Born on June 7, 1931 in Dayton to Edna and Henry Stang, Dorothy Mae was the fourth of nine children. She attended Julienne High School and entered religious life with the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur in 1948. She professed final vows in 1956 and worked as an elementary school teacher in Chicago and Phoenix before beginning her ministry in Brazil in 1966. There, she worked with the Pastoral Land Commission, an organization that fights for the rights of rural workers and peasants, as well as defending land reforms. Over the next forty years, Dorothy continued to live out and share the Gospel, the foundation of her life. In addition to her work supporting land reform, she opened 39 schools, founded 35 faith communities and educated women and helped them obtain viable jobs.
On February 12, 2005, at the age of 73, Dorothy was on her way to meet with Brazilians farmers whose homes had been burned down when two gunmen approached her and killed her as she recited the Beatitudes from the Bible. Her death came less than one week after she had met with Brazil's human rights officials about threats to local farmers from ranchers and logging companies. The effects of Dorothy's work continue to bloom through those whom she has inspired to serve. She believed, "We can't talk about the poor, we
must be poor with the poor and then there is no doubt about how to act."