Focus 2009

Dorotea - SBA15-01-2009

Project Venerable Dorotea Chopitea
Date: 1816 - 1891
Place: Barcellona
Province: SBA

Energetic, enterprising and a heart of gold

Dorothea was born in Santiago, Chile, on the 5th June 1816 to a rich Catholic family, rich in children (18 of them!) and worldly goods. Three years later, soon after Chile gained independence from Spain, don Pedro Nolasco Chopitea brought his family to Barcellona. Dorothea was energetic, lively, enterprising, but with a heart of gold.

Married a banker and businessman

When she was 13 she chose Fr Peter Nardò as her spiritual director and he guided her for around 50 years. She was well educated. On Fr Peter’s advice, she married an excellent young man when she was but 16, Joseph Serra, was a banker and businessman.

Charity to all, especially the poor

They remained happily and faithfully married for 50 years. In the end, Joseph would say: “our love grew daily”. Six children were born to them: Dorothea, Anna Mary, Isabella, Mary Luisa, Carmen and Gesuina. Dorothea’s main concern was to live mainly for God. She developed her piety: daily Mass, Communion, rosary. But the most extraordinary of all was her charity towards everyone, especially the poor.

God's almsgiver

Her love for the poor came first in her scale of values: "The poor will be my first thought". She was called "God’s almsgiver". She went with her husband on his various journeys, and was received by Leo XIII who treated her with great deference. Some thirty foundations resulted from her and her husband’s charity: kindergartens, schools, hospitals, workshops... Someone has calculated that what she achieved is more than has been achieved by some States.

Wrote to Don Bosco - to found a work for young workers

On the 20th September 1882, already a widow for several months, she wrote to Don Bosco: "I would like to found a work for young workers and orphans in Barcellona’s suburbs". Don Bosco accepted, and Dorothea thus became a Salesian Cooperator.

"Our mamma of Barcellona"

The work began at Sarrià in 1884. She also worked with Don Rinaldi, provincial in Spain, to set up other Salesian works, and the future Rector Major says this of her: “Many times I heard her say that she carried out the humblest of services for the sick”. In April-May 1886 Don Bosco met with the holy benefactress, ever ready to help him. When Don Bosco died, Donna Dorothea began three new works, amongst which Santa Dorothea College in Sarrià, entrusted to the FMA, and for which she gave money she was keeping for her own old age.

Don Bosco called her "our mamma of Barcellona". Dorothea, like Mamma Margaret before her, died poor on the 3rd April 1891. She is buried at Barcellona-Sarrià.

Process began on 4 April 1927
Declared Venerable on 9 June 1983

Address: Inspectoria Salesiana
Plaça d'Artós, 4
08017 Barcelona
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