Sister Dorothea Newell, 85, the 10th superior general of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Chestnut Hill, died Saturday, April 27, after a long illness at St. Joseph Villa in Flourtown.
A city native, Sister Dorothea entered the religious community from St. Rose of Lima Parish in 1952. She had been known as Sister Ignatius Loyola but chose to revert to her baptismal name after the Second Vatican Council.
The daughter of Michael and Ellen Newell, she was one of eight children. Four of her siblings also chose a religious life.
Sister Dorothea brought multiple apostolic experiences to her position as superior general, which is like the presidency of a religious community. Before her 1979 election, she led convents at the local and regional levels.
She was active for many years in elementary schools in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, including as a teacher at Ascension School in Philadelphia. She was principal of St. Kevin School in Springfield, Delaware County, and a teacher at Wildwood Catholic High School.
She also taught at Holy Family Academy in Bayonne, N.J., and was vice principal of John Carroll School in Bel Air, Md.
Sister Dorothea worked on the Sisters of St. Joseph novitiate formation program, and with the order's center to which clerics and lay people may go for spiritual guidance.
She earned a bachelor's degree from Marquette University in 1952 and a master's degree from Seton Hall University in 1963, both in English literature.
Among Sister Dorothea's accomplishments as superior general was leading a comprehensive study of the ministries of the Sisters of St. Joseph, titled "Project Withdrawal, Recommitment."
"Her great foresight brought about a collaborative effort of sisters, pastors, school administrators, and parishioners in assessing the long-term viability of the congregational commitment to each parish," said Sister Mary Dacey, congregational vice president for the Sisters of St. Joseph.
Following her time as superior general, she served as pastoral minister in Harrisburg and Philadelphia. She retired to St. Joseph Villa in 2009.
Surviving are brothers Michael and James; sisters Eleanor Hofkes, Sister Catherine Newell, and Sister Ann Newell; and nieces and nephews.
A visitation will be at 1 p.m. Friday, May 10, followed by a 3 p.m. memorial liturgy service at St. Joseph Villa, 110 W. Wissahickon Ave., Flourtown, Pa. 19031. Interment is private.
Donations may be made to St. Joseph Villa.