Dorothy Owen, RSCJ

Birth: April 21, 1935
Profession: Feb. 4, 1964
Death: April 2, 2015

Religious of the Sacred Heart Dorothy Owen died Thursday, April 2, at Oakwood, the Society of the Sacred Heart’s elder care center in Atherton, California. Following years as a teacher, she served for twenty-five years at the Church of Christ the King Parish in Silver Spring, Maryland. Her life will be celebrated in a Mass of Christian Burial at Oakwood on Saturday, April 11 at 10:00 AM. Burial will be at the cemetery at Oakwood.

Dorothy Anne Owen was born April 21, 1935 in Oakland, California, one of twelve children of Raymond and Dorothy Maguire Owen. She was preceded in death by her parents and sisters Angela Owen, Alice Owen and Helen Owen Campbell. She is survived by sisters Marie L. Owen of Emeryville, California; Cathy (Alan) Gaynor of San Francisco; Christine Owen of Redwood City, California; Theresa Owen and Michael Shadwick of San Rafael, California; Mary Ann (Gary) Houston of Grants Pass, Oregon; and brothers John (Colleen) Owen of Clayton, California; Jim (Mary) Owen of Walnut Creek, California, and Ray (Lorraine) Owen of Lansdowne, Virginia and many nieces, nephews, grand-nieces and grand-nephews.

Sister Owen entered the Society of the Sacred Heart at the Kenwood Convent in Albany, New York on August 13, 1955. She professed her first vows February 17, 1958 at Kenwood and made her final profession at the Society of the Sacred Heart motherhouse in Rome on February 4, 1964.

Sister Owen began her education ministry in 1958 at the Convent of the Sacred Heart boarding school in El Cajon, California. From 1958 to 1963, she taught at Convent of the Sacred Heart in Menlo Park. Following her final profession, she returned to Menlo, then went to Stuart Hall School for Boys in San Francisco, where she taught and served as director of studies until 1972. She returned to Menlo, to what was then called St. Joseph’s School, where she taught until 1980. She was known as an exceptional elementary school teacher. Throughout these years, Sister Owen spent many summers as director of day camps for young children in San Francisco and Seattle.

Sister Owen entered the Ministries Development Program of the Washington Theological Union in 1980, and in 1982, she began her ministry as a pastoral associate at St. Hugh’s Parish in Greenbelt, Maryland. In 1986, she became pastoral associate and director of religious education for the Church of Christ the King in Silver Spring, Maryland. She remained in this position until 2011 when her declining health necessitated leaving the parish she loved.

Sister Owen seemed always to have known joy and suffering are a part of everyone's life. She was always quietly attentive to the joys, triumphs, failures, needs, and sufferings without needing to call much attention to herself. In a large family like Dotty’s, someone, or several, are always on the "front-burner" of concern – so too, in a large immigrant parish like Christ the King, in Silver Spring, Maryland where Dotty serve for twenty-five years. But Sister Owen was one of those who preferred to be on the "back burners" focusing on the needs of those who were celebrating or struggling.  

If something needed to be done, Dotty would do it. For example, at Christ the King, she would solicit and receive furniture and clothing, all the while making certain those goods went out to a needy family as soon as they came in. At Christ the King, families were always arriving from Africa or Central America with nothing. Making sure they had the beds and cribs and housewares as soon as possible was a particular priority for Dotty.

When someone was sick, she would visit. When someone asked for prayers, she would follow up faithfully.


Submitted by Michael Athanasiou on

Sister Owen was my 3rd grade teacher in 1964-65 at Stuart Hall. 3rd grade really sticks out in my memory more than the other years because of her. Early in that school year, the parents of our class were called in for a meeting regarding our less than stellar performance, and were read the riot act. The result was an increased workload for us, with Sister Owen cracking the whip. I especially remember on top of the extra homework, we had to memorize so many poems as well. One was "I must go down to the sea again" by John Masefield and another was based on an English nursery rhyme "Oranges and Lemons" about the bells of London churches talking. It's funny looking back (my goodness, where did those 50 years go?) how certain memories are burned in & clear.

Sister Owen was a real taskmaster. It was a hard year, yet I remember at the time feeling that what she was doing was challenging us, and that there was love behind it, she really cared.

After all these years, I still remember it clearly; and as the years have gone by, my appreciation for what she did for us has grown. Thank you so much Sister Owen!

Submitted by Julie Glockner ... on

Sister Owen was my 4th grade teacher at St. Joseph's, Atherton in 1977. I do remember her being strict, but the love behind what she did was so evident. That year we studied the New Testament and I remember having an "aha" moment when Jesus asks us to follow him. I took that as a personal invitation and saw the love of Christ in Sister Owen. I wanted to emulate her. Just a year ago February I heard that Sister Owen was back at Oakwood and I sought her out. We met on a Saturday afternoon. I had been doing some soul searching and because of our visit, I was put in touch with coordinator for the Menlo Associates Group. I can thank Sister Owen for directing me to the Associates and now I can share in the charism of the RSCJ and share in the deep spirituality that she embodied.