Brother O’Donnell, a lawyer and former educator, remembered as ‘proponent of peace and justice’

Brother Francis J. (Frank) O’Donnell, a tireless advocate for the downtrodden who served on quite a few native boards, died July 22. Brother O’Donnell, who would have turned 80 subsequent month, had been a member of the Marianist neighborhood for 62 years and a working towards lawyer for the previous three a long time.

A viewing will likely be held Aug. 3 from 3-5 p.m. and 7-9 p.m. on the Church of the Annunciation in Rosedale, adopted by a funeral Aug. 4, 10:30 a.m., on the identical web site. There will likely be a storytelling session on Aug. 3 at 7:30 p.m. and burial will likely be at Sacred Coronary heart of Jesus Cemetery in Dundalk following the Mass and a lunch.

Brother O’Donnell, a lawyer and former educator, remembered as ‘proponent of peace and justice’
Marianist Brother Frank O’Donnell, a member of his non secular order for 62 years, served on a number of academic boards within the Baltimore space. (Kevin J. Parks/CR Employees)

“Brother Frank made friendships over a broad spectrum of the neighborhood,” stated M. Teresa Garland, an administrative legislation decide in Maryland’s Workplace of Administrative Hearings the place Brother O’Donnell labored. “He sat on quite a lot of boards centered on selling fairness for traditionally deprived members of society and people who had been discriminated towards due to race, gender identification, sexual desire and the like. He fought for the underdog.”

Philip Forte, a trainer at Archbishop Curley, first met Brother O’Donnell as a scholar at Cardinal Gibbons Faculty and later turned a co-worker on the now-closed Southwest Baltimore faculty. Forte stated Brother O’Donnell, a proud native of Philadelphia, was a “nice proponent of peace and justice.”

“The archdiocese constructed faculties like Cardinal Gibbons and Archbishop Curley to make Catholic schooling inexpensive to the center class,” Forte stated. “He was an important advocate for that. I bear in mind him as somebody all the time prepared to take dangers. The early Seventies had been some tumultuous instances, and he was all the time on the innovative, prepared to do issues like enjoyable the gown code for college students.

“He all the time tried to be a job mannequin, and he actually did that. Later, he labored feverishly in Annapolis to verify the impoverished had been represented.”

Brother O’Donnell spent the primary twenty years of his skilled profession in schooling, educating French and theology at Cardinal Gibbons Faculty earlier than serving as principal. He then served because the vocations director for the Marianists earlier than attending legislation faculty on the College of Maryland.

He practiced public curiosity legislation and labored within the Division of Juvenile Providers and the Governor’s Workplace for Youngsters, Youth and Households. On the time of his dying, he was serving as a workers legal professional on the Workplace of Administrative Hearings in Hunt Valley. 

He was fascinated with social justice causes, notably working to abolish the dying penalty. He volunteered as a jail minister at Jessup Correctional Establishment, ministering to these serving life sentences.

He informed The Catholic Overview in a 2020 interview that he switched careers from schooling to authorized advocacy as a result of he needed “to create change from the within.”

Marianist Brother Frank O’Donnell, middle, all the time made it some extent to return to Cardinal Gibbons Faculty reunions and casual gatherings. The previous Gibbons scholar and principal, is pictured Philip Forte, left, and Donald J. DelCiello at a latest reunion of the now-closed faculty. (Courtesy Philip Forte)

Because the director of the Tenant Advocacy Undertaking on the Public Justice Heart, he helped individuals keep away from eviction and navigate court docket proceedings.

“I met Brother Frank in 2003 when he got here to work with me on the [now defunct] Governor’s Workplace for Youngsters, Youth and Households,” Garland stated. “He was extremely really useful by a mutual pal as a result of of his academic background and his robust work ethic. He was affectionately known as a “center linebacker” not because of his bodily stature, however due to his many skills. An educator, librarian, lawyer, legislative skilled, civil rights champion and Marianist brother, he introduced a lot to the desk and I’ll all the time cherish his knowledge and serenity.”

Garland stated Brother O’Donnell introduced extra to the desk than simply his skilled abilities, noting that he handled the workplace to a selection of Panera Bread goodies as soon as a month.

“Brother Frank was beneficiant to a fault,” she stated. “He all the time remembered birthdays, anniversaries and different milestones and he beloved to ship playing cards simply to let you already know he was considering of you. My workplace has most of the considerate presents Brother Frank bestowed upon me over a few years and two careers collectively.”

Alice B. Johnson, an legal professional and co-worker within the Maryland Workplace of Administrative Hearings, stated: “Brother Frank was a considerate and beneficiant pal who might all the time be counted on in your time of want. He additionally had an important humorousness and ‘assisted’ my cat in delivering particular notes of because of me. I’ll actually miss him.”

He served on quite a lot of native boards, together with at Mom Seton Academy and Bon Secours Group Works.

In a 2020 profile, Brother O’Donnell informed The Marianists, “I usually say to folks that I’ve been blessed throughout my 60 years of ministry to do ministry that I loved doing. Whether or not it was educating within the classroom (and 60 years later, I’m nonetheless in contact with former college students and their dad and mom); serving to to create the primary Marianist Sharing Fund within the New York Province; working within the Maryland legislature; or being energetic on a number of boards that serve authorized providers teams, non secular communities, Marianist faculties and social justice organizations, I’ve been pleased and fulfilled in that ministry.”

E-mail Gerry Jackson at [email protected]

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