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While not a lifelong resident of Eudora, this is a story about one former resident who grew up here and ended up giving her life to God. Her story is inspirational and admirable. This is the story of Sister Dolorosa.
Rose House, niece of Sister Dolorosa, penned the following article about this great lady and the work she has done.
Rejoice with me, and be glad, for I have taken my place with all the Saints in the Kingdom of Light! (Feast of St. Agnes)
With these words and her smiling face on the front of the memorial card, we celebrated the entrance into Eternal Life at the funeral Mass of my aunt, Sister Dolorosa of the Infant Jesus and our Crucified Savior. The funeral took place on Monday, Feb. 7th at the Carmel of St. Joseph in St. Louis, her home for the past 61 years.
I cannot begin to express the deep impression that this holy woman and her twin sister, Marcella, also a cloistered Carmelite nun, have made on my life and the lives of all they have touched in their 88 years on this earth. I cannot remember a day when I didn’t have twin aunts in Carmel – it was a fact of life for me as surely as being a Catholic and having a loving family. It just “was”. Only as I get older, do I realize what a tremendous blessing it has been on our whole family.
Aunt Dolorosa was born on November 14, 1922 to my grandparents, John and Helen Schopper on the family farm located on the west edge of Eudora on old Highway 10. The youngest of the twins, she followed her sister, Marcella into the world just minutes apart. From the very beginning, they were inseparable.
Both girls went to Holy Family Catholic School for 8 years before entering Eudora High. Following graduation, they became registered nurses and worked at St. Margaret’s hospital in Kansas City, but even from an early age, they both felt a deeper, more spiritual calling in their lives.
The funeral program provided to us tells it best….”Sister Dolorosa loved to tell the story of her vocation to Carmel. The day she left home to enter Carmel, her parents drove her to St. Louis. Sr. Dolorosa, having chosen the radical vocation of a Carmelite, knew chances were she would never see her home again. As her father drove the car out of the driveway, he turned around to her and said, ‘Delores, do you want to take one last look at the home place?’ “No, daddy” she told him. “This morning I went to each room in the house, knelt down and kissed the floor, thanking God for all the happiness and blessings I had here, Now, I’m going to answer Our Lord’s call and He says, ‘No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the Kingdom of God.” (Luke9:62) I remember hearing that story over and over through my 56 years – I loved it so much I asked for it nearly every time I visited. It exemplified her life to a T – she never said “no” to God, and that made quite an impression on me as a little girl and indeed, through the years following.
I always felt a tremendous sense of pride (although she was the sweet example of humility to me) telling people that I had twin aunts in the cloistered Carmelite Monastery in St. Louis. For those who don’t know what that means, it is, simply put, a lifestyle where once they entered and professed final vows, they never left. No shopping trips, no vacations, no trips to the library or the theatre. They lived a simple life of prayer within the walls of Carmel, their main vocation in life to pray for priests and the many needs of the Church and to save souls. An austere life of sacrifice and denial, yet a most joyous life as they gave their all to Christ crucified. I remember that even as a young girl, I felt an almost envy of their lifestyle. They were so joyous in their vocations with true happiness shining forth to all they met. It touched me deeply.
I have so many fond memories of visiting my twin aunties through the years and poured out my heart to them in long letters through the years. The first line spoken in our extended family about any major illness or birth or death was “We need to call Carmel and have the Twins and the Sisters start praying for our intentions.” It seemed we had a direct lifeline to God’s ear and there was great comfort in knowing that these holy women were interceding for us at the throne of God. That was their sole purpose in life and we took advantage of it many times.
Yesterday, I gazed on my 88 year old aunt as she laid in her beautiful brown and white habit that had been her only garb for 61 years and saw a saint of God, only the earthly shell left behind. She appeared to be a woman in her 30’s with the countenance of a woman much younger than her years. She has seen God. In her hands, she clutched a well used rosary and the funeral director told us that wrapped around her wrist was a small plastic rosary. It seems that Aunt Dolorosa had such a love for the prayer of praise and petition to Our Blessed Mother, that she had wrapped one around her wrist long ago so it would always be with her. It had grown into her skin, yet caused no pain and it was shown to us as we touched our rosaries to hers. On her head was a wreath of pink roses and when the casket was closed, her crucifix, her Bible and her copy of the rules of the Order were placed atop the lid.
There were 5 priests that celebrated her funeral Mass and even though there was sadness, there was much rejoicing in our hearts. She had fought the good fight, she had finished the race and was now reunited with her beloved parents and brothers and all those marked with the sign of faith that had preceded her. My life is richer for having known her and I would wager to bet that anyone whose life she touched would claim the same thing.
The back of her prayer card sums it up best, another quote from the feast of St. Agnes…
“What I longed for, I now see;
What I hoped for, I now possess;
in heaven I am espoused to Him
whom on earth
I loved with all my heart.”