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Deacon Irvin Boppart

Class of 1976

Deacon Irvin J. Boppart Sr., 83, of North Chicago, died April 2. He was ordained in 1976 and served at Most Blessed Trinity Parish in Waukegan.

Born in Richmond, Illinois, he grew up in McHenry County and moved to North Chicago in 1962. He was a longtime parishioner of Mother of God Church in Waukegan before becoming a member of Queen of Peace Church/Most Blessed Trinity Parish.

He graduated from Loras College in Dubuque, Iowa, and worked as a teacher and in building maintenance at First Midwest Bank and later at Gurnee Mills.

He is survived by his children: Irvin Jr., Tony, Cathy and Tim; three grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren. He is also survived by two brothers, Loren and Gene, and three sisters, Marilyn, Phyllis and Betty. He was preceded in death by his wife, Rebecca, in 1997.

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Sr. Donna Marie Davis

Nursing assistant

Holy Family of Nazareth Sister Donna Marie Davis (formerly Our Lady of Charity Sister Anthony), 71, died March 10 at Holy Family Medical Center, Des Plaines. She was in her 54th year of religious life.

Born in Cincinnati, she entered the Sisters of Our Lady of Charity in Carrolton, Ohio, in 1966 and remained with this congregation for 30 years, serving at St. John’s Villa in Ohio. In the late 1990s, she began the transfer process to the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth. In June 2000, she professed perpetual vows as a Sister of the Holy Family of Nazareth.

As a certified nursing assistant, she served at Nazarethville in Des Plaines. Later, when she became a resident at Nazarethville, she continued to assist with sisters and those who were dying.

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Sr. Rita Claire Dorner


Sinsinawa Dominican Sister Rita Claire (Antonine) Dorner, 89, died April 6 at the Dominican motherhouse, Sinsinawa, Wisconsin.

Born in Chicago, she made her first religious profession in 1951 and her perpetual profession in 1954.

She taught music for 25 years and in the graduate program in pastoral ministry for 18 years, serving as director for seven of those years. Sister Rita Claire served as director of religious education, liturgist and/or music director at parishes and with her religious sisters for 16 years.

She served in Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota, the District of Columbia and California.

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Fr. Chester Smith

Chicago native

Divine Word Father Chester Smith, 60, died suddenly on April 8.

Father Smith, who grew up on Chicago’s South Side, was one of the first pair of African-American twins to be ordained Catholic priests. He was an international leader in African-American ministry and youth outreach.

He was encouraged by his mother and by Father Edward Delaney at Our Lady of the Gardens Parish.

“Father Chester often spoke of the encouragement he received from Father Delaney to become a priest ‘because your people need you,’” said his identical twin brother, Divine Word Father Charles Smith. “Father Delaney’s comments were the foundation of his ministry, encouraging black men and women to be leaders in their communities, parishes and churches.”

Born five minutes after his brother in 1959, Chester was the second of four children in their family. The brothers attended Divine Word Seminary High School in East Troy, Wisconsin, and then Divine Word College in Epworth, Iowa, where Chester earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology.

In 1982, the brothers professed religious vows in the Society of the Divine Word at Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, site of the first Catholic seminary for African-American students. They were both ordained in 1988.

Father Chester Smith once said that he committed to the idea of becoming a priest when he was a seminarian, working in the Watts section of Los Angeles.

During his priesthood, Father Smith was an associate pastor at St. Anselm and St. Elizabeth parishes in Chicago, as well as St. Nicholas in St. Louis. He founded Ambassadors of the Word, a peer group ministry program that fosters youth rites of passage and cross-cultural experiences. He and his brother also developed Boyhood to Manhood, a parish-based program to help young black men realize their value, get in touch with their spirituality and train future church leaders.

As a founding member of the Bowman Francis Ministry Team, Father Smith designed and implemented retreats, leadership programs and revivals that celebrate African and African-American culture within the context of the Catholic Church. For two decades, he organized the National Black Catholic Men’s Conference, which annually draws multiple generations of African-American men for workshops and liturgies.

Father Smith also co-authored two books: “Boyhood to Manhood,” a rite of passage manual for African-American boys, and “My Family, Our Family,” a manual for family Kwanzaa celebration.

From 2006 to 2010, he served as president of the National Black Catholic Clergy Caucus.

In addition to degrees from Divine Word College and Catholic Theological Union, Father Smith pursued French studies at the University of Montreal in Montreal, Canada, and Rites of Passage Training at the Institute of Black Studies in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Along with his twin brother, Father Smith is survived by a sister, Marcheta, and a brother, Kermit.