Home » Obituaries » Remembrance of the Life of Sister Marie Dolorosa Simones SL

Remembrance of the Life of Sister Marie Dolorosa Simones SL

Posted on March 27, 2016, by Loretto Community


Marie Dolorosa Simones SL

Feb. 21, 1926 – March 22, 2016

Sister Marie Dolorosa was named Dolorosa Victoria at her baptism in Dubuque, Iowa, in 1926. Her parents, Joseph and Florence, were Catholic Iowans. She had one sister, Florence, who was called Cissy. Their father was part of a very successful business family in Dubuque, so Cissy and Dolorosa, who was called Rodie, grew up in very comfortable circumstance with many material advantages. Rodie acquired her love of exploring the globe at an early age. Her father took the family on extensive vacations, whetting Rodie’s lifelong curiosity about the world.

Rodie was taught by Sisters of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Dubuque through high school and two years of college. At some point the Simones family moved to Denver and Rodie transferred to Loretto Heights College. In a letter dated April 1947 and addressed to Reverend Mother Edwarda, Rodie wrote:

“Dear Mother,

            “I wanted to enter the novitiate after High School but my parents wouldn’t hear of it. I then started college with the BVMs at Dubuque and stayed two years. My present status at Loretto Heights College is that of a second semester junior. My intention was to enter the BVMs but six months with the Loretto Sisters changed my mind. I would very much like to enter the Lorettos next fall.

            “Please send me an application…care of Sister Jane Therese here at the College. I don’t want anyone to know about it for a while.”

Rodie Simones wanted to enter Loretto in the fall of 1947 after her junior year at the Heights. But the record shows that she graduated first, in May 1948 with a major in history and a minor in sociology. She entered the Loretto novitiate that fall, along with Jane Clark, Kay DeMarea, Simone Inkel and Mary Lee Murphy. Rodie received the habit and the name Sister Marie Dolorosa on April 25, 1949; she made her first vows April 25, 1951, and her final vows three years later.

Sister Marie Dolorosa was sent first to St. Ann’s School, Normandy, in North St. Louis County. Four years later, in 1955 she was sent to St. Ann’s in Arlington, Va., where Sister Angelus Caron taught Dolie how to cook. Angelus also taught both Dolie and Maureen Smith (Sister David Maureen) how to create wonderful bulletin boards. In 1961 Dolie was transferred to St. Augustine Elementary School in Lebanon, Ky., and two years later, in 1963, she returned to St. Louis to teach at St. Paul the Apostle School in the North County suburb of Pine Lawn. It was at St. Paul that Dolie became friends with Sisters Dolores Kelledy and Ann Johnson.

In 1967, when individuals were free to choose their place of work, Marie Dolorosa elected to return to her adopted home of Denver and to teach the upper elementary grades at St. Vincent’s School. “Sister D,” as she was known affectionately by her students, taught a total of 53 years, 37 of them at St. Vincent’s in Denver. Social studies and language arts were her strengths and her great love. She was known as an outstanding social studies teacher, a geography teacher par excellence, one who could unerringly draw students into discussion and participation. Marie Dolorosa was named to Who’s Who in American Teachers in 1990. A newspaper article reported at that time, “The [junior high school] classroom is her natural habitat, and her experienced ease within the teaching environment underlies the love she has for her profession.”    

Dolie’s family, who had piqued her interest in world travel as child, continued to support her in traveling for her own and others’ education. She visited Europe a dozen summers in a row, taking with her Sister Margaret Ryan or Sister Jane Mary Mouradian. She made at least three trips to Russia, visited Canada, Mexico and Turkey. Along the way she acquired a magnificent doll collection, gathering dolls from every country to use in her classroom. With her broad travel experience and collections of dolls and other materials, it was said that Marie Dolorosa never taught from a text book.

Marie Dolorosa loved life and enjoyed sharing her loves with others. Dolores Kelledy and Ann Johnson, who house-sat in Denver during summer months, visited Dolie day in and day out. They would travel to Nebraska together for a day’s shopping at the Pendleton woolen outlet. Sister Mary Katherine Hammett recalls that Dolie cooked four-course meals when she and Margaret Ryan hosted their Community Group meetings. Dolie also cooked elaborate dinners every Monday night for St. Vincent’s Monsignor Rasby and other guests. She loved animals and had a dog. She loved to read and had many books. She loved sports; even in the novitiate, she and Sister Maria Louisa organized a baseball team. She loved to drive, had a fancy car given by her family, and let it be known that she was ready at any time to drive Denver sisters wherever they wished to go.

