A devout sister of the Society of the Sacred Heart and a lifelong passionate educator, she was as much at home with a cardinal or a student, believing that fidelity in relationships was key to God’s love
In the late afternoon of Wednesday 6 March 2019, God called Isabel Dorothy Norah Bell RSCJ to the fullness of life, aged 94. She died shortly before the sun began to set on Ash Wednesday: it seems entirely appropriate that God, knowing very well her questing spirit, understood she could not wait a full six weeks until Easter, and instead brought her more speedily to the fullness of the Resurrection with him.
Born in a flat in Lincoln’s Inn, London, on 8 September 1924, Dorothy was the only child of her parents’ marriage and grew up in a family very much part of the British establishment. Her mother’s first husband had died in the First World War and she had later remarried; then her father was shot in the head and lost a lung; later, her half-brother Thomas, a merchant seaman, died in the Second World War when his ship was torpedoed.
After her parents converted to Catholicism, Dorothy became a pupil at the Convent of the Sacred Heart school in Roehampton in September 1935 and was received into the Church three months later. In 1942, her life changed dramatically, when her barrister father was appointed a judge of the High Court in Madras, and she and her mother travelled with him to India – a hazardous journey due to the constant danger of being torpedoed while crossing the Atlantic.