Dorothy was born on November 11, 1924, on a farm in St. Lawrence, Wisconsin, to Edwin and Margaret Weiss. She was the second oldest of seven children: three boys, Wilbert, Edwin, and Anthony; and 4 girls, Dorothy, Lucille, Helen, and Mary Ann.
Dorothy told us of one of her first memories at age five. She and her older brother Wilbert, who was seven, would be traveling together to school, which was two miles from home. Their dad wanted to make the trip to school easier for his children, so he harnessed a goat to a small wagon. Together, brother and sister left the barnyard and began traveling down the country road to school. All went well until they came to a steep hill and the goat stopped. No amount of yelling would make the goat climb the hill. Wilbert climbed out of the wagon and turned the goat toward home. Without further prompting, the goat headed back to the barn as if nothing had happened.
The family grew and all of them had special tasks on the farm. All the children attended St. Lawrence Catholic School in St. Lawrence, having teachers from the Congregation of St. Agnes and the School Sisters of St. Francis. Dorothy recalled that as children, she and her sister Lucille would play and pretend that they were religious sisters. Although Dorothy was the older girl, her sister Lucille was the first to enter the School Sisters of St. Francis. Dorothy was considering joining the Agnesians, but seeing how happy her sister Lucille was, Dorothy decided to join the School Sisters of St. Francis at St. Joseph Convent in 1942.
Dorothy and her sister Lucille were received together on June 13, 1943. Dorothy received the name Sister Fulgence and Lucille, Sister Wilfrida. What a family celebration! In 1971, less than 30 years later, Sister Lucille’s sudden death was very hard for Sister Dorothy and the whole family.
Sister Fulgence (Dorothy) became a homemaker and mission life began in 1945 at St. Philomena’s in Chicago, then on to missions in Wisconsin, including St. Joseph Hospital in Waupun, and twice at St. Joseph Convent in Campbellsport. Sister Fulgence was a wonderful homemaker. Besides preparing delicious meals, her joyful presence made a happy home for all the sisters.
Vatican II brought changes to religious life. Sister Fulgence went back to her baptismal name and then, after 34 years as a homemaker, decided to retire and train to become a beautician. After training, Sister Dorothy began the hair care department at Campbellsport and for the next 16 years she cut, permed, and curled the sisters’ hair. In 1996, Sister Dorothy retired at Campbellsport. As part of her ministry of prayer and presence she assisted in caring for the chapel at Campbellsport for the next 17 years.
During these years, Sister Dorothy was diagnosed with oral cancer. After surgeries, her acceptance and uncomplaining tolerance of the discomfort of prolonged therapy was notable. Sister Dorothy carried this cross with strength and grace.
In 2015, when Campbellsport closed, Sister Dorothy retired to St. Joseph Convent, Milwaukee. She really enjoyed her year being back where she started and praying in the Adoration Chapel. As things changed at the Motherhouse, Sister Dorothy chose to come to Sacred Heart. There, all her needs could be met as her health changed.
In April 2018, Sister Dorothy celebrated her 75th Jubilee as a School Sister of St. Francis. It was a day of great gratitude for Sister Dorothy, her family, and friends.
Sister Dorothy, we are grateful for your 79 years of faithful Franciscan living and your joyful caring spirit shared with everyone. Now, receive your reward as God’s good and faithful servant.