Sister Dorothy Beck, A.C.J.

Sister Dorothy Beck, a Handmaid of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, died May 6 at age 87.

In her 63 years of religious life she served in many capacities including as a teacher, religious education coordinator, principal, administrator, retreat center director, community superior and provincial superior.

A native of Philadelphia, Sister Dorothy was born to Ernest and Dorothy Beck, the eldest of five children, including Ernie (who later played for the National Basketball Association), James, John and Miriam. She was a graduate of Most Blessed Sacrament Grade School and West Philadelphia Catholic High School, where she was named into the Alumni Hall of Fame. She entered the Handmaids of the Sacred Heart of Jesus on Dec. 8, 1954.

Sister Dorothy began her teaching career in Baltimore, and her first assignment in the Philadelphia area was at Ancilla Domini Academy (ADA), the Handmaid school in Germantown.  In 1964 she was assigned the seventh- and eighth-grade religion teacher at Assumpta Academy in Wyncote, formerly the boys’ school of what is now Ancillae-Assumpta Academy. She became principal of Assumpta Academy in 1966 until the schools merged in 1969.


Known as Mother Dorothy to generations of Ancillae-Assumpta students, she will be remembered warmly for her gentle and welcoming spirit.

Sister Dorothy was the Handmaids’ provincial superior of the United States Province and also served as local superior in three communities in the United States: Wyncote, Miami and Haverford. In addition to her community and educational responsibilities, Sister Dorothy also served as Coordinator of Mission Effectiveness and initiated and facilitated the ACJ Associates program in Wyncote. She also facilitated the ACJ Associates Program in Haverford.

During her tenure in Miami, Sister Dorothy served as the Director of Religious Education in Broward County, Florida, where she oversaw 42 parishes and three missions.

In Haverford – her most recent active ministry – she was the provincial superior, community superior and director of St. Raphaela Center until July 2016.

At center Sister Dorothy consistently brought her Handmaid hospitality and joy to more than 5,000 retreat participants each year. She took great delight in coordinating and planning programs, retreats and services that would enable participants to feel the healing and reparative power of Christ.

She loved to witness the spiritual development of those who sought guidance or enlightenment at the center. She was invigorated through the conversations and reflections individuals shared with her during and after their time at the center.

Sister Dorothy’s funeral Mass was celebrated May 11 at the St. Raphaela Center Chapel in Haverford. Interment followed at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery in Cheltenham.