Mercy Home leader named to Irish American Hall of Fame
June 7, 2019

The Rev. Scott Donahue of Mercy Home was inducted into the Irish American Hall of Fame at the Irish American Heritage Center.00

The Rev. Scott Donahue, president and CEO of Mercy Home for Boys & Girls, recently won induction into the Irish American Hall of Fame.

Located at the Irish American Heritage Center on the North Side, the Irish American Hall of Fame recognizes and honors contributions by Irish Americans to society in the arts and humanities, business and industry, public service, sports, religion, education, and science and pays tribute to exemplary Americans of Irish heritage who have shaped the Irish-American identity in the United States. 

Fr. Donahue entered the hall in the religion category for his 37-year ministry as a Catholic priest, the majority of which he has spent overseeing the care, therapeutic services, educational support, and career preparation for children and teens living at Mercy Home.

Also inducted into this year’s class are Dorothy Day, Sen. John McCain, Pat Roche, James J. O’Connor, Jack O’Callahan, Mother Mary Gerald Barry O.P., Kathleen “Kay” McNulty Mauchly Antonelli, and Fiona McEntee.

“I am honored and humbled to have been chosen as just one example of the mark that the Irish have left on this great country,” Fr. Donahue said. “But I really want to dedicate this honor on behalf of Mercy Home’s donors and friends who have made so much possible in my own ministry and in the lives of so many children and families over the years. I am deeply grateful.”

Fr. Donahue is the eighth in an unbroken string of Irish-American priests who have led Mercy Home for Boys & Girls as president since its founding in 1887 by Chicago’s first Archbishop, Patrick Feehan.

Since Fr. Donahue began working with Mercy Home in 1990, he has extended more services to people in need, including families and former residents, than at any time in the organization’s history.

He also has overseen development of the organization’s approach to caring for young people in response to new insights into trauma and child development and to the types of adverse experiences bringing youngsters to Mercy Home in recent decades. Fr. Donahue is committed to sharing what Mercy Home has learned about working with young people in crisis so that other professionals and organizations around the country have more tools at their disposal to promote healing. Recently, he shared his own experiences caring for children at Mercy Home in a book called Years of Mercy.

His advocacy on behalf of children and mental health issues has led him to play significant roles in the Chicago Archdiocese’s violence prevention initiative and in the Kennedy Forum of Illinois, which combats the stigma of mental illness, which often prevents people from seeking the help they need.

Fr. Donahue established a department within Mercy Home to organize academic and career preparation for the home’s young men and women. As one outcome of this enhanced focus on academics, high school seniors living at Mercy Home graduate at a rate of 100%, despite coming to the home an average of three years behind their peers in school.

Fr. Donahue also promotes children’s and professionals’ spiritual development. He established a faith-based volunteer service year program for recent college graduates, MercyWorks, which allows volunteers to work directly with young people at Mercy Home.

He also has served in significant roles in the Chicago Archdiocese, including vice chairman of the Association of Chicago Priests and vocations director.

Mercy Home is located at 1140 W. Jackson Blvd. Call (312) 738-7560 or log on to