Oral Histories

Interview of Diane Donoghue

Founder of Esperanza Community Development Corporation and member of the Sisters of Social Service.
Mitigating Poverty in the City of Angels: Interviews with Affordable Housing and Social Welfare Activists
Social Movements
Community Activism
Biographical Note:
Founder of Esperanza Community Development Corporation and member of the Sisters of Social Service.
Collings, Jane
Donoghue, Diane
Persons Present:
Donoghue and Collings.
Place Conducted:
Sessions one to three and five to seven: the Holy Spirit Retreat Center in Encino, California; Session four: the Sisters of Social Service house of formation in Los Angeles, California.
Supporting Documents:
Records relating to the interview are located in the office of the UCLA Library's Center for Oral History Research.
Interviewer Background and Preparation:
The interview was conducted by Jane Collings, interviewer and senior editor, Center for Oral History Research; B.A., Communications, Antioch College; M.A., Communications, University of Iowa; Ph.D., Critical Studies, University of California, Los Angeles.
Processing of Interview:
The transcript is a verbatim transcription of the recording. It was transcribed by a professional transcribing agency using a list of proper names and specialized terminology supplied by the interviewer. Donoghue was then given an opportunity to review the transcript and made a few corrections and additions. Those corrections were entered into the text without further editing or review on the part of the Center for Oral History Research staff.
10 hrs.
Regents of the University of California, UCLA Library.
Series Statement:
The series documents affordable housing activism in the Los Angeles area with particular attention to the work of community development corporations. Additional interviews document the work of social justice activists whose work concerns both the low income housing crisis in the city as well as the ways that income inequality impacts the daily life of the most vulnerable among us.
Early life—Family moves to Los Angeles—Difficult economic times—Mother's employment at Biltmore Hotel—Father's employment in the defense industry during World War II—Father's poor health—Family motoring expeditions on the weekends—More on father's poor health—Schooling—Clothing at high school—Lives in a variety of LA neighborhoods—Enjoys the space at family's Park La Brea apt—Class differences among classmates—Excitement at receiving a bicycle—Ice skating at Pan Pacific Park—Sense of community at Cathedral Chapel school—Meets African American kids for the first time at camp—Awareness of class differences while at LA High—Neighborhoods lived in as a child—Fears of being evicted for making noise as kids—Donoghue's brother John—Future plans—Plans to go to UCLA—Involvement with University Religious Conference (URC) at UCLA—Joins a sorority—The difficulties in getting classes at UCLA—Decides on a political science major—Memorable professor, Jan Popper—The rich learning environment at UCLA and at URC—The goal of the Panel of Americans to enhance cultural understanding among ethnic groups—Instances of intolerance—More on the work of the Panel of Americans—Discrimination against people of color and Catholics in LA during mid-century—Panel of Americans as a starting point for Project India—Spurs group—Cross-cultural initiatives at UCLA at mid-century—Public perception of UCLA as left leaning—Adaline Guenther's skill as a recruiter for student boards—Interfaith outreach at UCLA—The social justice concerns of the interfaith outreach at UCLA—Ray Cardenas —The economic situation of the kids at UniCamp—The Project India selection process—The flight to India—Train travel in India—Demographics of the Kerala area—Student hostels in India—Builds a school in a refugee camp at the time of the Indian-Pakistan partition—Poverty in India—Indian students' impressions of America—A message of tolerance for the Indian students—More on Indian students' impressions of America—A message of what democracy meant to the Project India students to counter the Communist Party in India at that time—State department and Ford Foundation funding —Project India as the foundation of the Peace Corps—Friendships among Project India teammates— Class and religious divisions in India —Mother Theresa's work at the Kali Temple—Memories of Mother Theresa—Class divisions in India—Perception of manual labor in India—Group goals of Project India team—Clothing worn by Project India team—More on project to build a school house in Indian refugee camp—Ethnic diversity of Project India team—The Panel of Americans—The closing of the Project India program—Impact of the Vietnam War protest on Project India—Donoghue's support of conscientious objectors (CO) during the Vietnam war—The US war in Afghanistan—Bob Nakamoto's experience of internment—Nakamoto's obstetric practice—More on the end of the Project India program—Begins employment with Red Cross doing outreach—Performs volunteer work for Sisters of Social Service—Enters the novitiate.
