Batavia bridge rededicated to honor local religious leader

Published: 8/9/2008 12:05 AM

The Donovan Bridge in Batavia - also known as the Wilson Street bridge -will be officially rededicated in honor of longtime Batavia religious leader William J. Donovan, now that reconstruction is nearly complete.

Mayor Jeff Schielke has planned a short rite for 6 p.m. Aug. 30, the weekend of Batavia's 175th anniversary celebration.

Aurora Mayor Tom Weisner, who grew up in Batavia, will speak. Weisner served for 10 years as an altar boy at Holy Cross Catholic Church during Donovan's tenure. Monsignor Daniel Deutsch, the current head priest at Holy Cross, will offer a blessing.

Donovan served Holy Cross from 1929 to retirement in 1967. He continued to live in Batavia until his death, at age 102, in 1985. Before serving at Holy Cross, he was stationed at Holy Angels parish in Aurora and St. Patrick parish in St. Charles. He had also served as a chaplain at St. Joseph Mercy Hospital in Aurora, and as the Catholic chaplain for five years at Mooseheart when it opened.

The bridge was named for him in 1983.

In a 2006 Daily Herald article about growing up in Batavia, Weisner spoke of the influence Donovan had on him: "He would always take the time to talk with me after Mass. He was a wonderful man. I got to observe him in the way he dealt with others of all faiths. He was a very humanistic Christian and taught me a lot."