Sister Dorothy Ann Whelan, OSU

Wake Reflection for Sister Dorothy Ann Whelan, OSU

In the name of the community, the Ursuline Sisters of Mount Saint Joseph, I offer our love and sympathy to Sister Dorothy Ann’s family and friends, especially to you, Sister Mary Emily, her sister. To the health care and pastoral care staff, our respect and deepest appreciation. To Sister’s classmates, Sisters Mary Beatrice, Blanche Rita, and Charles Irene, our heartfelt sympathy.Jesus said to Sister Dorothy Ann, as he says to each of us: “I came that you may have life.” Many, many years ago Cardinal Newman, in reflecting on that promise of

Jesus, said: “Fear not that life should come to an end, but rather that it should never have a beginning.” We watched as Sister Dorothy Ann’s life unfolded through the years. She enjoyed, suffered, struggled, created, loved. Her life carressed and permeated things and people. Her life joined with other lives, resulting in a new and marvelous vitality. Foremost and fundamental her life, as does each individual life, remains an enigma, incapable of being interpreted or explained. What we do know are merely snippets of a full and meaningful life of ninety years, seventy-two of which were consecrated to God as an Ursuline Sister of Mount Saint Joseph.

Sister Dorothy Ann was born Dorothy Cecelia on April 14,1912, one of nine children in the family of Nicholas Leake and Mary Adalaid (Addle) Boone Whelan. She wrote: “I am a Howardstown, Kentucky native with roots in Maryland.” Dorothy Cecelia’s elementary and high school years were spent at Howardstown Public School taught by Ursuline Sisters of Mount Saint Joseph, who came in 1919. Seeds of consecrated religious life were planted and nurtured in the heart and mind of Dorothy Cecelia. On September 8, 1930, at the age of 18, Dorothy Cecelia entered the postulancy program of the community of Ursuline Sisters of Mount Saint Joseph; received the name of Sister Dorothy Ann on March 19, 1931; professed temporary vows on March 20, 1933; and professed perpetual vows on March 20, 1936.

Sister Dorothy Ann’s first experience of educational ministry was with 65 young children in grades 1-4 at Little Saint Joe in Marion County in September 1933. She was both organist and choir director. Sister writes: “In those years before the Council of Vatican Il, we taught Latin for the Masses, including the Requiem, to the grade school children. Many years I had the adult choir, many of whom were older than I.” Sister Dorothy Ann’s years of teaching and administration brought her to schools in the Diocese of Owensboro and the Archdiocese of Louisville in Kentucky; and to Nebraska at Saint Benedict School in Nebraska City, and Saint John School in Plattsmouth.

While perusing the archival file of Sister Dorothy Ann, my eyes fell on one particular letter among the many certificates of achievement and recognition. The letter was written at the time of Sister’s retirement from the public school system in Marion County in 1977 by Superintendent of Schools Mr. Robert L. Robertson. It reads in part: “I wish to take this opportunity to express my sincere appreciation for the dedication, the wholesome influence, and the many worthwhile achievements which have been associated with your career. Having had you on the educational team has been a real pleasure.”

In 1993 after 49 years of teaching in schools, eight years as librarian, and five years in parish ministry, Sister Dorothy Ann came to the motherhouse where she served as one of the organists, and as librarian in Mount Saint Joseph Conference and Retreat Center for the next three years. At that particular time, Sister Dorothy Ann wrote: “God has been good to me. I had many healthy and happy years.”

In late afternoon on February 25, 2003, surrounded by her loving and caring Ursuline Sisters; her own sister, Sister Mary Emily; and members of the health care staff, Sister Dorothy Ann looked into the eyes of Love and found true peace. What mystery here, Sister Dorothy Ann, incomprehensible to our finite minds. To look into the eyes of Love, and see God looking back!

Sister Rose Marita
Congregational Leader 2000-2004
February 27, 2003