"What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes" James 4:14 [NIV].
Upon receiving an email from CPCA-ON Region Director Charlie Swartwood on July 15th notifying us of the passing of Jenn, the above Bible verse came to mind. For those of us who were blessed to attend the CPCA ATS in Niagara Falls in October 2022, we had the opportunity to observe the fruits of Jenn's labor, and witness that her "mist" stretched far and wide.
In 2018, Jenn had a vision to bring the CPCA ATS to Niagara Falls; thus, after consulting with CPCA ATS Liaison Roxzena Hayden, she formed a Planning Committee. From 2018, Jenn and her team began preparations to host a CPCA Annual 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 who attended deemed 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 setting up a week stacked with topics and presenters second to none! Jenn was a shining star throughout the week, introducing the presenters, organizing details behind the scenes, greeting police chaplains from across Canada, and making all of us feel welcome in her city.
On a personal note, my ATS highlight regarding Jennifer came from observing her interact with the presenters, especially the police officers who attended. The respect I saw from the police officers towards Jenn forever solidified in my mind that she was an exemplary police chaplain. You don't gain respect from police by holding a title; you gain respect and admiration through sacrificing countless hours serving them and their families. I saw adoration and respect towards her from NRPS employees, 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 served with relevance, reliability, and relatability - the 3 R's of Police Chaplaincy.
There will be a Celebration of Life in honor of Jennifer on October 7th. I will pass along more details once they are available. Meanwhile, 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 then vanishes. Our time on the Earth is fleeting, but our Creator provides many opportunities for us to make an impact upon the lives of those He places in our paths. Jennifer used her talents and did not bury them; thus, they were multiplied. Jennifer impacted many whom she served during her time of chaplaincy with the NRPS. Although cancer cut short her time of service, the fruit of her labor will live on within many hearts. Jennifer served the men and women of 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 are with the family and friends of Jennifer Donnell. They are also with Jenn's comrades - the chaplains who serve the NRPS: Carson Culp, Craig Danielson, Gerard Power and Paul Fletch. We grieve 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 as our sister Jenn did for police personnel for over 11 years.
Chaplain/Constable Bruce Ewanyshyn
ICPC Director of Region 1
In closing, it is fitting that I share the words written by CPCA-ON Region Director Rev. Charles Swartwood, who knew Jennifer well:
"Jennifer's fight with cancer is now over and she is suffering no longer. Praise be to God. In the Christian faith we often say, to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. I am confident I will see Jenn again! If anything we are learning as the CPCA-ON Family, it is our prayers for one another are of highest priority. When I am aware of funeral arrangements, I will pass them along. At this time, I do want to commend the NRP Chaplains who have been faithful in ministering unto Chaplain Donnell. Your love and dedication have been exemplary.
At moments like these my Faith in the Lord carries me. I am relieved and sad at the same time for Jenn My Friend, however I would not have wished her another day on earth".
Moments with Jenn at the 2022 CPCA ATS which serve as a reminder of how valuable our in person CPCA ATS events are: