TCA says farewell to beloved president, Sister Dorothy Payne

Serving as president of Trenton Catholic Academy has been Sister Dorothy’s pride and joy since 2005. In this photo, she happily accepts a gift from two Upper School graduating seniors during the 2017 commencement exercises. Monitor file photo


The community of Trenton Catholic Academy, Hamilton, is mourning the passing of its founding president, St. Joseph Sister Dorothy L. Payne, who died Feb. 3.

A viewing, followed by a Mass of Christian Burial was to be held Feb. 7 in St. Joseph Villa, Flourtown, Pa. A Memorial Mass for Sister Dorothy will be celebrated in Trenton Catholic Academy, 175 Leonard Ave., Hamilton, on Feb. 13 at 9 a.m., to which the community is invited.

“Sister Dorothy’s philosophy was to dream big and then work hard to make it a reality,” said Anne Reap, TCA’s Lower School director. “She had a strong relationship with the Lord and made sure service and good works were part of her daily life. She encouraged us all to be better.”

“Sister Dorothy walked by Catholic faith her entire life, and now through her faith she is home with the Lord. We must continue her faith-based work here at Trenton Catholic Academy,” said Michael Knowles, TCA administrator and close friend of Sister Dorothy. “As she always said ‘We are here for systemic change,’ She changed so many lives, including my own.”

Sister Dorothy was born in Bayonne in 1942. She entered the Sisters of St. Joseph of Chestnut Hill in 1961 and made final profession of vows in 1968. She earned a bachelor’s degree in social studies from Chestnut Hill College, Chestnut Hill, Pa., and a master’s degree in education from Fairfield University, Fairfield, Conn.

In the years that followed, Sister Dorothy taught in St. Hugh School, Our Lady of Mercy School and St. Columba School, all in Philadelphia; Blessed Sacrament School, Newark; St. Mary School and St. Andrew School, both Bayonne, and St. Joseph the Carpenter School, Roselle.

On an administration level, Sister Dorothy served as principal of Queen of Peace School, North Arlington, and St. Rose School, Belmar. Prior to being named president of Trenton Catholic Academy in 2005, she served in the Trenton Diocesan Office of Catholic Schools as associate superintendent of elementary education for Mercer and Monmouth Counties.

While in the Office of Catholic Schools, she was liaison for transportation and served on many committees, including educational planning and finance, the diocesan search committee and the diocesan conference committee and represented the Diocese when the National Catholic Education Association held its annual conference in Atlantic City in 2002.

In October 2012, Sister Dorothy was awarded the Pro Ecclesia Cross by Pope Benedict XVI, which is the highest medal awarded to the laity by the papacy.

In nominating her for the honor, Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., wrote how Sister Dorothy had earned the respect and devotion of the students and faculties with whom she worked throughout her then five decades of service to Catholic education.

Sister Dorothy is fondly remembered for the great love she had for Trenton Catholic Academy, the students and their families and how she gave her all to continue the mission of the school. She kept in contact with students after they had graduated and often followed their academic and athletic careers. She also had come to know their families, their stories, their troubles and their joys.

Daughter of the late Henry and Helen Payne, and sister of William Payne, Sister Dorothy is also survived by her cousin, Joan DeVito; extended family; members of her congregation, the Sisters of St. Joseph, and her closest friend Sister Phyllis Tracy, SSJ.

Interment was in Villa Cemetery.

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