Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Dolores Hart (Former Hollywood Star) now Mother Dolores, Benedictine Nun

Dolores Hart (pictured now) was the first film star to kiss Elvis Presley. She went on to perform in several more films in the late 1950s and early 1960s. In 1961, she played St Clare in Francis of Assisi. That year she met Pope John XXIII and told him, "I'm Dolores Hart, the actress playing Clare." The Pope said, "No, you are Clare!" Those words were prophetic, as a few years later, Dolores entered the Regina Laudis Benedictine Abbey in Connecticut, and took her final vows there in 1970. As a Benedictine Sister, she has lived a very quiet, structured life, praying the Office every day. The community is self-sufficient and has its own 160 hectare farm, pottery and foundry.

 Through the years, Mother Dolores has been instrumental in developing the abbey's connection with the community through the arts. Paul Newman helped her with funding for a lighting grid, when she decided to start a year-round arts school and a better-equipped stage. Another friend, the Academy Award winning actress Patricia Neal also helped support the abbey's open-air theatre and arts program. Every summer, the abbey's 38 nuns help the community stage a musical. Shows have included West Side Story, Fiddler on the Roof, The Music Man, and My Fair Lady. In 2006, Mother Dolores visited Hollywood again after 43 years in the convent, to raise awareness for peripheral idiopathic neuropathy disorder, a neurological disorder from which she now suffers. In April 2006, she testified at a Washington congressional hearing on the need for research on the painful and crippling disease. Reverend Mother Dolores Hart became Prioress of the Abbey in 2001, but she remains a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, having in recent years become the only nun to be an Oscar-voting member. This year, she will be attending the Oscars herself, because she is the subject of the short documentary, God is Bigger Than Elvis, which is up for an Academy Award.

The Choir of the Abu Ghosh Benedictine Monastery