Sister Dolores Moes
Service with Kindness and Contemplation
Now in her retirement as it was during her full-time ministry, helping others and offering kindness is the simple but deep formula of Sister Dolores Moes’ response to the call of the Gospel.
"I begin my day by sharing my plans with the Lord. ‘If you, Jesus, have other ideas, let me know. Give me your love and grace and together we can make a difference.’ And Jesus usually does!" says Sister Dolores. "I am challenged as I see the need and respond as I am able," she adds.
These two statements seem to summarize the spirituality and sense of mission that Sister Dolores has followed her entire religious life, whether serving as a classroom teacher or principal, caring for her widowed mother Edith after her father Dr. Alvin Moes died, or tending to the needs of the sisters at Mount Loretto Motherhouse or elderly residents at Seventh Heaven home for the elderly in Dubuque.
A promoter and volunteer for many social causes, Sister Dolores energizes her service each day with a holy hour, prayer, sacristy work and daily Mass. Be it her caring for a sister in need, joining activities with Right to Life at all stages, participating in Earth care projects, connecting with her Presentation associate prayer group or Presentation circle group, Sister Dolores carries the message of the Gospel. "Prayer and Mass and the homily are so important to me," states Sister Dolores. "I am blessed to walk with Jesus, Mary, her rosary and my angels daily as the Lord shares what the day holds."
From June to December 2016, in a response to a request from the Presentation associate co-directors, Sister Dolores companioned Robert Mace from Sedona, Florida, in his preparation to become an associate. "We used email to connect every two weeks," says Sister Dolores who accepted a new challenge as an "internet prayer partner." This long-distance mentoring was followed by her participation in Robert’s initiation ritual in January through videoconference technology.
Working weekly with Al, a former inmate, who has come back to his Catholic religion, is a way that Sister Dolores continues her baptismal call to share the Good News of Jesus. "Al shares Sunday Mass and brunch with our community," says Sister Dolores.
Once or twice a month, Sister Dolores helps at the Dubuque Food Pantry. "In my retirement ministry, I feel I am making a difference for others as I see their happiness and gratitude which brings me hope," she reflects. She also participates weekly at the Power of Prayer chapel and in Church Women United, both in Dubuque.
Believing strongly in the adage that "kindness begins at home," Sister Dolores helps her sisters in community, especially in the process of getting older. "One sister is legally blind, another has Alzheimer’s disease. Visiting them or shopping for them and other sisters is important to me," she comments.
Daily elevator signs of the schedule for prayers and activities are one of Sister Dolores’ behind-the-scenes services. For several years, she has arranged for movies to be shown for the sisters living at Mount Loretto. Sister Dolores is also a familiar presence in the infirmary as she is on-call once a month while the nursing staff has a meeting.
Grateful to be of service in her past years of ministry, Sister Dolores recalls the strength and grace she experienced in December 1963 as principal at Our Lady of Mount Carmel School in Lawler, Iowa. She and the staff and pastor had to act quickly when fired destroyed the school. New quarters in a vacant public school building made it possible to resume school in January due to the help of parishioners, other Presentation and Catholic sisters and citizens from surrounding communities.
Sister Dolores also felt strength and grace in 1969 when, as Presentation house coordinator, she was in charge of moving the sisters from the motherhouse at 1229 Mt. Loretta Avenue to 2360 Carter Road. "We needed all the support we had from so many friends and families helping us until all was completed. The sisters adjusted so well to the move," she remembers.
Recalling special travels, Sister Dolores exclaims in gratitude, "Our congregation’s trip to Ireland in 2000 was a special opportunity to be in Nano Nagle’s historical places and brought to life the stories we have known about her.
"A trip to Rome in 1996 to witness our new Archbishop Jerome Hanus receive his pallium has had lasting memories. That journey was shared with the parishes where I served as a pastoral associate in North Central Iowa. Some of our travel group still get together whenever we can," says Sister Dolores.
For Sister Dolores, companions on the journey of life include her family, other sisters, former parishioners and priests and friends throughout the years. She enjoys writing letters, visiting, reading and even going fishing or watching movies with friends. An enjoyable challenge that Sister Dolores never had the opportunity to do before is art class. "I am grateful in my heart for my religious vocation – a true gift. Working with others for love of God, his poor, the sick and to respond to so many needs in the church and the world call me to prayer and help me make a difference," declares Sister Dolores.
In her 80-plus years, Sister Dolores finds energy, strength and inspiration each day. "There are many challenges in living religious life today," states Dolores. "There are many opportunities to live out our Presentation charism of hospitality and our directional statement to minister to those made poor and to Earth. Our prayer life has taken on a more contemplative form and silence is special when so much is going on. We are also blessed with the availability of both land and water exercising opportunities in our home at Mount Loretto."
While still possessing much energy, Sister Dolores Moes chooses a slower pace than in her busier years as she daily integrates her service in a deep love of God and love of neighbor.