Sister Dorothy McLaughlin
“There is a giving which will not impoverish and a withholding that will not enrich.” As I reflect upon Sister Dorothy and the way in which she lived her life, this inscription which is taken from the Martyr’s Bell at the Shrine of the Holy Martyrs in Auriesville, New York seems so appropriate for her and the entire McLaughlin Family, said Sister Danielle Sullivan in her commentary for Sister Dorothy McLaughlin who died June 17, 2013 at the age of 94.
The youngest of three children of Michael and Mary Frances (Harrington) McLaughlin, Edna Catherine was born on Oct. 19, 1918 in Butte, Montana. Due to a tragic event, her mom was to raise Jim, Mary Clare, and Edna Catherine as a single parent. Dorothy was so young when her father passed away that she did not have any memory of him. She would often recall how her mom worked hard to provide for them and taught her three children to complete each task with love and great attention to detail. No matter how small or insignificant a task may appear, it was to be done well. The three children were also taught to appreciate how good God was to them and to be considerate of those less fortunate. Sister Dorothy would frequently tell me how each Christmas Day her mom would ask each one of her three children to select one of their new presents to give away. Dorothy said they would make their selection. She also added that they selected not the least favored but the most favored gift. The McLaughlin Family would then go and bring their gifts and the spirit of Christmas to others. “There is a giving which will not impoverish and a withholding that will not enrich,” Sister Danielle continued.
Mrs. McLaughlin moved her family to Chicago, Ill. Here Dorothy attended both St. Gabriel Grade School and St. Andrew Grade School. For high school, Dorothy came to Saint Mary-of-the-Woods Academy. She entered the Congregation Jan. 11, 1936, professed first vows Aug. 15, 1938 and final vows Jan. 23, 1944. Dorothy earned a bachelor of science degree in education from Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College and a master’s degree in education from Indiana State University.
Sisters Dorothy began her teaching ministry in 1938 at St. Anthony’s School in Indianapolis. For more than 45 years she ministered in the field of education. Thirty years were dedicated to teaching children in Sisters of Providence elementary schools. Sister Dorothy also ministered as an elementary school principal for nine years. During this time, she still continued teaching at least half day. Sister Dorothy also ministered as a school secretary for six years. Her service in the field of education, which started at St. Anthony’s School, also led her in Indiana to Sacred Hearts in Whiting and in Evansville. She taught at St. Angela’s in Chicago; St. Patrick’s in Fayetteville, NC; St. Clement’s in Lansdowne and Holy Redeemer in College Park, MD; Lady Isle in Portsmouth and St. Mary’s in Rochester, NH; and St. Ann’s, Dunblane, and Immaculata Prep in Washington, DC. “There is a giving which will not impoverish and a withholding that will not enrich.”
In 1984 Sister Dorothy was appointed provincial secretary for St. Raphael Province. After four years she came home to Saint Mary-of-the-Woods where she served as provincial staff secretary for one year and office assistant in the Mission Advancement office for six years. After 56 years of active ministry, Dorothy officially retired. “There is a giving which will not impoverish and a withholding that will not enrich.”
Since I had the privilege of living and ministering with Dorothy on four different missions, I can personally speak of her commitment to live out her religious life as a Sister of Providence, performing works of love, mercy, and justice. Once I was very discouraged after correcting a set of test papers. No one had done well! Dorothy said let me look at the papers. She had me throw them away and said we can fix this! With her guidance, we did. Sister Dorothy has been my mentor and my friend ever since that day. I know that she will continue to be my mentor and my friend. “There is a giving which will not impoverish and a withholding that will not enrich.” Sister Danielle said.
One of Sister Dorothy’s greatest challenges was her move into health care. She had always been a doer. She had been taught to be independent, to complete each task well with attention to detail, and to care for others. Now she felt that she was losing her independence, others were taking care of her, and tasks were not being done as she would do them. I do know that Dorothy truly appreciated all that was done for her even though it was a challenge having others do for her what she truly wanted to do for herself. “There is a giving which will not impoverish and a withholding that will not enrich.”
Sister Dorothy treasured her family. She never forgot the lessons she learned at an early age from her mom. We know that these lessons continue to be passed along from generation to generation in the McLaughlin extended family. Our thoughts and prayers are with her nieces and nephews. We believe that Sister Dorothy is now at home with our Provident God and the loved ones who preceded her in death. While we will miss her, we believe that she will continue to be here for us. “There is a giving which will not impoverish and a withholding that will not enrich,” Sister Danielle concluded.
The Mass of Christian Burial for Sister Dorothy McLaughlin was held June 21, 2013 in the Church of the Immaculate Conception at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods with the Rev. Daniel Hopcus presiding..
We invite you to share your memories of Sister Dorothy in the comments section below.
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