Adaline Guenther—Donoghue's family of independent women—Guenther's personal style—Guenther's qualities as s mentor—Guenther's leadership qualities—Guenther's involvement in the URC—Guenther's select group of student participants—Integration between campus activities and the religious conference activities—Takes a position with the Red Cross doing community outreach—Works with a Red Cross leadership camp—Catholic Youth Organization (CYO) —Volunteer work at Santa Rita Center near Ramona Gardens—Gives away her formal dresses when entering the Novitiate—Participates in a sorority while at college but finds it limiting—Formal wear at college dances—Works with the Ramona Gardens community—The transformation of Ramona Gardens—The CYO network—Inspired by the work of the Sisters of Social Service to join the order—Becomes a postulate—A split within the order over the issue of ministry—Mentored by Sister Elizabeth and Sister Frederica—History of the Sisters of Social Service Order—The social justice focus of the Order—An emphasis on issues impacting women and children within the Order—More on a split within the Order over the level of ministry activity—More on the social justice focus of the Order—Social forces impelling the increasing social justice work of the Order—Works at an urgent treatment center as a master's student—Employment with CYO—Attends University of California, Berkeley in area of social work—Works with program called "The Search" on weekends while a master's student—A strike at the School of Social Work in favor of diversity—Free Speech Movement—People's Park—Fieldwork at a day treatment center for addicts while in grad school—The decision to attend graduate school—Ways that people dressed at Berkeley—Protests about People's Park at graduation—Work in Haight-Ashbury leads to an understanding of how people can feel constrained—Enjoys folk music of the era—Fieldwork with an addiction treatment group—Returns to CYO after graduation—Fired for writing CO letters for draftees—An allegation of sexual abuse at CYO—The Sisters of Social Service withdraw from working in CYO in areas where priests tended to manifest an entitlement mentality toward the sisters—The Sisters of Social Service commitment to a collaborative working relationships model—Book "Quest for the Living God" raises questions in the church hierarchy—The commitment of the Sisters of Social Service to serving the needy—The wider community of women's orders within the church—An investigation of social justice- focused women's communities in the church—More on being fired for writing CO letters—Donoghue's issues with serving alcohol to teens at the youth camp—The Stanford Youth Solutions home for foster youth in Sacramento—Wind, a youth shelter for runaways—The transformative nature of Vatican II—The executive skill of the sisters in a number of different ministries—Changes in chapter organization—Stella Maris residence for students and working women—Maya Way residential drug rehab program for women heroin users—Begins community organizing work with the Industrial Areas Foundation—Goes to Nicaragua for Witness for Peace—Goes to El Salvador—Becomes community organizer at St. Vincent de Paul Parish.
The Catholic Church launches an investigation into women religious in the United States—Early history of the Sisters of Social Service (SSS) —The mission of the Order—The history of social justice activism by SSS—Aging membership of SSS—SSS focus on most marginalized communities—Ways that sisters have staffed church institutions such as hospitals and schools—The tradition of activism within the community on the part of women religious in the United States—Impact of Vatican II—Feminist spirituality—More on the high educational standards within the Order—Accusations on part of bishops that orders were not attracting members due to inadequate religious faith —Tension between active and cloistered communities—The process of the church's investigation into the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCRW)—Network and LCRW—Fear of surveillance when corresponding about how to counter the church's investigation—The case against the Immaculate Heart community—The charge of "radical feminist" levied against the LCRW—The controversy surrounding the book "She Who Is"— LCRW's support for the Affordable Care Act (ACA) —The history of SSS.
The sense of caution on in the aftermath of the announcement of the bishops' investigation—Unwelcome prospect of church oversight of women religious—Prospect of a splintering of groups—Relevance of the play "Doubt" to the current situation—Conditions that informed the advancement of the women's orders—Responses of women's orders to Vatican II—The parameters of the bishop's investigation—An affirming message from a fellow sister—Community organizing with Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF) and United Neighbors Organization (UNO) —Organizing around issue of auto insurance—Works on Free South Africa movement while on sabbatical in Berkeley—Becomes first community organizer for St. Vincent's parish in Los Angeles—Receives a first call regarding a housing issue—Corruption in the 9th District—Fights against building a factory within the 9th District, a residential area—Formation of One LA—The effort to close liquor stores in the neighborhood—Works at Stella Maris—Maya Way program—The recognition from the priest that brought Sister Diane to Vincent de Paul Parish as first community organizer—Organized residents from the 9th District to visit city council members' offices with map showing where proposed factory would go—A successful re-zoning victory—Secures funding for a square block complex, Villa Esperanza—Villa Esperanza funding—High proportion of below-poverty-level residents in Los Angeles—Mercado La Paloma—Promotoras de Salud, health worker training—Good response from community members to original organizing campaign—Speaker training from community members to testify at council meeting—Techniques to draw attention to neighborhood issues—The LA Live gentrification effort—Importance that Esperanza staff be bilingual in Spanish and English—Contribution to effort by Cecelia Nunez—Other community member contributions—Conservation Corps cleanup at Villa Esperanza site—More on community member contributions—The Esperanza board—Property values in the neighborhood—Challenges to Esperanza and the Land Trust—Participation in protests against American involvement in Central America—Criteria for eligibility for tenancy at Esperanza—Boundaries of the neighborhood—The Promotora program—Changing demographics of the neighborhood—The Land Trust focus on both Hispanic and African American Esperanza's efforts to hold USC accountable for its impact on the neighborhood—More on funding for Esperanza—Uses of Esperanza sites for community service outreach—Tenants participation in community actions—Community education and planning schools in coordination with Strategic Action for a Just Economy (SAJE)—Promotoras de Salud—Esperanza's vulnerabilities in the context of the current funding climate—Collaborative working environment among Community Development Corporation (CDC) founders throughout LA—Leadership of Community Design Center for LA CDCs—Importance of collaborations and respect—The Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC)'s role as coordinator for information—Opportunity for lucrative investments in low income housing—The pivotal role of the low income housing development tax credit.