Dolie retired several times from St. Vincent’s, only to return in a part-time capacity. In 2000 she moved to Loretto Center in Denver and in 2005 finally left her work at St. Vincent’s. She moved to Loretto Motherhouse Infirmary in 2009, where she died quietly, March 22, 2016, near the friends with whom she had shared her ready sense of fun and her enjoyment of life.

A note in Sister Marie Dolorosa’s personnel file states that she guided her life by this saying: “Stick close to God and everything else falls into place.”

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  1. Avatar Douglas Kay on April 21, 2016 at 12:00 am

    I remember Sister D very fondly. I was one of very few Jewish children to attend St. Vincent de Paul from 1980-87. I credit Sister D and many other wonderful Nuns for cementing my deep respect and fondness for the Catholic religion. Thank you for all your sacrifices and contributions that make the world a better place for everyone.

  2. Avatar John Clasen on April 22, 2016 at 12:00 am

    My thoughts and prayers to everyone in the loretto community.
    Sister D was simply an amazing person. Loved her dearly and she will be missed.
    From a St V’s 8th grader 1989

  3. Avatar Ted Swan on April 22, 2016 at 12:00 am

    Sister Dolorosa was a wonderful teacher, who made history come alive. She worked very well with kids of different abilities, challenging the better students and reaching kids who needed extra help. Sister Dolorosa had a gift for motivating middle school students, (7’th & 8’th graders) which can be a real challenge.
    May she rest in peace with God.

  4. Avatar Michael on April 23, 2016 at 12:00 am

    SR Delarosa was a fabulous teacher, one of my all-time best. She taught me critical thinking and a love of chess. What a blessed soul !!

  5. Avatar Mary Alice George on April 23, 2016 at 12:00 am

    I loved Sister Dolorosa! I remember that she gave me one of my passions for the Spanish language. She was cheery always, and a very fair disciplinarian. I think the kids respected her so much that she really didn’t have discipline problems at St. Vincent’s. She was a master teacher and I am forever grateful for my association with her. I still kept in touch with her in recent years and she was so happy to see her old St. Vincent’s kids. Rest in peace, sister Dolorosa. You impacted so many kids in that eighth grade classroom.

  6. Avatar Mary DeSimone on April 23, 2016 at 12:00 am

    Sister D was a favorite teacher of mine at St. Vincent’s. She made me love geography, which some may think a boring subject. She also had a very fun sense of humor! I myself had a brief but disastrous career sometime in the last century when I attempted to teach the Jr hi/middle school grades. I have huge respect for how she did that and made the kids respect & love her, as well as captivating them with her stories of far away lands. It speaks volumes of her talents as a truly gifted teacher. I feel lucky that she was mine!

  7. Avatar Jennifer Cole Lee on April 23, 2016 at 12:00 am

    Sister Marie Dolorosa was my favorite teacher of all time. She was a great teacher and a loving soul. I remember her beautiful doll collection. Some of us who recently learned she passed away have been reminiscing on our 8th grade year at St. Vincent’s in 1983. We were so blessed to have her in our young lives and will never forget her. May she rest in eternal peace.

  8. Avatar Patrick and JoAnn Gartland on April 24, 2016 at 12:00 am

    Sister “D” taught all four of our children at St. Vincent de Paul School and all four were saddened to hear of her passing and expressed fond remembrances of Sister D’s class discussions about the world and her love for everything Egyptian. We were privileged to visit with Sister “D” and her fellow teacher Sister John Michael Richie on several occasions when we were passing through and while they were receiving care at the Motherhouse in Loretto, Ky. The staff there was wonderful and cared for them with the same love and devotion that these devout women showered on the children they taught. Both were wonderful women and gifts from our Lord to literally hundreds of children who benefitted from their love and wisdom. We are all better for their vocations. I am sure that they are enjoying their reward with the master they served for so long and looking down fondly on the many students whom they blessed with their presence and guidance,
    JoAnn and Patrick Gartland, Denver, Colorado

