Sister Dora’s ministry will carry on
After 40-plus years, Sr. Dora’s days of “treasure hunting” have come to an end.
Since 1973, Sister of the Divine Savior Dora Zapf, SDS has been sifting through mounds of donated goods at the Salvatorian Mission Warehouse in New Holstein, Wis. That year she joined Br. Regis Fust, SDS at the warehouse he opened in 1963 to receive, sort, re-pack and ship supplies to Salvatorian missions in Tanzania, East Africa.
Earlier this year, Br. Regis retired after 52 years from the ministry that now ships supplies to more than 100 missions in 25 countries. Sr. Dora retired in June, and now, the 25-thousand-square-foot warehouse carries on its mission with a lay director and nearly 200 volunteers.
When Br. Regis first started the mission shipments, Sr. Dora was on the receiving end in the Tanzanian village of Masasi. Back then, she unpacked the treasures – including clothing, medical supplies, foodstuffs and toiletries – and made sure they delivered to other missions where they were most needed. Twelve years later, Sr. Dora came to Wisconsin to help in the New Holstein warehouse near Green Bay. Over the years the need for supplies grew, along with the volume of U.S. companies’ donations of overstock, factory seconds and returned goods.
Sr. Dora was born in Kirchschonbach, Germany. She chose to devote her life to God as a Sister of the Divine Savior, and completed her religious formation in Horrem, Germany. After four years in England to learn the English language, Sr. Dora went to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania where English-speaking Salvatorian Sisters operated a primary school. Sr. Dora says that up to that time, such a school was unusual because African children had not been taught in English. President Julius Kambarage Nyerere and many members of Parliament sent their children to the school. Sr. Dora recalls that President Nyerere always referred to Salvatorian School as “our school.” It was both a boarding school and day school. Sr. Dora was trained as a tailor, and served as a housemother for 100 girls and 100 boys who lived at the school. In addition, 155 children came each day by car from the local area. Many of the missionaries who went to Masasi Girls School remember Sr. Dora welcoming them at the airport. She also did shopping for electrical parts and other necessities for the missions in the rural, southern region for the Diocese of Nachingwea.
Sr. Dora later went to Lupaso to teach Tanzanian girls sewing, first aid and other domestic skills. She also served as coordinator of the kitchen and workers at the Nandembo mission. Upon her return to Masasi, she served at the local mission, and helped provide for missionaries in remote areas. From 12 years ministering in Tanzania, Sr. Dora knows first-hand the great need Salvatorian Mission Warehouse has filled in her 42 years serving alongside Br. Regis. Even though she’s slowing her pace, Sr. Dora plans to remain in New Holstein, volunteering her pastoral services to people there.