an array of places, positions, titles and roles. But all of the ministries have one thing in common — all are peopleoriented. She has served individuals of all ages and backgrounds, from grade schools students, to adult college students, to the shut-ins of St. Anthony of Padua Parish in Parma.
Sister Donna began her career in education in the late fifties. From 1957 to 1979 she taught mostly junior high students in many different parish schools of the diocese. She has also served on the staff of the Diocesan Education Office, as Director of Continuing Studies at Ursuline College and as an Education Consultant for Ameritech, and worked with women struggling with alcohol and drug addictions at the Hitchcock Center for Women at Cuyahoga Community College.
In the past 20 years she has ministered at the Ursuline Educational Center/Motherhouse as Director of the Sophia Center, Director of the Career Transition Office and as coordinator of the motherhouse community.
Now, at age 80, Sister Donna is enjoying yet another kind of ministry. For the past two years she has been engaged in sharing the gift of her presence. When a representative of Saint Augustine Health Ministries contacted the Ursuline Sisters in search of someone to minister to the shut-ins of Parma St. Anthony of Padua Parish, President Sister Susan Durkin recommended Sister Donna.
Her current ministry visiting the homebound of St. Anthony’s offers no fancy title, no spacious office, and no support staff. But the work is no less important. In fact, the gifts of prayer, concern, compassion and companionship she brings to her work embody what it means to live the gospel. She sits down with her people and offers them Eucharist, a prayer, a smile or a hug. She’ll lend an ear, a hand or shoulder to cry on. Most importantly, she offers her presence. She makes a concerted effort to visit each of her 30 clients at least every other week.
In this new experience Sister Donna has witnessed amazing faith and optimism amid very difficult situations. Her visits may expose the frustration and fear born of disease or sickness, the struggle of pain and the emptiness of isolation, but she is able to share smiles and laughter with these special friends. And with each visit she helps uncover more reasons for hope and gratitude.
Sister Donna is moved by the strength and patience exhibited by the family members of her shut-ins. “I see not only the challenges of the homebound patient, but the burden of their caregivers as well. I recognize their physical and emotional exhaustion and am inspired by the incredible devotion to their loved one.”
Sister Donna doesn’t get down or uneasy when entering the home; in fact, she feels blessed to be there. She finds “joy in bringing a bit of relief or comfort to the person just by being there.” And she doesn’t mind hearing a story she’s heard many times before. “It’s OK,” she says with a smile. “I listen as if it’s the first.”