  9. Avatar John Treacy on May 3, 2016 at 12:00 am

    Dear Sister Dolorosa was my 6th Grade teacher at St. Ann’s in Arlington, VA. in 1957. I am holding a small photograph of her taken that year. I loved her. She was my favorite teacher. Occasionally, I would not complete my school work or act-up in class. On those occasions Sister Dolorosa would call my parents and tell them that I would be spending the next 5 or 6 hours in the basement of the convent (sufficient time to complete my work and to pray for guidance). However, it was never a punishment. It was a wonderful gift. As I sat at a small table with a dim lamp completing my work (and praying for dinner) in an otherwise dark room, I listened to the Sisters upstairs laughing as they prepared their dinner. I’ll never forget the wonderful smell of the freshly baked bread, and the beautiful sounds of their prayers, and, most of all, their glorious voices as they sang Gregorian chant. Sister Dolorosa always came down and gave me a piece of the hot buttered bread and a hot plate of their delicious dinner – always with a big loving smile and kind words of encouragement. I knew that God sent her in answer to my prayers. She was indeed a blessing to me and to all her students. Sister Dolorosa was an incredibly loving person. She will forever be in my prayers, as will all the Sisters of Loretto.

  10. Avatar Barbara Treacy on May 3, 2016 at 12:00 am

    It will always make me smile to think of Sr. Dolorosa. When I was in the 4th grade at St. Ann’s, I asked what day was her birthday. She whispered in my ear the date, and told me to keep it a secret. Each subsequent year when I collected signatures of friends and teachers at St. Ann’s, she wrote her name, adding “to one who knows and keeps it”. My heart leaped at the thought of her trust in me. Since then, I have never been tempted to betray a confidence. God bless her as she is welcomed into His arms!

  11. Avatar Anna (Wegher) Dubas on May 16, 2016 at 12:00 am

    Sister Dolorosa was a lifelong teacher to me. When taking a test in her history class at SVdP I handed in a very messy paper. She gave it back to me saying she couldn’t read it so please rewrite it for her after school. From that day forward I always wrote neatly in all my work. I also went from being a C/D student to an A student, because she expected it of me, I came to expect it of myself. One day after class another student and I were cleaning up the room and discussing energy sources: nuclear, coal, solar, wind, etc. We decided to ask sister to resolve our conflict. “What is the best source of power?” we asked. “Prayer” she answered.

  12. Avatar Kevin Carey on December 25, 2019 at 4:52 pm

    Sister Delorosa was one of my favorite teachers at St. Ann’s in Arlington. This was about 1960. She was my 5th grade teacher. We had a snow storm and the convent was snowed in with a foot of snow. So, we and a friend went home and got our snow shovels and cleared a car path for the Sisters to get out. Sister Delorosa came out and past out some delicious chocolates that my Pal and I thoroughly enjoyed. I’ll never forget her generosity.

  13. Avatar Greg Maschinot on July 29, 2020 at 4:10 pm

    I remember, with great fondness, the best teacher I ever had. I honestly had a hard time remembering the subjects she taught. She was my homeroom teacher in the 8th grade, and my social studies teacher for 7th and 8th grades. I do remember endless former students coming through the classroom for visits, more than you might possibly imagine. In ‘81 she introduced us to a “life studies” course, part of which was spending a week in a local school for developmentally children. In short an amazing, amazing woman.

    • Avatar Loretto Community on July 29, 2020 at 5:59 pm

      Thank you for your loving comments about Sister Marie Dolorosa, Mr. Maschinot.

  14. Avatar Kevin Carey on August 2, 2020 at 3:10 pm

    As I commented before Sr. Delorosa was enjoyable (that) year at St. Ann’s School in Arlington Va. I graduated from Washington-Lee H.S., and we recently had our 50th reunion. Half of Sr. Delorosa’s class went on to W-L. We spoke of our years at St. Ann’s School and spoke highly of our education at St. Ann’s. I visited the Loretto Motherhouse in 2016 and visited Sr. Angelus, Sr. Maureen Smith, and Sr. Custie. The Nuns had their hands full. Our class picture that was taken the year before we were taught with Sr. Delorosa was on display at our Reunion. A class of over 40 of us. We were the “Baby Boomer” generation after the War. Sr. Angelus taught 1st grade. She was at St. Ann’s just about the time the parish was founded by Father Beatie and stayed for 13 years in 1963 which was when I graduated. That was a lot of First Communion’s.
    I have been union steward for over 40 years and dedicated to social justice. I think Sr. Delorosa would be happy.

    • Avatar Loretto Community on August 3, 2020 at 4:36 pm

      Thank you, Mr. Carey, for sharing your memories of Sister Marie Dolorosa and of other Loretto Sisters and for your longtime work for justice.

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