Sister Dorothy (Damien) Deal
“When I think of the wisdom and scope of God’s plan, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, the Creator of everything in heaven and on Earth. …” (Ephesians 3:14)
“This Scripture passage seemed an appropriate one for Sister Dorothy Deal, who died at age 91, a Sister of Providence for 74 years, an educator for more than 40 years. Indeed, how often during those 91 years did she fall on her knees and pray? How often did she sink her roots into the soil of God’s love and let the mystery of God’s power work in her?” said Sister Ann Casper in her commentary for Sister Dorothy Deal, who died Jan. 2.
Dorothy Helen Deal, one of three children born to Lee and Elizabeth (Mathis) Deal, entered this world July 3, 1919, in Brazil, Ind. She attended grade school at Annunciation in Brazil and graduated from the Juniorate at the Woods. She entered the Congregation Jan. 9, 1937, and received the religious name Sister Damien. She professed first and perpetual vows Aug. 15, 1939, and 1945, respectively. Sister Dorothy earned a bachelor’s degree in education from Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College and a master’s degree in education from Cardinal Stritch University, Milwaukee.
Sister Dorothy began teaching school in 1939 at St. Charles, Peru. In Indiana, she ministered as either a teacher or principal at St. Philip Neri, St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Matthew, Indianapolis; Annunciation, Brazil; St. John the Baptist, Whiting; and St. Malachy, Brownsburg. Sister Dorothy spent four years on the East Coast teaching at Dunblane, Washington, D.C., and Sacred Heart, Malden, Mass. In Chicago, she ministered at St. Leo and St. Angela.
In 1977, Sister Dorothy ministered as a reading specialist in adult education at United Southside Community Organization. “‘Sister Dorothy was perfect for adult learners, because she was determined that they would learn,’ said Sister Jane Bodine, director of the center. ‘Her motto was that there was only one way to do anything — do it right!’ Sister Jane recalled that when three young seminarians were assisting there, Sister Dorothy let them know immediately that she was their boss. They loved to tease her, a sure indication that they liked her and enjoyed giving her a hard time,” shared Sister Ann.
From 1979 to 1986, Sister Dorothy ministered as the coordinator of facilities at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College. “In 1986 she returned to her home-parish of Annunciation in Brazil, where she served as parish secretary, with additional responsibilities — not common for most secretaries! — of teaching religious education and preparing children for First Communion,” continued Sister Ann.
Sister Dorothy returned to the Woods in 1990 and volunteered in a variety of ways.
“‘Sister Dorothy was definitely a perfectionist,’ shared one sister. ‘I think she was the only one living in Owens Hall who cleaned her room every day! She also loved to have her room decorated just so for every season.’ Despite having an honest and upfront attitude, many of us knew that Dorothy was a worrier. Someone commented, ‘She could worry about almost anyone or anything,’” continued Sister Ann.
“We were also aware of Sister Dorothy’s love for her family and an image many of us have of her is with her bags packed, waiting at the Owens dock door, ready to be picked up by Lee or Rita and taken to their home for the duration of the holidays or for other special family occasions.
“I noted this theme of ‘home’ several times in preparing this commentary. In two of three questions Sister Dorothy answered at one time, and which I read in her file, she said her favorite mission was ‘St. John, Whiting, because the atmosphere was so homey and comfortable.’ And as her fondest memory she noted, ‘The good, old summer days when we returned home to the Woods and were renewed in mind, body and spirit.’
“Sister Dorothy died on the beautiful feast of Epiphany and knew God’s manifestation fully at 6:35 p.m. That evening, she was filled with the fullness of the power and life that comes from God — that same mighty power at work within her during 91 years of life. Yes, God was able to accomplish infinitely more than she would have even dared to ask or hope for. And, we can be sure now that all her worries are over! She is resting in peace,” concluded Sister Ann.
The Mass of Christian Burial for Sister Dorothy was celebrated Jan. 7, with the Rev. Michael Fritsch, her nephew, presiding. She is survived by one sister, Rita Fritsch, of Brazil, Ind.
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