Sister Madeline Maria Dorsey, M.M.
Current Ministry Location-Maryknoll Sisters Center
Dorothy Dorsey, born in Brooklyn, New York, entered Maryknoll Sisters on December 8, 1936. She took the name of Sister Madeline Maria. Her friends call her “Maddie.”
Sister Maddie’s years as a missioner have taken her far afield. In 1945, with her training as a nurse, Sister Maddie served in Riberalta, Bolivia, helping to set up a jungle hospital, and in Kandy, Ceylon, as a nursing supervisor in a government hospital. In 1955, ten years before the Civil Rights Act banned racial discrimination in the workplace, Maddie and a team of Maryknoll Sisters opened the first racially-integrated hospital, Queen of the World Hospital, in Kansas City, MO. In the 1965’s “Bloody Sunday,” the first attempt African-Americans made to march from Selma to Montgomery, AL, in an effort to pressure President Lyndon B. Johnson and Congress to enact a new national voting rights law, Sister Madeline and another Maryknoll Sister were placed on the front lines of that march, representing the Black doctors who worked with them at Queen of the World Hospital, the nation’s first interracial hospital, located in Kansas City, MO. From 1966-1971, Sister Maddie served as an obstetric nurse and cared for premature infants in Puno, Peru.
Sister Maddie’s most impressionable mission was from 1976-1981 in El Salvador during the tumultuous civil war years. She lived in one of the poorest areas of the country and when the killing began, she comments, “We spent a lot of time simply accompanying people in their grief.”
When the four churchwomen, lay missioner Jean Donovan, Sisters Dorothy Kazel, Ita Ford and Maura Clarke were killed by National Guardsmen in 1980, Sisters Maddie and Terry Alexander identified them. In 1981 when the Salvadoran Church and government authorities said the safety of the Sisters could not be assured, they reluctantly left the country. During the next seven years Maddie and Terry worked in Guatemala City and Yucatan, Mexico, until Maddie and other Sisters were able to return to El Salvador in 1988.
Returning to the Maryknoll Sisters Center in 1992, Maddie ministered to the elderly Sisters and did outreach among the poor in Ossining, NY. She continues her solidarity efforts with the people of El Salvador and with groups who oppose Military torture and violence. Sister Maddie celebrated her 80th anniversary as a Maryknoll Sister in 2016.