sister dorothy mary meirink
January 19, 1926 - July 28, 2011
Always willing to be of service
If there was ever a sister who exemplified St. Joseph it was Sister Dorothy Meirink. She was humble, quiet and always willing to be of service, especially if she knew that no one would take note of her.
S. Dorothy was born on January 19, 1926, in Belleville, Ill. There was great rejoicing the day she was born because as the eighth child born to Henry John and Marie Wirsching Meirink, she was the second girl. The first little girl, named Dorothy, died at age seven. The family dedicated this new child to the Blessed Mother and gave her the name Dorothy Mary. Dorothy had six older brothers and three younger sisters.
Her parents, hardworking, devout Catholics, felt the deprivation of the Depression years. Her father was a carpenter. After work he tended his large vegetable garden, sharing the use of some of his land with his neighbors in those difficult days. Her mother, too, provided for the family's needs by sewing all of their clothes. Her father had been a tailor and she inherited his talent with thread, needle and sewing machine.
Dorothy entered the community and received the habit and name S. Mary Maurice on August 15, 1950. Her ministry was elementary education starting with primary grades at Holy Rosary School in St. Louis. Two years later she went to St. Catherine of Siena School in Denver, Colo. There she loved going to the mountains to enjoy the grandeur of God's gifts.
In 1957 when she asked to make her final vows, she said, "I am by nature timid and sensitive, but I am earnestly trying to overcome this. Please permit me to consecrate my life forever as a Sister of St. Joseph." S. Joan Marie Gleason, her superior at St. Margaret's at the time, said, "Although she is capable and a fine primary teacher, she finds it difficult to appear in public. She never allows this trouble to hinder her work in any way and has proved very helpful in training new lay teachers in our school. This ‘giving of herself' to help others is a gift to all of us."
The onset of Parkinson's disease around 1973 necessitated that she leave formal classroom teaching, but she embraced a new endeavor, helping children with learning disabilities. With her skill as a reading specialist, coupled with her quiet, gentle manner, she put them at ease and helped them to learn in spite of their difficulties.
Eventually a whole new world opened up for her when she was invited to be part of the archives staff at Carondelet, at a time when much archival data needed to be entered into computer. S. Charline Sullivan said S. Dorothy was also very detailed and efficient in coding and recording documents. She loved reading the preserved documents and used that knowledge and her giftedness in writing many articles about our early sisters, sharing them with us in the PNN.
When S. Jane Behlmann came to the archives office in 2004 she said she got to know her value quite soon. "I could not have survived the first year without S. Dorothy's organization, keeping up the databases, entering new accessions, coding and filing them. In other words, she made me look good. I was always amazed and envious of her writing skills. Dorothy and I shared a birthday month just two days apart. We had a special celebration in archives for Dorothy's eightieth birthday and she later said that it was the first birthday party she ever had."
She felt blessed to be at Nazareth, grateful for extended prayer time and attendance at daily Mass. One of her goals was to write her autobiography. Unfortunately she did not accomplish that. But what she did accomplish was sharing herself with others so that as they came to know her, they came to love and respect her more and more each day.
Now she is being embraced by the great love of God. Her suffering is over. Her time of dancing has begun. May she rest in peace.
S. Kathleen Karbowski
S. Rita Louise Huebner
S. Charline Sullivan