Sir Daniel Vigil

“Sir Daniel has touched the lives of countless people who have never met him or even known his name. His generosity and concern for so many organizations in so many aspects of Church life have made those organizations what they are today,” said Msgr. Sal Pilato in a rosary vigil eulogy he delivered at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels on Sunday.

Msgr. Francis Weber agreed, stating that “as an ecclesiastical historian,” he would say “that Daniel has very likely channeled more funds to the Catholic Church and its charitable works than any other single person in our nation’s history.”

Sir Daniel was especially instrumental in the building of the Cathedral and the upkeep of the Archdiocese’s inner-city high schools, thereby providing youth in Watts, Compton, Inglewood and South Central Los Angeles the opportunity to receive high-quality secondary education. Education was important to Sir Daniel, and he was also a major benefactor of St. Thomas Aquinas College. 

His steadfast support for the building of the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angeles was very personal. He told Msgr. Weber that prior to the project’s end, he would daily recite the segment of Psalm 102 that says, “Do not take me away before my days are complete!” 

For an individual who made such contributions to the faith and knew so much about Church history, Sir Daniel did not often speak of himself and his own personal history. In his funeral homily, Msgr. Francis Weber sought to “fill in the public record” regarding some of the details of Sir Daniel’s life.

In 1957, the Donohues founded the Dan Murphy charity. The charity was named for his father-in-law, Dan Murphy, who helped design and finance the first refrigerated railroad car, making cross-country transport of delicate fruits and vegetables, such as oranges, possible.

At one of his many honorary occasions, a speaker once began by saying that “there were three great virtues – faith, hope, and Daniel J. Donohue.” According to Msgr. Weber, that claim isn’t too far off base; “While most people spend their lifetime taking, he spent his lifetime giving away.”