Sister Doris Marie Batt, CSJ
We come together in gratitude and praise for the meaningful faith-filled life of Sister Doris Marie Batt, formerly Sister Stephen Marita, a Sister of St. Joseph for 74 wonderful years.
Doris’ early life was centered in Nassau County. She, along with Marilyn, Elaine, and Richard, the loving children of Frederick and Mary, grew up in Valley Stream with Holy Name Parish as an anchor in their lives ~ a life that was seen as idyllic.
Doris attended the Juniorate and then entered the congregation to begin her lifelong ministry as teacher and advocate for the deaf and the disadvantaged. The 12 years Doris spent as a teacher of 1st graders in the Diocese of Brooklyn nurtured her passion for working with the deaf especially young children. She was elated when in 1963 Mother Immaculata gave her a resounding ‘yes” to pursue her studies in Deaf Education. That yes changed the lives of countless children and their families and all who journeyed with Doris in this sacred ministry.
Doris earned a Masters in Deaf Education from Canisius College supplemented by courses at the University of Massachusetts, Gallaudet College and the University of New Mexico ~ her desire to be the best for her students was undaunted.
Doris brought her skills, expertise and loving compassion to her work at Cleary School for the Deaf as teacher and then as Administrator and later in her ministerial service to the residents at the Neumann Residence in Manhasset where she served as House Parent and Resident Manager for hearing impaired and developmentally disabled adults.
Always open to God’s Spirit and call, Doris took on the added responsibility to serve as Administrator of St. Thomas Villa in Monticello for 11 fruitful years ~ all while continuing her caring presence to serving her beloved companions in the Neumann Residence ~ no easy task!
In 1992 seeking, in her words “more time for her spiritual life because I’ve been just too busy”, Doris took on the role of treasurer for the Academy of St. Joseph and later as Office Manager in the Finance Office. Doris’ sense of being “too, too busy” gives us all pause. In Doris’ “Non-retirement” mode while living in Bay Shore, she served as RCIA Coordinator at St. Patrick’s and Eucharistic Minister to the homebound.
Doris’ dear friend Joanna clearly stated that Doris had 2 loves ~Teaching children who were deaf ~and working in Monticello.
We’re grateful that Maura Costello, Doris’ friend and co-minister in the field of deaf education will now share a personal reflection.
~ Maura ~
Thanksgiving Day 2023 around 1pm. God decides that S. Doris Batt will have her Thanksgiving celebration at the heavenly banquet specially readied for a woman of gratitude all her life. And how did Doris prepare for this moment? She always said she was ready to go, but she had an idea – she got herself to the beauty parlor for a haircut – no appointment, no money! But who could refuse her? She knew God’s call was coming soon and she always said she was ready.
Doris was a woman with many gifts, received with gratitude and shared with joy to all whose lives she touched. Yes, once you met Doris, you knew “special”, “friend”, “goodness”, “fun”, holy”. She taught us how to live and how to die! Blessed with a loving family – her mom made the best coleslaw – and her dad kept his finger on the 4 of them. Doris, as the oldest, was the leader of the pack, the one upon whom to depend on and trust, the listener and positive thinker, all part of their family life. Marily, Lenie, Rich Peace to each of you.
And how blest have Sisters of St. Joseph been, to have Doris as our Sister too. She obediently heeded each CSJ call to the charism – Love of God and neighbor without distinction, and very specifically to her call to the ministry of deaf education for 20 years. Our beginnings together at St. Mary’s School for the Deaf in Buffalo, feeling hope, excitement and challenge morphed into great experiences and a rich harvest. We worked hard on sign language communication and had our first responsibility and experience at Thanksgiving 1963 when we travelled on the Grand Central Railroad, Buffalo to New York City with about 30 deaf students aged 5 to 20 in two separate railroad cars, each student debarking the train at a stop on the way, and we not knowing sign language well. We did have help from the conductors and all the students met their parents at their stop. Whew! Thanks God. Cleary School was Doris’ love – each student, parent, faculty member. They confided in her, and she brought much joy and expertise through her daily visible presence. As Principal and Superintendent, she had opportunities to influence the Administrators of the other New York State Schools for the Deaf to help procure needed funds, not a small feat.
When mainstreaming deaf students into regular classes, Doris’ presentation convinced the Cleary Board of Directors to agree to begin the Cleary Secondary Program at Mercy H.S. Riverhead, a decision that continues successfully today at the East Islip School District. Some of the Cleary students are here today or watching via Livestream. How wonderful that S. Rita is interpreting for them. Doris’ 5 years with THE FOLKS, as she called the residents in Neumann House, was very special to her. Living with them quickened her attachment as she used all her skills in communication with great love. A lively community was joyful, and peaceful for all. LOVE was the key. Doris was a great driver, having learned before entering the community so she drove all over the Island and eventually back and forth to Monticello where her spirit of welcome, hard work, and vacation mode provided a respite for the Sisters. I bet that she bet many times at the horse races up there and won! Her gift of hospitality endeared her to all vacationers and workers, as it had to all with whom she lived.
These past almost 3 years here brought many moments of peace and relaxation. Doris and Joanna could be found on the porch almost every day, relaxing and taking in the beauty of creation. So precious to each of these two special friends – gift! So much love was found here with Doris’ needs being met in so many ways. Her loss of hearing and sight was difficult but accepted and supported by so many, including the visual machine shared with Doris by S. Owen, a special gift of love.
Doris was a great storyteller and shared her love of photography – pictures and slides, with so many people in school, community, and family. She had the best laugh and once she started the laugh was contagious. During her last weeks, her mind, still very sharp, asked for “beer and pretzels” which she and Joanna enjoyed to the hilt.
Her decision to go on Hospice was a tough one, but, in prayer and discussion she said Yes to it. The first Hospice Nurse arrived, and Doris was sitting up eating with gusto, a juicy hamburger. Doris ate that so fast that the Nurse asked herself “Is this the correct person for whom I am here?” The Nursing staff of this Convent were in and out constantly and giving such care that could not be matched. Doris was praising them, one by one all through the 2.5 years at St. Joseph’s here and continued to the very end. She loved and appreciated you all, Nursing staff, Administration, Sisters, staff of St. Joseph Convent. She shared stories about you all, till the end when God’s peace flooded that final moment. Recently Doris and her siblings celebrated Rich’s birthday in The Irish Coffee Pub, and Doris told them that she wanted/planned to live for her 75th Anniversary as a Sister of St. Joseph next September. She wanted the gold gift that everyone received on that day. Well, she was given the golden crown for sure, wasn’t she? And with her Rosary in her hand, as always, final peace was hers.
Maura, you captured the heart and soul of your dear companion, Doris. Her bright smile and kindly manner bless you abundantly.
Celebrating Doris’ 74 adventurous and wonderful years as a Sister of St. Joseph, our Constitution is now placed with her as we all give assent to the words of Sister Jean Amore written to Doris on her retirement ~
“Never doubt Doris that you are a faithful and loving daughter of Joseph! You have been, you are, and you will continue to be a beautiful gift to the Congregation.” Rest in Peace.