Sister Dorothy Bunce CHI Mercy Health, Valley City
Sister Dorothy began her life at the hands of her midwife grandmother who delivered her. A premie from birth, she was wrapped in cotton, fed with a medicine-dropper and placed near the furnace by her mother. From this incubator of sorts, she survived and struggled for life.
A Harvey native, she had exposure to the Sisters of the Presentation who taught school, nursed in the hospital, and served in the nursing home there. Her religious mother reminded her that her life had been saved for a purpose that Dorothy should pray about. Her prayer brought her to those Sisters of Mary of the Presentation in Valley City, North Dakota, where she has been a member for sixty years. Her ministry throughout those years has included teaching elementary grades in Princeton, Illinois, as well as junior high English, literature, and American history at St. Catherine’s School in Valley City. Within her religious community, Sister Dorothy has served as Vocation Directress and Provincial Leader.
In 1983 Sister Dorothy received her master’s degree in Christian spirituality. Since that time she has led retreats and continues to offer spiritual direction at Maryvale, Valley City. Her journey to hospital chaplaincy began when she responded to CHI Mercy Health’s opening for a part-time position. Hired in 2010, she has been the Spiritual Care Leader at CHI Mercy Health.
Since that time, Sister Dorothy has found challenges in having a dual ministry. As chaplain, she tries to be available for callback time. Being a retreat director or involved in some event at Maryvale makes that balancing act difficult. She tries to visit or be present in an emergency, or be a comfort to a grieving family member.
Keith Heuser, president of CHI Mercy Health, makes the following comments on Sister Dorothy’s chaplaincy: “Sister Dorothy has been an incredible blessing to this facility. She touches every patient and family who comes here. She is attentive to the whole person, not just to the injury or illness that brought them here. She has an incredible compassion for the sick and marginalized, being the first one to offer help wherever it is needed. She can go from helping a child of a patient understand what is going on, to praying with someone who has no family, to helping a dying patient be more comfortable with their transition. On top of all this, she is a joy to be around. Her humor, hearty laugh and the ability to embrace any challenge make her a precious and essential part of our everyday activities here. She truly brings the love of Jesus to work every day and we are the beneficiaries!”
In her spare time, Sister Dorothy enjoys playing cards, reading detective mysteries, listening to tunes from musicals, and spending time with her community of Sisters.