Name: Fr Leo Donovan OP
Order: Dominican (Order of Preachers)
Date of Ordination: July 9, 1967
Portfolio: Parish Priest, Petit Valley
“I am grateful to Trinidad and to the Church in Trinidad.” A sentiment shared by many priests who come into our archdiocese to serve. These same sentiments were shared by Irish-born, Fr Leo Donovan.
As a young boy, Leo loved the members of his very Catholic family. Two members whom he particularly admired were two of his uncles, both of whom were priests serving in Trinidad, one in the 1930s, Fr Aengus Byrnes and one in the 1960s, Fr Anthony Roche.
He also had three cousins who were priests and one cousin who is a nun. It was therefore relatively natural that he would, at a young age, decide to join the Order of Preachers.
After seven years of study for the priesthood, he was ordained in 1967 and went to Rome to study for a license in theology.
In 1968, he followed in the footsteps of his uncles and came to Trinidad to serve as a priest. He arrived a few months after the appointment of a new Archbishop – Anthony Pantin.
His earlier days in the country saw him reading for a degree in West Indian History at the University of the West Indies.
That was a time when mainly Dominicans ran the archdiocese, with 65 Dominican priests serving almost all of the parishes of the archdiocese. He contrasts that with the 13 Dominicans in Trinidad today, seven of whom are Irish and six local.
“But that’s a good thing,” he insists. “That’s a blessing,” since our parishes are now staffed with young, capable Trinbagonian priests.
One part of his journey here in Trinidad that he does appreciate is the 30 years that he has been part of a group which meets weekly with Fr Michel de Verteuil to reflect on the Sunday gospel, lectio divina style. “This enriched my life,” he says, “It taught me about scripture.”
Other than that, most of his time here has been spent working in parishes. He was in Mayaro for six years, Mon Repos for seven years, Curepe for eight years, and Santa Rosa for eight years until he moved to Petit Valley seven years ago.
He does enjoy working in Trinidad. “I believe that the Church in Trinidad is very alive and I hope the Synod process will enrich the Church even more.”
At the age of 68 he lives out his priesthood one day at a time. “I like being a priest,” he says, “I have not regrets”.