Donna Burkat, M.A. ’06

Finding Intellectual and Emotional Growth

Donna Burkat, M.A. ’06Donna Burkat was an early childhood educator in the Hillside School District when she began the master’s program in Jewish-Christian Studies at Seton Hall in September 2000. It was one month after her father died, and being around clergy was a comfort to her as a spiritually oriented Jewish woman.

She chose Sister Rose Thering’s program because many of her colleagues were enrolled and raved about what they were learning. The availability of scholarship support also made it affordable. To Donna, the program was eye-opening and inspiring. In addition to fellow educators, she attended classes with religious leaders from overseas who were trying to help their countries unite and heal, as well as with individuals working in law offices who were looking for better ways to reach clients.

Donna recalled, "The creme de la creme was meeting Sister Rose. I am so lucky to have known her and to have had a relationship with her. Her drive, her sense of righteousness, and her humor was magnetic. She seemed like a Jewish grandmother to me with her cross and Jewish star necklace welded into one."

After six years of part-time studies, working as a full-time educator and raising a family, Donna earned her master’s. She was so grateful for the incalculable knowledge instilled by her professors and mentors — Father Frizzell, Father Bossman, Father Morley, Rabbi Finkel and Rabbi BrilI.

Donna was very creative in bringing the lessons she learned to her grade school students. "I learned about great children’s literature that was perfect to teach young children about not stereotyping, not judging others, being kind and compassionate toward those different from us, and showing love toward others," she said. "After all, isn’t that what Sister Rose was trying to do on a much larger scale?"

Retired in 2020, Donna was so enlightened by her experience with her professors and how they approached humanity that she informed the University she had included the program in her estate plans. "I am deeply honored and proud to be a graduate and wanted to give something back for all the Jewish-Christian Studies Program gave to me. That is why I have chosen to leave some money in my will for the Sister Rose Thering Fund," Donna explained.

At a Glance: Bequests

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