June 28, 2023 // Local

Dorothy ‘Dottie’ Carpenter; Saying Goodbye to a Legacy

Dottie Carpenter

She may have met Jesus in her earthly home on Friday, June 9, but Dorothy Ann “Dottie” Carpenter, 89, spent a lifetime offering a sense of home to others. Among other projects, Carpenter began and directed Fort Wayne’s Ave Maria Hospitality House, a daytime homeless shelter, through her parish, St. Mary Mother of God in Fort Wayne as stated in her obituary on the Sheets and Child Funeral Home website.

“It never mattered to her what the status was of your life, what you looked like, what you wore, or what your beliefs were. She was fully entrenched into the gift of giving from her heart. She lived what Jesus talked about,” said Theresa Teders, one of Dottie’s daughters. “Her capacity for others was enormous. She never stopped giving in some way. Even as a little girl, I remember mom always there to help people, from teaching CCD at St. John Bosco to being a scout leader at the Cathedral to the Ave Maria [Hospitality] House today. She led with her heart.”

Teders recalled, “Mom knew how to gather the troops to get the help she needed for projects. As we got older, we all had our own lives, but we all still helped in the ministries. She reached out to many community services and clubs to support her ministry. When she reached  out to the community, it gave them the chance to be a part of and share in the love for others that Jesus taught us. There are so many needs in this world. All one has to do is pray, follow your heart, and pick a cause.”

One of her causes was the Ave Maria Hospitality House. “I started this ministry out of love for the poor,” Dottie said in an interview posted to YouTube (youtube.com/watch?v=a5rnceVCWSc). “We are all poor. We are all needy in some way.” Begun in 2008, the facility aims to bring a sense of home-like welcome and dignity to Fort Wayne’s homeless population.

Now open for 12 years according to Father Wimal Jayasuriya of St. Mary Mother of God, a warm shower, laundry, cup of coffee, snack, or friendly conversation are made possible because of Carpenter’s labors. “Fort Wayne has lost a rare caliber of a genuine social worker,” Father Jayasuriya said. “The poor have lost the Mother Teresa of Ave Maria House. The parish has lost an extremely active and an exemplary member. The family has lost a loving mother and a grandma. She is unique as every one of us. She cannot be substituted, but what she initiated could be carried forward by those who have goodwill and those who wish to walk the talk.”

Ave Maria Hospitality House was not Carpenter’s only venue for giving to the community. According to her obituary, the soup kitchen at St. Mary, the St. Vincent de Paul Society, the warehouse at St. Mary, and the St. Martin de Porres Ministries also enjoyed Carpenter’s service. For 15 years, she operated a clothing bank for St. Patrick Church. As though these were not enough, she also shared with Fort Wayne Animal Care and Control, Fort Wayne SPCA, and St. Jude Children’s Hospital, among other work.

Final Arrangements

Those wishing to make a memorial in Dottie Carpenter’s name are encouraged to share with Ave Maria Hospitality House or the soup kitchen at St. Mary’s, according to the funeral home’s web page. Her Mass of Christian Burial will be at St. Mary Mother of God Church, 1101 S. Lafayette St., on Saturday, July 8. The 10:30 a.m. service will have calling before Mass beginning at 9:30 a.m. There will be calling also on Friday, July 7, from 1 to 8 p.m., with a rosary prayed at 8 p.m. Catholic Cemetery, Fort Wayne has been selected for interment. Those interested in leaving photos, memories, or messages of remembrance online can visit the funeral home’s page at sheetsandchilds.com/obituaries/dorothy-a-carpenter.

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