Sister Kathleen Dooley entered the Sisters of the Divine Savior the same year the Second Vatican Council was drawing to a close. It was 1964. Her struggles and joys discerning life as a Salvatorian Sister coincided with renewal in the Catholic Church. In 1967 Sr. Kathleen made first vows. She began an 11-year ministry doing secretarial work for the SDS Province in Milwaukee. It was a natural fit. She had worked as a secretary for 16 years after graduating from high school.
In the late 1970s, Sr. Kathleen answered God’s call to pastoral ministry. She spent a year at the Jesuit School of Theology in Berkeley, Calif., and then a year in a clinical pastoral education program at Bon Secours Hospital in Massachusetts. When Sr. Kathleen returned to Milwaukee in 1980, she became the first full-time Christian chaplain at Mount Sinai Medical Center. She cherishes her five years there, where she served patients and their family members from diverse faith traditions.
The words of novelist John Steinbeck are the perfect choice for Sister Beverly Heitke to sketch her 60 years as a Sister of the Divine Savior: Oftentimes, we don’t take a journey; the journey takes us. And, you might say we have the Sinsinawa Dominican Sisters to thank for Sr. Beverly’s vocation journey as a Salvatorian.
Twelve-year-old Beverly Heitke was enrolled at St. Mary’s Parish School in Portage, Wis. and taught by Sinsinawa Dominicans. Her admiration for the sisters sparked her interest in religious life. She shared with two of her teachers her dream to become a medical doctor and someday care for needy people in Africa. Since the Dominicans’ ministry focused on teaching, they suggested Beverly speak with the Salvatorian Sisters who owned Divine Savior Hospital in Portage. She soon learned the Salvatorians not only had hospitals but foreign missions too.
Sr. Beverly completed her high school education at the Sisters of the Divine Savor Prep School in Milwaukee and entered the novitiate in 1956. As her novitiate drew to a close, Superior General Mother Olympia Heuel called on Salvatorian Sisters to volunteer for the new mission field in Tanganyika, East Africa. Sr. Beverly volunteered and soon after professing first vows in 1957, boarded an ocean liner bound for Rome, Italy and the Salvator Mundi International School of Nursing.