“What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then disappears” James 4:14 [NIV].
After receiving an email from CPCA-ON Regional Director Charlie Swartwood on July 15 notifying us of Jenn’s passing, the above Bible verse came to mind. For those of us blessed to attend CPCA ATS in Niagara Falls in October 2022, we had the opportunity to observe the fruits of Jenn’s labor and witness her “mist” spread far and wide.
In 2018, Jenn had a vision to bring CPCA ATS to Niagara Falls; therefore, after consulting with CPCA ATS Liaison Roxzena Hayden, she formed a planning committee. As of 2018, Jenn and her team began preparations to host an annual CPCA training seminar in October 2020. Covid threw a wrench into her plans; however, in 2022, Jenn and her planning committee and the CPCA leadership team moved forward in agreement to put together what many in attendance considered to be the best ATS ever. It happened because we combined our faith with Jenn, and Jenn and her team did all the heavy lifting for a week full of topics and speakers like no other! Jenn was a shining star all week, introducing the presenters, organizing behind the scenes details, greeting police chaplains from across Canada and making us all feel welcome in her town.
On a personal note, my ATS highlight regarding Jennifer came from observing her interactions with the presenters, especially the police officers who attended. The respect I saw from the police officers towards Jenn forever cemented in my mind that she was an exemplary police chaplain. You don’t gain respect from the police by having a title; you earn respect and admiration by sacrificing countless hours serving them and their families. I saw adoration and respect towards her from NRPS staff and I saw how Jenn’s heart was open and loving towards them. Member Care is the highest form of service any of us can offer to police officers, their families and the civilian employees of a police service. After spending a week around Jenn, I knew she ministered with relevance, reliability, and relatability—the 3 R’s of police chaplaincy.
There will be a Celebration of Life in Jennifer’s honor on October 7th. I will pass on more details when available. In the meantime, I encourage you to visit her memorial page using this link and leave a message for Jenn’s family if you are inclined to do so:
I began with the scripture that we are but a mist that appears for a while and then disappears. Our time on earth is fleeting, but our Creator gives us many opportunities to impact the lives of those He places in our paths. Jennifer used her talents and did not bury them; thus they were multiplied. Jennifer influenced many that she served during her time as a chaplain at NRPS. Although cancer cut short her time of service, the fruit of her labor will live on in many hearts. Jennifer served the men and women of the NRPS with excellence from May 2011 to July 2023. You will not be forgotten Jennifer (1964 – 2023).
On behalf of the CPCA family of police chaplains, I share that our thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends of Jennifer Donnell. They are also with Jenn’s companions – the priests who serve the NRPS: Carson Culp, Craig Danielson, Gerard Power and Paul Fletch. We mourn with you, our brothers. Let us all strive to love each other well, and take good care of ourselves and our families both near and far. May we use the talents our God has given us to make a difference just like our sister Jenn did for the police force for over 11 years.
Chaplain/Constable Bruce Ewanyshyn
ICPC Director for Region 1
In closing, it is fitting that I share the words written by CPCA-ON Regional Director Rev. Charles Swartwood, who knew Jennifer well:
“Jennifer’s battle with cancer is now over and she is no longer suffering. Praise be to God. In the Christian faith we often say that to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. I am sure I will see Jenn again! If there is one thing we learn as a CPCA-ON family, it is that our prayers for each other are the highest priority. When I want to give them a fun arrangement, when I want to do it together, I will give them a fun arrangement. The NRP pastors who have been faithful to serving Chaplain Donnell Your love and dedication has been exemplary.
In moments like these, my faith in the Lord carries me. I’m relieved and sad at the same time for Jenn My Friend, but I wouldn’t have wished her another day on earth.”
Moments with Jenn at CPCA ATS 2022 that serve as a reminder of how valuable our in-person CPCA ATS events are: