ABOUT DOROTHY O’NEILL WEIMAR:
A funeral took place in the Dominican Church of St. Mary, New Haven, Connecticut, on Friday, November 22, 1974. There was nothing extraordinary from all outward appearances. It was the funeral of a devout woman who daily attended Mass. However, for a few of those present, it marked the earthly conclusion of an extraordinary life.
Dorothy Anne O’Neill Weimar was buried in the O’Neill family plot in St. Lawrence Cemetery in West Haven, Connecticut. As the final prayers were said and the casket was lowered, it seemed like the interment of both her mortal remains and her memory. However, the few who knew her spiritual journey and vocation were convinced that this could not be the end of her important mission for God’s people.
Dorothy was born into the family of Daniel O’Neill and Ida Grimes on Monday, August 23, 1909. Her parents were devout Catholics. Dorothy’s father was a respected attorney and her mother a gifted designer and maker of women’s hats. Daniel and Ida were married on June 21, 1906, in New Haven at the Dominican Church of St. Mary. In this Church many years before, St. Mary’s was still administered by the diocesan clergy. (In fact, a young diocesan priest stationed at St. Mary’s named Father Michael J. McGivney founded the Knights of Columbus.) Daniel and Ida had four children. Dorothy was their second child, preceded by a sister and followed by a brother and another sister.
New Haven is a city in New England, situated on Long Island Sound and close to New York City, which was the port of entry for European immigrants. This explains why, at the time of Dorothy’s birth, New Haven was made up of many ethnic groups and had many national parishes. In fact, when Dorothy was born, the O’Neills resided at 12 Eld Street, directly across the street from the Polish Parish of St. Stanislaus. The O’Neills were parishioners of St. Mary’s Church, located in the center of New Haven and surrounded by Yale University campus.
Already as a very small child, Dorothy’s family moved from New Haven to 82 Main Street in West Haven, Connecticut. She completed her elementary school in the public school system of West Haven. She then attended St. Mary’s private school in New Haven. This school was staffed by the Dominican Sisters of St. Mary of the Springs. Dorothy’s aunt, her mother’s sister, Sister Deborah Grimes, was a member of this Community and taught at St. Mary’s for a short time. Dorothy attended St. Mary’s School from the seventh grade through high school.
Dorothy was baptized in St. Mary’s on Thursday, September 2, 1909. As a child she was taught that prayer consisted in her speaking to God and God speaking to her. This is why she was not surprised when this is exactly what happened to her. She did not think it extraordinary that God spoke with her. He did this most frequently when she received Holy Communion. Dorothy only learned as an adult, when told by a confessor, that this was not an ordinary experience. Her spiritual life was thus begun and nurtured by Our Lord in this gentle manner from a very early age. On one occasion, while playing on her porch, Dorothy said that Our Blessed Mother appeared to her. However, she never gave further details of this particular childhood experience.
Following high school, Dorothy attended Yale Art School for a few years. While a student there, Dorothy met her future husband, Perry Commodore Weimar, who was attending the Yale School of Architecture. Dorothy and Perry became engaged. During their engagement, Perry embraced the Catholic faith. He was baptized on December 6, 1930, in St. Mary’s Church in New Haven. Dorothy and Perry were married in West Haven, at St. Lawrence Church on June 11, 1931. They subsequently resided on 26 Candee Avenue in West Haven. Two children were born of their marriage. Peter was born on April 15, 1932, and baptized on May 1st of the same year. Deborah was born on February 17, 1934, and baptized on March 4th of the same year.
On August 5, 1940, when the couple had moved to 772 Third Avenue in West Haven, Perry abandoned Dorothy and the children. Father J. A. Jordan, O.P., who had received Perry into the Catholic Church, advised Dorothy to seek a civil divorce to avoid any undesirable influence upon the children since there was no legal separation in the State of Connecticut at the time. Dorothy thus applied for divorce on January 23, 1945. The divorce was granted on January 12, 1946, giving her sole custody of the children.
However, Dorothy, filled with the love of Jesus for every soul, bore no ill will against her husband. She always prayed for his spiritual well-being and, in fact, Our Lord assured Dorothy that his soul would be saved through her prayers and sufferings. (In fact, – after her death – while he lay dying in a hospital in Indiana, Dorothy’s husband was reconciled to the Church and received the Sacraments.)
Following the marital breakup, Dorothy and her children moved back into the O’Neill family home, located on 82 Main Street in West Haven. Now Dorothy had to seek employment to support herself and her two small children.
It was at this time that Our Lord began Dorothy’s specific preparation for her special mission. His intensified contact with her resulted at times in the state of ecstasy. This state consists in the suspension of the bodily senses due to the body’s weakness under the divine action. In her simple language, Dorothy described this phenomenon as “going out” or “passing out.”
One day while her family was away at their cottage on the shore, Dorothy, who was alone at the Main Street residence, experienced a prolonged state of ecstasy. Dorothy was found in this state, and her family, thinking this condition resulted from the trauma of her marital breakup, had Dorothy admitted into the psychiatric department of New Haven Hospital. She was subsequently released as normal. This episode in her life is reminiscent of the gospel passage which indicates how Our Lord Himself was considered by His own relatives. St. Mark reports as follows. “He returned to the house with them (Jesus and His disciples) and again the crowd assembled, making it impossible for them to get any food whatever. When His family heard of this they came to take charge of Him, saying, ‘He is out of his mind” (3:20, 21). St. John also comments that “not even His brothers believed in Him” (7:5).
This incident marked the beginning of Dorothy’s sufferings from rejection and marginalization, especially by her family, with whom she had been forced into such intimate contact because of providential circumstances, especially for the welfare of her children. This was the beginning of Dorothy’s heroic suffering which was due in part to people’s reactions to her lifestyle which was accepted by her as the result of the extraordinary graces which Our Lord chose to bestow upon his faithful servant. She had mentioned to one of her spiritual sons that there are some people who could walk down the street with no clothes without anyone ever noticing, while there are others who, no matter how normally they acted or appeared, were always subject to people’s suggestions and criticisms.
II. SPIRITUAL DEVELOPMENT OF DOROTHY’S LIFE AND GRACES
At about this time Dorothy began writing a kind of résumé of the principal extraordinary graces she received. She named this journal of her soul: “Would You Let Him Suffer Alone?” Through an examination of these personal writings of hers, we will enter into intimate contact with Dorothy and her spiritual life, and become familiar with her heavenly visitors. There are twenty-eight entries. They date from July 17, 1940, to March 26, 1949. At the beginning of this period the entries are few, five in 1940, one in 1942, and one in 1943. However, after the arrival of her spiritual director, Dorothy’s entries become more frequent: six in 1946, six in 1947, and eight in 1948. Her last entry in this type of diary is on March 26, 1949.
In reading Dorothy’s spiritual diary, it is important to remember that she uses mystical language. This language expresses theological concepts and truths in an experiential fashion, much like what is counseled in Psalm 34:9: “Taste and see how good the Lord is,” or in the Song of Songs where the love of the soul for God and of God for the soul is expressed in the language of spousal love.
The many graces with which Our Lord filled Dorothy’s soul could be called “extraordinary,” but it is important to understand the meaning of this term. Extraordinary graces – visions, revelations and interior locutions – are not per se necessary for holiness, though they sometimes are present with it. There is a perfectly legitimate concern regarding these graces. This concern, however, cannot justify a disregard or, worse, a disdain for them. An expert on the spiritual life has the following to say: “… these (extraordinary) favors usually have considerable influence in the development of the spiritual life of persons who receive them and in the realization of the mission that is theirs.” We will see how Dorothy’s extraordinary graces enabled her to achieve union with God and to accomplish her mission.
Graces are called “extraordinary”, not because of their particular beauty, rarity, abundance or effects, but because they are special forms of God’s direct action upon the person’s faculties or senses. Their purpose is to produce in the recipient some distinct supernatural knowledge. The person in no way intervenes to produce this knowledge, but cooperates merely by passive receptivity. Dorothy received all the types of extraordinary graces.
III. INITIAL GRACES: “Would you let Him suffer alone?”
Dorothy carefully wrote about Our Lord’s first interventions in her life that served to define his will for her. She wrote about these experiences to be able to reflect upon them in a journal that she preserved very carefully in a notebook. Dorothy notes how Our Lord connected her future life and mission with St. Dominic, his Order, and to St. Mary’s Church which was under the care of the Dominican Friars. Read Dorothy’s Journal Here.
PRAYERS TO REQUEST FAVORS THROUGH THE STAR OF MARY’S INTERCESSION:
“Most holy and just Father of Jesus Christ, through Your Love for Your Incarnate Son, and by the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Beloved Apostle John and Saint Dominic, you called Dorothy to be an apostle of the Mass. You gave her a deep understanding of this Eucharistic Covenant, and a generous heart to live all it commands. Confirm before men Your work of grace for her by granting the favors we now ask so that Your Church may proclaim this Star of Mary a sure guide in following the Way to You, Our Father. We ask this through Jesus Christ Our Lord. Amen.”
“Only true God, Father of Jesus Christ, for the sake of Your Son’s sacrificial death, made present at the Consecration of the Mass, grant our request through the Star of Mary’s intercession.”
PRAYERS COMPOSED BY DOROTHY, THE STAR OF MARY: