Kewanee, IL

Sheila Donovan Visitation's Honorary Giant this year

Mike Berry

One of the highlights of Catholic Schools Week at Visitation Catholic School is the presentation of the Honorary Giant Award, the school’s highest honor.

The 2023 recipient, Sheila Donovan, will be recognized at a special Mass and award ceremony February 3.

Sheila has always been content to work behind the scenes, but she will finally be rewarded for all the work she has done and continues to do for Visitation.

The Honorary Giant Award was established in 2005 and pays tribute to someone who has supported Visitation School and its mission of continuing excellence in education, assisted with the development of Visitation students’ growth as well-rounded individuals, served as a positive role model for the students and who has shown exemplary dedication to the school and its traditions. This is Visitation School’s most prestigious award.

Sheila with her husband Paul and their three daughters moved to Kewanee from Wisconsin in 1982. Paul had accepted a job as CFO of Union Federal Savings & Loan.

She began volunteering in Kindergarten when her daughter, Heather, entered Visitation. Sheila continued helping in Kindergarten until 1986 when she began assisting in the school office, which developed into her becoming a full-time office volunteer.

Mrs. Donovan continued volunteering inn the office even after her children graduated from Visitation. She never sought the spotlight—always content to work behind the scenes quietly and efficiently.
Sheila DonovanPhoto byVisitation Catholic School

All of the Donovan children are Visitation graduates. Heather (1991) and her family reside in Bismarck, North Dakota, Michelle (1993) and her family live in Columbus, Ohio and Stacey (1994) and her family live in DeKalb, Illinois.

Sheila’s husband, Paul passed away in 2018. They are the proud grandparents of one granddaughter and four grandsons.

As a member of St. John Paul II parish, Sheila also donates her time and talents as a daily and Sunday lector, and takes care of church linens and candles.

As a member of the Altar and Rosary Society, she is the first to donate baked goods for any church fundraiser.

Sheila has continued her love for Visitation by donating raffle items in the annual Visitation Bazaar and still fills in whenever needed as Visitation secretary.

Sheila began helping in 2012 at St. Mary’s Catholic School in DeKalb (her grandson’s school) sewing linens and working at their fundraisers. At the present she volunteers at OSF Saint Luke Medical Center’s Alcove and transports patients two days a week.

Mrs. Donovan will be honored as the 18th recipient of the Honorary Giant award during Catholic Schools Week on Friday, February 3, at the 1 PM Mass in Visitation Church. An award ceremony will follow in the school’s Goetzman Gymnasium.

Because of COVID, we were unable to honor an Honorary Giant recipient in 2021. Previous Honorary Giant award-winners were: The Sinsinawa Dominican Sisters in 2005, Bernie Labedis in 2006, Al Padilla in 2007, Past Visitation & High School coaches in 2008, Jerry Salisbury in 2009, Margaret and Francis Rinella & Joan and Clarence Clary in 2010, the Visitation School Foundation in 2011, Karen McNeill in 2012, Greg Ahlgren in 2013, Marcia Gleeson in 2014, Dee Seyller in 2015, Jeanne DeConinck in 2016, Vanessa Fite and Michele Wentworth in 2017, Catherine Berry in 2018, Susan Welgat in 2019, John Hartman in 2020 and Bette VanDeGenachte in 2022.

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I am retired after 45 years in the newspaper business. I am a 1972 graduate of the College of Communications at the University of Illinois.

Kewanee, IL

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