Catholic priest who once served in Quincy on leave from Springfield church

The Rev. Tom Donovan
Posted: Jan. 11, 2013 11:19 pm Updated: Feb. 2, 2013 4:15 am


SPRINGFIELD, Ill. --A Catholic priest who served two different periods in Quincy is now on leave, according to the Diocese of Springfield, after a late November incident.

The website reports the Rev. Tom Donovan, pastor of St. Aloysius Church in Springfield, is on leave after he dialed 911 asking for help getting out of handcuffs – a call that has been replayed across the internet almost 100,000 times in recent days.

Police said the priest was wearing an orange jumpsuit and a mask with a gag in his mouth, NBC affiliate KSDK of St. Louis reported.

Diocesan spokeswoman Kathie Sass told CWR that Donovan approached Bishop Thomas Paprocki about the incident before Christmas and before it attracted media attention.

The website reports Sass said the priest "asked for help and was granted leave to deal with personal issues." She added that Donovan is "away from the parish."

The Springfield police report indicated no crime was committed.

The priest's 911 call was originally published on the Illinois Times website in an article by Bruce Rushton. In the phone call, which the priest made from the church rectory on the morning of Nov. 28, he tells the 911 dispatcher he is stuck in a pair of handcuffs and is the only one in his church. He said he feared a medical emergency if he was not helped.

Part of the 911 call included the following:

"I'm going to need help getting out before this becomes a medical emergency," Donovan told a dispatcher.

"You're stuck in a pair of handcuffs?" the dispatcher asks.

"(I was) playing with them and I need help getting out," Donovan said.

Rushton reported Donovan told the dispatcher that he was alone in the rectory. Rushton also said it was unclear exactly how he ended up in handcuffs or why he feared a medical emergency.

Donovan served for two years, seven months between 2005-08 as parochial vicar of St. Peter Parish in Quincy. He was the on-site administrator for the parish while the Rev. Daniel Bergbower was deployed overseas as a chaplain with the Air National Guard.

In addition to regular pastoral duties at St. Peter, Donovan, who was 35 at the time, also served as the director of religious education.

Donovan also served in Quincy for six months in 2003, working as a seminarian with the Rev. Michael Kuse at what was then known as St. Mary Parish (now Blessed Sacrament).

Donovan left Quincy after being been assigned by then-Bishop George Lucas to Sts. Mary and Joseph Parish in Carlinville.

Donovan entered seminary at age 28 following a brief career as a research and development chemist in his hometown of Decatur. He has a bachelor's degree in physiology from the University of Illinois and a master's degree in biology from Illinois State.