Dorothea Italiano was born at Queen Victoria Hospital in Melbourne on September 3, 1933. The name on her baptismal certificate was Dorothea Angela Italiano and in 1951 her father, to avoid any racial slur, changed the family surname, by Deed Poll, to Tallon.
Dorothea was the first of four children born to Dominic and Veronica Tallon (nee Leslie). Dominic was a boot maker and mender by trade and had come to Australia on his own as a 17-year-old from Reggio Calabria, Italy. Her mother had been born in North Fitzroy and she was of Irish-English descent.
Dorothea’s primary schooling was at North Fitzroy and, largely as a result of scholarships, she had a full secondary education at Santa Maria College, Northcote. Dorothea had happy years at Santa with teachers such as Sisters Philomena Gallagher, Laserian Crowe and Rita Neville. These were women she admired and appreciated.
On leaving school Dorothea worked as a laboratory assistant. The hard-working family were very close and the birth of her younger sister Moya after such a long time brought great joy, and Dorothea delayed her entry to religious life for 12 months. The family at this time was living in the parish of Brunswick, an inner suburb of Melbourne.
Dorothea entered the Good Samaritan Novitiate at Pennant Hills on July 2, 1953 when she was almost 20 years of age. She was given her own name Sister Mary Dorothea in religion. On January 6, 1956 she made her first profession of vows and moved to Glebe for St Scholastica’s Teachers’ College.
After completing her teacher training, Sister Dorothea was appointed to Rosebank Secondary College for a year before being moved to Gawler, South Australia as principal and teacher of the primary school for two years.
In 1960, Dorothea was appointed to Seacombe Gardens, South Australia as teacher and principal of the primary school before changing in 1961 to secondary classes at the recently-opened Marymount College and she remained in secondary schools except for renewal and study breaks until 2000.
Dorothea taught in Victoria at Epping several times, North Fitzroy (also principal) and Northcote (also superior), and was in NSW at Campbelltown (also superior).
As a teacher in the multicultural working class northern suburbs of Melbourne, Dorothea was dedicated to enabling her students to aspire to an education that would ensure they could contribute to society in any field of endeavour. Her practicality of language and her honesty in communicating with students earned their trust and respect.
Dorothea completed her Bachelor of Science at Melbourne University in 1976. Prior to this she had studied at McCleod Evening Classes and Preston Institute of Technology and completed an Associate Diploma in Pastoral Studies.
In 1992, with a program in Italian Culture and Language, Dorothea enjoyed the experience of living in small Italian towns and villages, and during this year she also spent a few weeks at St George’s College in Jerusalem with a program called “Palestine of Jesus”.
Dorothea spent some time in the Philippines with pastoral outreach with our sisters in Bacolod in 2002. In mid-2007 she spent time again in Rome with the Benedictine Renewal Program, then in 2008 was able to travel for seven weeks in South Australia, The Centre and the west coast of Western Australia.
This broad educational experience was a wonderful foundation for Dorothea’s transition into school pastoral ministry. It was here she truly excelled. With parents she offered them practical help and wise advice. With staff she broadened their understanding of the lives of students away from the College campus and her ministry has gained the affection and gratitude of parents and staff even until the present time.
Ministry focus for Dorothea changed in 2003 with a move to pastoral care roles with our frail and elderly sisters in Victoria at Marian House, South Morang Mews, Villa Madonna at Bundoora and Villa Maria. The pastoral ministry honed in the College scene was transferred with love and compassion to the frail and elderly sisters in Victoria at Marian House, South Morang Mews, Villa Madonna then Villa Maria. Her commitment to visiting the sisters and tending to their needs was unfailing and untiring. She understood the essence of being a very practical Good Samaritan.
She was in all things practical but this did not belie the fact that she had a very keen intellect, and it was her own extreme honesty and awareness that convinced her that, in January 2015, it was time to retire from active service and she came to live in Marian House.
By January 2017 it was decided that more one-on-one care was required for Dorothea and she began her life at Southern Cross Care, Keon Park. Even there her inimitable humour endeared her to all the staff who cared for her. This is where Dorothea died on February 11, 2018.