As a young child, Mary Hope watched her young English-born mother face huge challenges on this isolated farm surrounded by beautiful native forest and dominated by the swift flowing Wanganui River. The house was small with no running water and primitive cooking and laundry facilities which added to the daily chores. Her mother also had full responsibility for the children’s correspondence education. Mary and her siblings quickly learnt that the farm was vital to the family income and to help her father the children were allotted daily duties according to age and capabilities. The family bonds between brothers and sisters were strong and this carried through into adulthood.
At the age of twelve, Mary experienced a life changing event which followed her time spent with the Sisters of Compassion in Jerusalem for catechetical lessons in preparation for receiving the Sacraments of Eucharist and Confirmation. She was captivated by their lifestyle and friendship and often spoke about the impression the visit had on her young mind. The seed of her religious vocation was planted. With her parent’s blessing, Mary at the age of 16 embarked on her long and dedicated life of 74 years as a Sister of Compassion.
Following her Profession, Mary, now Sister Dorothea, was given the opportunity to train as a nurse. This was interrupted when she went to Jerusalem to replace a Sister who had become ill. Life at Jerusalem had similarities to her home life, cows to milk before and after school classes, cutting of firewood, the feeding of hens and attending to the Iarge vegetable garden. Teaching during the day and supervising the Boarders in the evening became routine work for Dorothea. Her energy and enthusiasm as a teacher and her love for the children brought lasting friendships. At the Annual Camps, Easter Hui and School Sports Days she was known to mix fun and religious instruction in a successful way.
During 1958, Dorothea was appointed to the Special Needs School, attached to St Raphael’s Home of Compassion in Carterton. While the physical needs of the children were well catered for the school also gave recognition to their learning abilities. During 1965, Dorothea gained a Diploma of Special Education from Sydney University. In 1981, the Year of the Disabled, Dorothea accompanied a group of children to Lourdes and Rome.
Following a 30 day retreat, Dorothea became involved in the Māori Ministry in Flaxmere and Castlecliffe where her knowledge of Maori culture and spirituality took her on another successful journey.
Sister Dorothea received the Queen Service Award in 1997 during a ceremony at Government House. In 2001, Sister Dorothea was given the Papal Honour Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice; both Awards gave recognition for her commitment, zeal and dedication in Church and public life. The acceptance of illness and frailty in later years was a struggle for Dorothea. Faithfully supported by the Sisters, her family and numerous friends she was well prepared for the final call. The Congregational Motto ‘Love in Sacrifice’ was a living expression of her life.
Born Entered Professed Died Place of Death Place of Burial
14.09.923 27.01.1940 19.03.1943 12.12.2013 Wanganui Ranana
Sister Dorothea’s story on video.