Sister Dorothea Hudert



Current Ministry Location: Maryknoll Sisters Center-Maryknoll, NY

Sister Dorothea, a twin, was born September 9th, 1936 in Pompton Lakes, NJ, to Julia (Coffey) Hudert and John D. Hudert. At age 9 she moved with her parents, 4 sisters and 1 brother to Nome, AK, where her father had a

ccepted a job. At 15, her family moved again, this time to Juneau, where she attended Juneau High School, graduating in 1954. Sister Dorothea claims that growing up in Alaska was definitely preparation for the mission field.

She then attended Marylhurst College, Portland, OR, for two years before entering the Congregation on September 2nd , 1956 at the Maryknoll Sisters Center, Maryknoll, NY. Sister Dorothea pronounced First Vows June 24th, 1959 and Final Vows June 24th, 1965 both at the Sisters Center. After working in the offices of the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers in New York for two years, Sister Dorothea worked with children and adults in Boston’s Chinatown.

She earned a B.S. degree in Education from Good Counsel College, White Plains, NY, in 1967 and an M.A. and Certificate in Physical Therapy from New York University in 1970. During her years at NYU, she worked at both the Rusk Institute and Sloan Kettering Hospital.

In 1970, Sister Dorothea received her first overseas assignment to Tanzania, East Africa. After arriving, she began study if the Swahili Language. While she waited for a hospital under construction to be built, she took a course in Ethiopia to learn more about physiotherapy in relation to patients with Hansen’s disease (leprosy). She spent 18 years establishing physical therapy departments in three areas around Lake Victoria. One of her many accomplishments was with a nine year old Tanzanian boy, Pedro, crippled by polio who might never have been able to go to school as he could only crawl. Sister Dorothea’s hand-rigged polyester resin splint with leather straps custom-fitted to Pedro enabled him to stand up and walk over rocky ground to school.

Returning to the States, she did “reverse mission” sharing her African experiences with the U.S. sending church for three years and then returned to Tanzania, teaching physiotherapy techniques to nurses in government hospitals. She also worked with a Tanzanian physiotherapist to establish the first School of Physiotherapy in Tanzania.

Returning to Maryknoll Sisters Center, Maryknoll, NY in 1994, she served in the Immigration Office and also offered holistic alternative health care. On the west coast, she again shared mission insights in churches and schools.

In 2004, she was assigned from Tanzania to Namibia. a country that had suffered under apartheid and gained its independence in 1990. There she served as chaplain at the A. Bernard May Cancer Center, and for cancer patients in Central State Hospital. Cancer patients came from all over Namibia, she recalled, noting that she found it most difficult yet inspiring to hear children with cancer say, “When one is very sick, one of the other children sits with the child to keep that friend company.”

Sister Dorothea also worked with physically challenged children at the Oponganda Day Care Center in Windhoek, where the patients were from impoverished settlements in the area, and at the Lebenschule School for physically challenged children.

Besides having post graduate training in Physiotherapy, Sister Dorothea is a Reiki practitioner and T’ai Chi Chih instructor. She has used these techniques with teenagers of parents with AIDS, and practiced the same skills at a conference for adults with HIV who came from all over Namibia.

Sister Dorothea also gave workshops to AIDS Volunteers from Catholic Aids Action. She explained, having a social/fun time renewed their energy and desire to continue helping patients with AIDS in the villages around Windhoek.

In June 2015, the Maryknoll Sisters completed their work in Namibia, turning the operation of their services over to local practitioners.  Sister Dorothea returned to the Maryknoll Sisters Center in NY, and in early 2016 relocated to the Maryknoll Sisters Convent in Monrovia, CA. In 2019, due to health reasons, Sister returned to the Sisters Center in NY where she continues to reside.