Death of our Founder

We share with you today the very sad news of the death of our founder, Sister Donna Kustusch. She died on July 21st as the result of injuries sustained in a car accident in Chicago where she had been living since leaving El Paso. Below you can read her official obituary:

ADRIAN, MICHIGAN—July 21, 2013—Sister Donna Kustusch, formerly known as Sister Francis Bernadette Kustusch, died on July 21, 2013, at St. Joseph Medical Center in Joliet, Illinois. She was 75 years of age and in the 56th year of her religious profession in the Adrian Dominican Congregation.

 Sister Donna was born in Chicago, Illinois, to August and Helen (Gaynor) Kustusch. She graduated from Aquinas High School in Chicago, Illinois, and received a bachelor of philosophy degree in history from Siena Heights College (Universityin Adrian, Michigan, a master of arts degree in religious education from St. Louis University in St. Louis, Missouri, a master of arts degree in theology from Catholic University in Washington, DC, and a doctor of ministry degree in theology from Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, California.

 Sister spent 45 years ministering in education in Tecumseh, Adrian and Lansing, Michigan; Harvey, Illinois; Casa Grande and Flagstaff, Arizona; Santa Cruz, California; El Paso, Texas, and Juarez Chihuahua, Mexico. She was a teacher for 15 years at Siena Heights College (University), a congregation institution. Sister was the program coordinator for three years at Centro Mujeres/Tepeyac Theological Institute, in El Paso, Texas. She also ministered for 14 years in Women’s Empowerment and Adult Education in Juarez Chihuahua, Mexico.

 Sister Donna is survived by 2 sisters: Karen Weber of Palos Heights, and Kathleen Quinn of Shorewood, both in Illinois.

 For us at Centro Santa Catalina there is so much left unsaid in the above words. Sister Donna came to Colonia Panfilo Natera simply to accompany the local women and to learn from them. From that small desire (and without even being able to speak Spanish) grew the dream that became Centro Santa Catalina. Urged on by the needs of the women and their commitment to work and pray together to achieve a better life for themselves Sister Donna guided the development of the Center into what it is today. 

Chelito Aranda, one of the original members of the sewing cooperative, remembers the day the women told Sister Donna that they needed a room to call their own. Up to that point they had been using space in the local chapel. Donna said, "How are we going to get that?" Chelito said, "You are going to find people in the US who will give us money and we are going to put our labor into the project." They got their room...and so much more.

Donna, we find it hard to imagine you "resting" but we pray that you are enjoying the fullness of life and peace with our gracious God. You will always be remembered among us at Centro Santa Catalina.