In Memoriam: Sister Dorothy Elizabeth Daiger

Sister Dorothy Elizabeth Daiger

Dorothy Elizabeth Daiger

October 4, 1930 - July 27, 2019


Dorothy Elizabeth, the older of two daughters born to Harry Earl and Philomena Ann Haberlander Daiger, was born in Baltimore, Md., on October 4, 1930. Dorothy was baptized at St. Ann’s Church, Baltimore. Her sister, Barbara Ann, was born eight years later.  Dorothy attended St. Ann’s School from first through third grade and was taught by the School Sisters of Notre Dame.  She received her first Holy Communion at St. Ann’s Church in May 1938.  

In 1939, the Daiger family moved to Towson.  Dorothy attended Immaculate Conception School from fourth through seventh grade.  She was confirmed by the Rt. Rev. John M. McNamara, auxiliary bishop of Baltimore, in 1941.  By 1943, Dorothy had completed the grammar school course and entered Towson Catholic High School.  She graduated from Towson Catholic in 1947 and became a student at the College of Notre Dame of Maryland  (now University), where she majored in English and completed requirements for teaching. Dorothy was active in writing for the literary magazine and yearbook.  She had an assistantship in Fourier Library during her college years.

Writing of her vocation in her autobiography, Dorothy said, “While in college I had no intention of entering the convent until the Christmas vacation of my senior year.”  She spent that vacation traveling with a friend who was planning to become a Sister of Charity.  She said, “It was on that trip that I began to consider the religious life for myself.  By the end of the holidays, I had made up my mind.”

Dorothy graduated from Notre Dame College in June 1951 and received the bonnet at Notre Dame in August.  As a candidate, she taught freshmen at the Institute of Notre Dame. Dorothy said of her time in the candidature, “As I have grown to know and love God more, I have become daily more thankful for my vocation.”
Dorothy entered the novitiate on July 16, 1952 and was given the name, Harriet Marie.  Sister Harriet Marie professed her first vows on July 24, 1953.  Her first mission as a professed sister was in the elementary grades at Immaculate Conception School in Malden, Mass. (1953-57) and later taught junior high classes at St. Jerome School, Baltimore (1957-60). 
With the exception of a few other years as a classroom teacher, Dorothy spent her career of almost 60 years as a librarian and archivist.  She worked in libraries associated with SSND schools, i.e. Notre Dame of Maryland University; Notre Dame Prep School; the Institute of Notre Dame; and Sisters’ Academy, all in Baltimore, as well as St. Mary School, Bryantown, Md., and St. Peter School, Philadelphia, knew the touch of Dorothy’s expertise in establishing and updating libraries and leading the way in audio-visual education.   In later years, she was called to Our Lady of Refuge School, Eagle Pass, Texas as teacher and librarian (1997- 2003).  Returning to Baltimore, Dorothy juggled multiple jobs in the province archives, the library at Sisters’ Academy, and at Villa Assumpta, where she shared her vast knowledge of SSND heritage with the sisters (2003-17). 

Dorothy had a keen mind.  She was gentle and humble with a serene manner.  She was always gracious. Dorothy was devoted to the culture of her native city, from attending the symphony and art exhibits to enjoying movies projected on a brick wall in Little Italy. In retirement at Villa Assumpta, Dorothy found success as a champion bowler.  

Dorothy lived her vocation well.  She had a particular devotion to religious poverty and was in love with the Lord. In her autobiography, Dorothy wrote, “I gradually realized that the best and happiest people I knew were those closest to God. I learned that the only way to accomplish any lasting good is to save one’s soul and help others to do the same.”  A fellow teacher gave a fitting tribute to Dorothy when she said, “I will forever smile when I think of Sister Dorothy.” 

In addition to the Bachelor of Arts degree in English that Dorothy received in 1951 from the College of Notre Dame of Maryland (now University), she also obtained a Master of Science in Library Science from the Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C. in 1968.

A Christian Wake Service was held on Thurs., Aug. 1, 2019.  The Liturgy of Christian Burial was celebrated on Friday, Aug. 2. by Rev. John McCloskey, OFM, Cap.  The Communion meditation, “Panis Angelicus.” was sung by Sister Dorothy’s nephew, Greg Sarjeant.  Interment followed at Villa Maria Cemetery, Glen Arm Rd., Glen Arm, Md.  Sister Dorothy is survived by her sister, Barbara, and her nephews, Gregory and Christopher Sarjeant. 
-Jeanne Hildenbrand SSND

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