Tag Archives: Regina Laudis Abbey

Nun hits Hollywood, again: Mother Dolores Hart turns heads

Mother Dolores Wendy Carlson.jpgBenedictine nuns typically don’t go to the Oscars. For that matter, high profile actresses don’t consecrate themselves as Benedictine nuns. Dolores Hart did both. 

Dressed in the traditional Benedictine habit of the Abbey of Regina Laudis of Bethlehem, Connecticut, Mother Dolores Hart was being considered for a short film Oscar for “God Is The Bigger Elvis.” 
The film debuts on April 5 on HBO.
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Mother Dolores Hart speaks about her life and Faith

On Saturday I drove up to the Abbey of Regina Laudis situated in Bethlehem, Connecticut, to purchase cheese and note cards made by the Benedictine nuns there. Cheese is a homemade product of the nuns of this monastery made from milk of 5 dairy cows. But in addition to cheese and note cards I picked up a beautiful DVD interviewing Mother Dolores Hart, OSB. In 2000, Chantal Westerman interviewed Mother Dolores for an hour long presentation called “Conversations with Remarkable People: Mother Dolores Hart.”

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From this conversation I learned a few things and a new perspective among which Mother Dolores was not only an actress but also a carpenter who made chairs and tables but also coffins for the nuns in her earlier life at the abbey and she took the time to welcome guests. Patricia Neal was of particular interest. (A convert to Catholic before her death, Neal died in August 2010 and is buried at Regina Laudis Abbey.) Of particular interest to me was not Hart’s work in Hollywood but her concrete witness of Christian faith. Ms Westerman asked Mother how she understood faith and the phrase “I am spiritual but not religious.” Mother answered (my notes):
Faith is remembering the exquisite gifts of God given us in particulars of space and time and people; faith is having the guts to say ‘yes’ when you have no idea what the ‘yes’ means; the ‘yes’ is given in response to a mystery.
With regard to the spiritual/religious distinction often made: the two are complementary and have a convergence.

Indeed! There is no separation between spiritual and religious. The soul needs integration of each to make any real sense.

If you can get a copy of the DVD from the Abbey, do so. I recommend it. And stay for Vespers (the Church’s evening prayer) daily beautifully sung by the 40 nuns.
You may be interested in other blog posts on Regins Laudis and Mother Dolores Hart found here.

Dolores Hart steps out of the Abbey to help her sisters

RM Dolores Hart OSB.jpg

She’s known because of her background: the actress who worked with Elvis Presley. That’s what many people remember of Dolores Hart. Some recall that in 1963 Hart left Hollywood to follow her heart: to give her heart to Jesus Christ as a Benedictine nun at the Abbey of Regina Laudis in Bethlehem, Connecticut. Today, Hart is known as Mother Dolores. At 73 (her birthday on October 20th), there are no signs of slowing down, despite flares of neuropathy.
As buildings and property age –more than 60 years old by now– the wood, bricks and mortar give way and updating needs to happen. Working for the Church, I can attest of the serious need and reasonableness to invest buildings and property. Regina Laudis needs our help! Read about it here.

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Oscars 2011 and a nun

Dolores Hart OSB.jpgNot surprising that many people are interested in sensational stories like “Mother Dolores Hart: The Nun Who Kissed Elvis Presley.” I guess kissing Elvis is akin to winning the jackpot. Each to his or her own! Thom Geier’s story is exactly titled such on EW.com. I have to admit, however, I am fascinated –to a degree– by this woman’s gesture of following a vocation that had in mind her eternal destiny and not just money, fame and power. Hart’s life and enduring witness to Christ at the Abbey of Regina Laudis, Bethlehem, CT, is inspiring. Who wouldn’t be inspired by a beautiful woman giving her life to God through monastic consecration!

The following gives a flavor of Geier’s article: “Over the course of nearly half a century as a Roman
Catholic nun, Mother Dolores has had many jobs: choir member, baker, and coffin
maker. She’s served as prioress, the convent’s second in command, for nine
years. But for the past two decades, she has spent a good deal of time each
winter on another assignment that harks back to her earlier, pre-monastic life:
Oscar voter.”

Mother Dolores’ autobiography ought to be out soon.

Autumn days at the Abbey of Regina Laudis

St Benedict, Lower Monastery Chapel.JPGThe Abbey of Regina Laudis is a special place in Connecticut; and one of the special Benedictine monasteries in the USA. I’ve been spending more time there in recent months either attending the Divine Office and/or Mass or spending a few days in St Joseph’s Guest House (for men, there are guests for women, married folks, & clergy).

One thing I learn going to monasteries or other types of religious houses is the wide variety of people who come for a brief visit to the gift shop and chapel to those visiting for professional reasons and those who are there to spend a few days making a retreat, bugging out of the “world” for a respite or those like me who just love monasteries, nuns and the culture. This past weekend we had Jesuit seminarians and a man from North Carolina connecting with distant family who happens to be a nun.

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About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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