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Benedictine Sister Mary Dorothy passes: A welcoming and gracious Sister

Benedictine Sister Mary Dorothy passes: A welcoming and gracious Sister - (05-08-2019)

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Benedictine Sister of Perpetual Adoration Mary Dorothy Kordick, OSB, died on Aug. 1, 2019. She was 97 years old.

She was born Frances Anna on Oct. 31, 1921, on the family farm in Winterset, Iowa. She was the third of nine children born to Leo and Anna (Schreiner) Kordick.

Frances’ early years included precious time with a large extended family of grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins, making homemade ice cream with her siblings, stealing away to find a private moment with a book, playing softball and hiking. The family attended Mass on Sunday, which sometimes proved difficult. In the rain, they would take their horse and buggy two miles on the muddy road to the main road where they left their car so that they could drive the rest of the way to church.

Winterset did not have a Catholic school. The children enjoyed a two-week catechism session each summer taught by the Sisters of Humility of Mary from Ottumwa, Iowa. It was there that a religious vocation might have formed in young Frances Anna.

“The beginning of my desire to become a Sister came during my seventh- and eighth-grade years. I was so intrigued with the Sisters and their lives,” she said. She graduated high school near the top of her class in 1939.

Frances was familiar with the Benedictine Sisters because she had read their congregational magazine and enjoyed the articles on being a Eucharistic Adorer. She visited family in Clyde, Missouri, in 1940.

“When I first heard the convent bells, I wondered what was going on,” she recalled. “I went up the hill to the chapel and saw the Blessed Sacrament exposed. I fell in love and knew this was the place for me. I wanted to enter but had to wait because of my responsibilities on the farm.”

Five years later, near the end of World War II, she bought a one-way train ticket to Clyde, arrived at the depot at 3 a.m. and was driven to the monastery. She entered on July 15, 1945, and made her first monastic profession on Feb. 15, 1947, receiving the name Sister Mary Dorothy, which means “gift of God.” She took her final vows on Feb. 21, 1952.

“My love for the Divine Office and adoration grew,” she said. “As a student in the school of the Lord’s service, I learned a different way of life.”

Her early duties in the monastery included kitchen work. One of her first tasks was to break 80 eggs for a meal, a feat that seemed strange until she realized just how many mouths they had to feed. She transferred to the Tucson, Arizona, monastery in 1954 and grew to love the desert, mountains, sun and local flora, which was so much different than her beloved Midwest.

She served as subprioress of the monastery in Kansas City, Missouri, and then returned to Clyde to assist with renovations in the altar bread department. Once again back in Kansas City, she worked in the bookbinding department. She remembered with great fondness the Consecration of Virgins in 1962, “because it was such a deeply outstanding spiritual experience.”

After Vatican Council II, Sister Mary Dorothy enjoyed something she hadn’t experienced in over 20 years: a visit to her family home.

“In 1945, we had the understanding that we’d never visit our homes again,” she said. “My first home visit was in 1968 and what a revelation it was! How precious those visits were over the years as our family grew in numbers and grace.”

It was in the monastery she became closer to her biological sister, Rose, who was only 12 when Frances left for Clyde. Rose had grown up, entered the Sisters of St. Francis of Assisi in Milwaukee and was assigned to Tucson years ago where she remains to this day. When Sister Mary Dorothy was once again transferred to the Tucson monastery in 1970, it allowed the two sisters to get to know each other as adults and to work together on the genealogy of their family.

Sister Mary Dorothy served as portress; as Kansas City and Tucson subprioress; she also worked in the altar bread department and assisted in the finance office. She served as director of oblates for almost 30 years, a position from which she derived much joy. She directed the correspondence department for years, becoming proficient on the computer and databases. She continued assisting with correspondence work after she no longer managed the department. She once said, “I’ve had a whole variety of jobs. If at first I didn’t know anything about something, I learned myself into it.”

Sister Mary Dorothy moved to Our Lady of Rickenbach, the Sisters’ healthcare facility, in 2009. She enjoyed reading, doing crossword puzzles, meditatively drawing mandalas, fishing in the pond and playing card games. She loved rides through the countryside. She once said, “When the green corn leaves are waving their branches in the air it is like watching the ocean.”

Sister Mary Dorothy was a welcoming and gracious sister. After 75 years of monastic life, she reflected that she was filled with a “deep gratitude for all his goodness and care. He has been so good to me. I look forward to the rest of Jesus’ promise, that of life everlasting.”

She is survived by her sisters, Theresa and Sister Rose Kordick, OSF; her brother, Charles, and his wife, Berta; and many nieces, nephews, cousins and her monastic family.

Sister Mary Dorothy’s vigil was Aug. 4 with her Funeral Mass and burial at Mt. Calvary Cemetery on Aug. 5, 2019.