Mary was born in New York City on June 26th, 1925 to Mary (Burnell) Leonard and Anthony Leonard; she was baptized as Anne Therese. She had one brother, Edward who has predeceased her.
In 1943, Mary graduated from Bishop McDonnell Memorial High School in Brooklyn, NY and then studied at Fordham School of Education from 1944-1945. She entered the Maryknoll Sisters Novitiate in Maryknoll, NY on September 6th, 1945 from St. Francis Assisi Parish in Astoria, NY (Diocese of Brooklyn). At her Reception into the Congregation she received the religious name, Sister Doretta. She made her First Profession of Vows on March 7th, 1948 at the Maryknoll Sisters Center in NY and her Final Profession on March 7th, 1951 in China.
In 1948, Sister Doretta received her first overseas mission assignment to China, not knowing she would serve there for the next 50 years on and off. She first arrived to Wuchow, China to study language for one year and then began her ministry in catechetical work in 1950. The political situation in Wuchow required Sister Doretta to transfer to Hong Kong, there she continued her work as a catechist until 1968. She then returned to the Maryknoll Sisters Center in NY to study at Mary Rogers College, earning a Bachelor of Science Degree in Adult Education in 1970. After earning her degree, Sister Doretta returned to Hong Kong to continue doing catechetical work until 1977. From 1977-1980, she was assigned to the Development Department at the Maryknoll Sisters Center in NY.
In 1980, Sister Doretta became a parish team member at St. Stephen’s Church, where she did Pastoral ministry in Hong Kong for the next nine years. In 1989, she was assigned to do congregational service at the Maryknoll Sisters Center in NY, serving as receptionist and working in the Congregational Archives Department.
Sister Doretta once again returned to China in 1992 to do pastoral work; first in Macau until 1995 and then transferring to Hong Kong where she did part-time volunteer work visiting the sick and elderly. In 2005, she returned to the Maryknoll Sisters Center in NY to retire, but remained an active volunteer serving as a member of the Pastoral Care Team.
A Vespers service will be held for Sister Mary Doretta at 4:15 p.m. in the Chapel of the Assumption on Thursday, November 29, 2018 at the Maryknoll Sisters Center.
A funeral Mass will follow on Friday, November 30, 2018 at 11:00 a.m. also in the Main Chapel at the Center.
Interment will follow in the Maryknoll Sisters Cemetery on the Center grounds.