Congregation Defense of the Faith (CDF)'s unprecedented critical focus on the activities of Network—Simone Campbell—The Nuns on the Bus initiative—Strategies for talking to media with a focus on issues rather than on tension between bishops and LCWR —Prospective participants for bus tour—The campaign-style bus —Media considerations—The Fortnight for Freedom movement against the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services mandate—The immigration rights struggle—Impact of Vietnam era protests as factor in social mobilization—Focus of Network on social justice issues—More on Fortnight for Freedom—Penalties incurred by those taking a stand against church structure—Bishop Blair of Fresno—A Service Employees International Union (SEIU) effort with Catholic hospital workers—More on Bishop Blair—Church response to the mandate to cover reproductive health medical resources under insurance—Lawsuit brought by church against state of California to halt abortions in Catholic hospitals—Pluralist nature of American society—Bishop Blair's position in support of interfaith effort—Difference between lifestyles of bishops by country—The proposed Nuns on the Bus tour—Simone Campbell—Facebook and the proposed tour.
The structure of the stops for the Nuns on the Bus tour—The relationship of the SSS work to Rerum Novarum—The focus on the (Congressman Paul) Ryan budget—The relationship of Network to Vatican II—Simone Campbell attends the Big Table gathering—The planning and financial support for the bus tour—More on the Big Table—US.Familes.org—A daily prayer service at Methodist church across from the Supreme Court during deliberations on the ACA case—The bus used for the tour—Participants on the tour—Handling media on the tour—Tour bus driver—More on participants on tour—Blogs on the road—Donoghue's role as treasurer—Ripple effect of communications about the trip—Impact of the local protests on Congressional district offices—Parish support throughout the tour—Content of presentations to local supporters outside district offices—The reading of the ACA Supreme Court decision—More on support for the community—Meets editorial board of Cedar Rapids Gazette—More on support from the community—Troubles with negotiating forms of media—Dissemination of Donoghue's blogs on the trip—Simone Campbell's meeting with Paul Ryan—The reports to President Obama and Vice President Biden about the Nuns on the Bus tour—Resurgence of a consciousness about what SSS is about—Paul Ryan's justification as a Catholic for his budget—Differences in lifestyle between nuns and bishops—The Faithful Budget—"Reasonable revenue for responsible programs" chant—More on the Faithful Budget—The political landscape of the healthcare debate—Media reporting—Sees the bus tour as akin to trip made in the fifties with Project India—High level of support from the community at stops—Impactful encounters on the tour—Sister Maria's medical clinic—The makeup of crowds at the stops—Donoghue's speech given at bus tour stops—Responses to presentations—The ordination of women—The upcoming Call to Action event—The School of the Americas—The film, "Pink Smoke over the Vatican"—Donoghue's priorities center around food, shelter, clothing issues—More on Call to Action conference—Continuing efforts of House to repeal ACA—The start of a new conversation about the Ryan budget as a result of the bus tour—The friendraiser events—Changes as a result of Vatican II—Solidarity with bishops on social justice issues but avoidance of discussion of ACA—Responses on the part of the parishes to the message of the bus tour—Demographics of crowds attracted to tour stops—Visits Congressman Eric Cantor's office—Sister Susan—Visits Congressman John Boehner's office—Eric Cantor—The visit to Boehner's office—Changes in the message along the route—Donoghue's brother's adopted children—Importance of preserving supportive services—The last day of the tour in Washington, DC—Impressions of the Midwest—The documentary film crew on the bus—The bus itself.