WESTPORT — Mother Dolores Hart, O.S.B., who found success and fame on the screen and stage then chose to leave it behind to enter the abbey, will be the featured speaker at the 22nd annual Fall Scholarship Dinner to benefit students attending Catholic schools in the Fall River Diocese.
Sponsored by the Foundation for the Advancement of Catholic Education or FACE, formerly the St. Mary’s Education Fund, the Fall Scholarship Dinner will take place on Thursday, November 17, at White’s of Westport, beginning with a 5:30 p.m. reception.
Dolores Hart began her career as an actress at 19 years old, making her screen debut in 1957 opposite Elvis Presley in Loving You. She quickly became one of Hollywood’s rising stars. Nine other films followed including King Creole, again with Presley, and the hugely popular Where the Boys Are and Lisa. She took on Broadway as well, starring in The Pleasure of His Company in 1959, for which she received a Tony Award nomination for Best Featured Actress.
At the height of her career in 1963, she stunned Hollywood and legions of fans with her decision to enter the Benedictine Abbey of Regina Laudis in Bethlehem, Conn., to become a cloistered nun. As time passed, though, her radical choice became a source of inspiration for many who admired her as an actress and public figure.
In her years at the monastery Mother Dolores has played a key role in the education and formation of new community members and in developing the community’s apostolic out-reach, including founding “The Gary –The Olivia Theater” on the Abbey grounds in collaboration with actors such as Academy Award winner Patricia Neal. She has since 1970 served as Dean of Education at Regina Laudis.
In recognition of her commitment to promote excellence in the arts and serve the Church through her profession, Mother Dolores has received three honorary doctorates, from Fairfield University, Loyola Marymount and Holy Family University, as well as numerous awards from Catholic organizations such as the Life Achievement Award from The Christophers.
She continues to be a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
The HBO documentary film God is the Bigger Elvis about Mother Dolores’ remarkable story was nominated for a 2012 Academy Award in the Documentary Short category. Her acclaimed autobiography The Ear of the Heart: An Actress’ Journey from Hollywood to Holy Vows was released in 2013 and is now in its third printing.
In a letter of invitation to support this year’s FACE Fall Scholarship Dinner, Bishop Edgar M. da Cunha, S.D.V., noted that the evening’s speaker will be a Benedictine Sister who began her adult life as a Hollywood actress.
“Her story of commitment to her calling is an inspiration to us in our call to serve our young through their formative years,” he pointed out.
The Fall Scholarship Dinner is one of two principal yearly fund-raisers that support FACE. To date in the current school year alone, FACE has granted $860,200 in need-based financial scholarships. In doing so, FACE is helping provide to more than 900 students the opportunity to attend a Catholic elementary, middle and or high schools in the Fall River Diocese.
Bishop da Cunha wrote to prospective donors that, “By investing in our schools, we also invest in the future of our Church and the well-being of our broader community.”
The Fall Scholarship Dinner will feature a reception and extensive multi-course meal followed by a brief program and the presentation by Mother Dolores.
In the context of the program, Bishop da Cunha will present the annual Timothy Cotter Friend of Catholic Education Award to Michael Tamburro of Seekonk. Tamburro, the former longtime president and now current vice-chairman of the Pawtucket Red Sox, chaired the Fall Scholarship Dinner multiple times and served on its committee for additional years. He is a member of Our Lady Queen of Martyrs Parish in Seekonk.
Sandra L. Sevigney, First Vice President and a retirement plan specialist at Plimoth Investment Advisors, is serving as chairperson of the event again this year for her third time.
Those interested in supporting the Fall Scholarship Dinner through sponsorship opportunities or by purchasing individual tickets should contact the Diocesan Development Office at 508-675-1311 or visit www.FACE-DFR.org