I quietly celebrated my 70th Jubilee in August, 2022, with my beloved community of sisters. I am so grateful in my heart for this community, the elderly parishioners I ministered to, and the children I taught many years ago.
I was born Dolores Thomas in Kansas City, Kansas. My parents, John and Elizabeth, influenced me greatly as living examples of dedication to faith, family and hard work. We lived with my Grandmother Helen in the early years until my parents could afford a home. I remember Helen as a woman of even keel, prayer, compassion and peace—a rock. My three younger siblings and I attended St. Anthony’s Catholic School—staffed by the Benedictine Sisters of Atchison, Kansas. My call to become a sister began forming early as the sisters taught me to clean the sanctuary where my love for the Blessed Sacrament began.
The Benedictine’s model of caring concern for all the students they taught appealed to me. I fondly remember Sister Leann Cogan, a sister at Benet Hill, who taught me in seventh grade at St. Anthony’s School. The special bond that I shared with Sister Leann carried a place of honor in my heart. It is with deep respect and wonder that she speaks of this journey from student to sister. The special bond that she shared with Sister Leann is carried in a place of honor in her heart. After high school I worked for one year as a secretary and joined Mount Saint Scholastica Convent, Atchison, Kansas, in 1951. I recall my journey from student to sister with respect and wonder.
I made my first profession December 22, 1952. I ministered as a teacher at Sacred Heart Cathedral School in Pueblo, Colorado, St. Joseph School in Monte Vista, Colorado, St. Pius X in Mission, Kansas, St. Cajetan School in Denver, Colorado, Holy Trinity School in Colorado Springs. I also served in pastoral ministry at St. Vincent De Paul Parish in Denver and Our Lady of Fatima Parish in Lakewood, Colorado.
Three major milestones mark my journey as a Benedictine. First, I was called by the Benet Hill community to serve as Prioress from 1975 to 1983. As an introvert, I was encouraged by other sisters to face the challenge of being “pulled out” and recognize my unique gifts that were of great value to the community. I remember that the Lord walked with us, providing strength and grace to get through. I am forever grateful for her growth during this time as a monastic woman.
Second, my Golden Jubilee in 2002 filled me with joy as my mother and sisters celebrated with me my rich journey covering fifty years of faith and cherished relationships.
Third, I have felt privileged to have been a part of so many lives—lives with stories filled with joy, grief, pain, healing, suffering, and blessing. These living “reflections of God,” were examples of fidelity to church through volunteering, fidelity to marriage through loving relationships, and fidelity to God through an unending desire to grow in faith.
A few months prior to my retirement in 2009, I was asked to head the monastery team to plan the move to the new monastery in Black Forest. I laugh today when I think about organizing this enormous undertaking to move to Benet Lane with all its joys and challenges. God’s grace, lots of humility, and a healthy sense of humor got me through it. After the move, I directed the growing retreat ministry and supervised dining services. Today, I strive to serve the community and guests with hospitality, prayer, and a welcoming smile.