Welcome to our companions on the journey series. Here we share our stories as Dominican Sisters and Associates of Sparkill. Today we invite you to listen to Sister Dolores Shortal, a Dominican Sister for 69 years, share her story. Sister Dolores reflects on how Sister Catherine Patricia Brennan made a difference in her life and inspires her until this very day. You may view the transcript below as well.
For me, I go way back to Sister Catherine Patricia (Sister Catherine Brennan). I was six years old, and we were encouraged as children to make visits to church after school. So almost every day my girlfriends and I would go into Saint Mark's Church, and we would make visits to the Blessed Sacrament. One day, I was with one of my special friends and we were enthralled by the votive candles that were lit. My girlfriend and I thought it would be fun to blow out the votive candles—so we did!
When we come out of church, we saw a bunch of kids standing around Sister Catherine Patricia. We knew something was wrong because they were standing there with her. When we got there, she said, “Were you in church!? Somebody said you were in church and that you blew out the candles by the statue of Saint Joseph.” We told the truth that we had blown out the candles. And I thought I was in big trouble and my mother was going to be called next. But she didn't do that. She was kind! I was impressed even as a very young child at the way she treated us. Many years later when I would look back, I think that was an encounter with Jesus, but I didn't know it at the time.
She was not around when I entered the convent, she had been transferred to New York. But I remember meeting her at the annual bazaar the Sisters sponsored, and it was wonderful to see this beautiful person again.
Then I went out on mission to Saint Martin of Tours. I was having a little disillusionment with what this life was all about and Sister Sheila Marie O’ Regan was going to visit her sponsor at 63rd Street. And we got the idea that I should call Sister Catherine Brennan and get to visit her too. And this kind beautiful person who radiated Jesus, radiated religious life, spent time with me. I guess I shared my struggles with her at that time and what I was feeling. She was so compassionate and understanding and encouraged me to keep going. This sometimes happened in religious life and so I did.
I'm going to fast forward again to when she was my superior and principal at Saint Mary Magdalene parish in Brentwood Missouri, and a wonderful superior. That would have been sometime in the 1960s and she was a very flexible person. I hadn't experienced that until that year. And it was just a joy to live in the convent, to go to school, and to witness her goodness and kindness to the kids. I mean I had other wonderful Dominican Sisters, teachers, and principals, but I just know I met Jesus in Sister Catherine Patricia. And that remains with me until this day.