CSJ SisterStory Project
Interview with Donna Gunn


Interview with Donna Gunn



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Sister Donna Gunn, sometimes known as Mother St. John Fontbonne, talks with Claire Gunn about vocation and service, her family's legacy at Fontbonne, and disaster relief work after hurricane Katrina.



Length of Interview


Date of Interview

Spring 2015

Document Type

Oral History

Digital Format

1 MP3 (57.1 MB)

Digital Publisher

Fontbonne University Archives


St. Louis, MO


History of Religion | Oral History | United States History | Women's History

Additional Notes

Claire Gunn (no relation to Sr. Donna) is a junior majoring in Speech Language Pathology with a minor in Religious Studies at Fontbonne University in St. Louis, Missouri. She plans to complete her master’s degree in 2018 and work in a St. Louis school district with children with special needs. She is a member of the Fontbonne Campus Ministry leadership team, a Fontbonne Student Ambassador, and a peer supervisor for Fontbonne’s summer orientation for transfer students. She enjoys singing, playing the ukulele, and spending time with friends and family.

Sister Donna Loretto Gunn is a Sister of St. Joseph of Carondelet. She currently resides in St. Louis. In 1957, Virginia “Ginger” Gunn became Sister Donna Loretto, and she gained her habit. Throughout her educational career, Sister Donna earned a bachelor’s degree in Speech and Theatre from Fontbonne University, a master’s degree in Speech and Theatre from Indiana University, and a certificate in gerontology from Michigan University. She has spent her fifty-eight years as a religious sister in many different ministries. She has taught speech and theatre at St. Theresa’s Academy and Avila University. In St. Louis, she has also worked with lay elderly, and with elderly CSJ sisters. She spent 8 years leading the CSJ Province in St. Louis, and she recently returned from working with people in need in Mississippi. When she is not in ministry, she enjoys spending time with her nieces and nephews and their children.

When I heard about this project, it was almost inevitable that I would end up being a part of it. I am entering this project with various experiences with Catholic sisters. I grew up visiting sisters at Visitation Academy here in St. Louis, because of my grandma’s connection with them. I ended up going to high school at Visitation and spent time socializing with the sisters who lived on campus. They were part of the Order of the Visitation of Holy Mary. They were not active in teaching at the school but came to school events and participated in various ways. They did not wear habits and were not cloistered. I feel comfortable around sisters and love spending time with them, and am also fascinated and interested in how different orders live, dress, and live unique vocations. I also enter this project with a very strong Catholic faith. I have been Catholic my whole life, and this is another avenue in which I hope to explore my faith and my relationship with God. I love the Catholic faith, but as a ‘cradle Catholic’ I often find myself reevaluating what I’ve learned through the years as an adult. I like to be able to answer tough questions about Catholicism and why we believe and do what we do. That requires questioning things, and relearning things. I hold faith above religion and my personal faith life is more important to me than my religious life. I hope that this project can help me draw a deeper connection to my roots and to the Catholic Church as a whole. I hope that I learn new things and gain knowledge about what it means to dedicate life to God. I chose to take this class and participate in this project, because it will challenge me to complete unique assignments. I’m used to the test and formal paper format, and by blogging and doing new things, it will challenge me in new ways. I’m excited at the possibility of a friendship with a CSJ sister, and gaining new perspective on religious life. I can’t wait to meet the sister and begin to get to know her.

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Transcript unavailable.

Copyright Note

These oral histories are made available by Fontbonne University for research, educational, scholarly, and/or creative purposes only. All uses should adhere to the principle of fair use established under Section 107 of Title 17 the 1976 Copyright Act. More on fair use is available here: https://www.copyright.gov/fair-use/.

Interview with Donna Gunn



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