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Former St. Michael principal and IHM sister dies at 81

Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary Sister Dorothy M. Mayer (formerly Sister Mary Annunciata) died Oct. 17 at age 81. She was a longtime principal of St. Michael School in Annandale.

Sister Dorothy was born May 13, 1940, in Philadelphia. She grew up attending St. Athanasius Church in Philadelphia with her parents William and Helen Mayer and her brother, Bill. She attended St. Athanasius grade school and Little Flower High School, where she graduated in 1958. She later earned degrees from Immaculata University in East Whiteland Township, Pa., and St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Wynnewood, Pa.

Sister Dorothy entered the IHM Congregation Feb. 11, 1959; she received her habit and her religious name, Sister Mary Annunciata, Aug.17, 1959; and pronounced her first vows Aug. 17, 1961. For the next three decades, she taught and served as administrator in several Catholic schools.

Sister Dorothy served as principal at St. Michael School from 1996 to 2006. At her farewell party in 2006, Father Paul Dudzinski, pastor of St. Michael, said she had “a passion for learning and a passion for children.”

 “All that you’ve done will reverberate through the walls for years to come,” he told her, according to an article in the Catholic Herald.

Sister Dorothy thanked attendees for their support and care over the years. “A school could not be first-rate without wonderful children,” she said. “You have great children, I thank you for that.” She reflected on her 10 years at St. Michael saying that she hoped in times of social instability, such as Sept. 11, 2001, and the sniper crisis in the fall of 2002, that she did her best to keep students strong and calm.

As a farewell gift, St. Michael’s PTO and school community presented her with a laptop to aid her in her new position as a high school administrator in Philadelphia.

She continued to work in schools and convents until 2020, when she went to live in the community’s Camilla Hall, a nursing home in Malvern, Pa. She died after a bout with cancer. The Mass of Christian burial was offered Oct. 23.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2021