Sister Dorothy Evelyn Laughlin
“The reign of God can be likened to ten bridesmaids who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom.” (Matthew 25:1)
“The theme of ‘waiting’ seems an appropriate one as we reflect on the latter years of Sister Dorothy Evelyn’s life. She waited as the illness of Parkinson’s slowly took from her the independence and mobility that were so much a part of her life. She waited as God seemed to take a very long time before calling her to eternal life. We have waited since March 17 to honor her memory. She who so loved being Irish must have been delighted that her wait ended on St. Patrick’s Day. When her wait was over and the bridegroom came, I suspect she had plenty of oil in her lamp — the oil of prayer, acceptance of suffering and 66 years of faithful service as a Sister in Providence. God knew her well and opened wide the door into heaven,” said Sister Ann Casper in her commentary for Sister Dorothy Evelyn Laughlin, who died March 17.
Dorothy Evelyn was one of two children of Lee and Catherine (Callan) Laughlin. She was born March 6, 1922, in New York. The family moved several times before settling in Indianapolis where Dorothy Evelyn graduated from St. Agnes Academy. She entered the Congregation July 19, 1942, and professed first and perpetual vows Jan. 23, 1945, and 1950, respectively. She earned a bachelor’s degree in English from Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College and a master’s degree in English from Indiana State University.
Sister Dorothy Evelyn’s long ministry in education began in 1945 at St. Simon, Washington, Ind. Her other teaching missions in Indiana included St. John Academy, St. Agnes Academy, Ladywood, Ladywood-St. Agnes and Roncalli High School, Indianapolis; Central Catholic High School, Fort Wayne; and Marquette High School, Michigan City. In Illinois, she ministered at Marywood, Evanston; Providence High School, Joliet; and Providence High School, New Lenox. Sister Dorothy Evelyn spent four years teaching at Marywood, Anaheim, Calif., and two years at Immaculata Seminary, Washington, D.C.
“Since Sister Dorothy Evelyn so loved teaching, I asked some of her former students and colleagues to share some memories of her. From their comments, it is evident that Dorothy Evelyn — or Sister Dotty E. as some called her — taught much more than her subjects of expertise, English, biology, religion and French,” said Sister Ann.
“One student wrote: ‘She was my French teacher and even though I was not Catholic during my time at Ladywood-St. Agnes I learned the Hail Mary in French before I knew it in English! I did join the church some 17 years later — the subtle evangelization by the Sisters of Providence was the guiding light behind my conversion.’
“‘I remember her English classes as though they were yesterday,’ commented another student. ‘Sister Dorothy Evelyn’s deep love for the written word, her commitment to scholarship and her passion for teaching us to seek and find joy in literature remain with me to this day. In large part due to Sister Dorothy Evelyn, I too have that passion for literature. I’m beginning my fourth graduate program — this time in teaching English. I know that I carry with me her gentle spirit, her humor and her wisdom.’
“Another student also recalled Sister Dorothy Evelyn’s smile and expressed her memory this way: ‘Sister Dorothy Evelyn was a very dear woman and a wonderful example to all of us of how it is possible to go through life with a smile on your face and give that gift to everyone you greet. She was always gracious and wanted only the very best for and from each of us. She was incredibly intelligent, graceful and strong,’” shared Sister Ann.
“On March 17, along with the bridegroom, her parents and brother, Robert, I imagine some of her former students and colleagues were behind that heavenly door when it opened. All welcomed her home as she entered with her brightly lit lamp,” concluded Sister Ann.
The Mass of Christian Burial for Sister Dorothy Evelyn was celebrated March 31, with the Rev. Daniel Hopcus presiding. She was preceded in death by her brother.
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