Father Donavan was the parish priest at St. Luke's Catholic Church in 1989. Donavan had a history in the parish and had met Brian Tilsley, and was therefore Ivy Brennan's preferred choice to officiate at Brian's funeral. However, as Brian and Gail hadn't been practicing Catholics for some years, Gail arranged a non-denominational Christian funeral for Brian instead, causing much ill-feeling between her and Ivy.
A few days after the funeral, Ivy went to confession at St. Luke's, where she admitted to having nasty feelings towards someone she should be caring for. When she said that her son had died, Father Donavan guessed that it was Ivy, and invited her through to his study for a cup of tea. There, he encouraged her to think about what Brian would have wanted, and offered to say a mass for Brian, which she and Don could attend. He also reassured her that God would not turn Brian away from Heaven because of the violent manner of his death, and his dying without the last sacraments. Her fears allayed, Ivy buried her resentment for Gail and offered her daughter-in-law her support.