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.
In 1985, Sr. Kathleen began her 14-year ministry as chaplain at Divine Savior Hospital and Nursing Home in Portage, Wis. She didn’t want to leave Mount Sinai, but she knows she made the right move. The opportunity to work in a Salvatorian institution was one reason. Caring for nursing home residents along with hospital patients was another. Most of all, she loved the family feeling in the small town of Portage. She says, “There, life was one piece; patients and staff were also my neighbors.”
Sr. Kathleen now lives at Salvatorian Sisters Residence in Milwaukee, which provides assisted living services. She says her pastoral care ministry was about entering into the joys and sorrows of others. “Not so much doing something, but being truly present.” Just as she did in her ministry, she depends on the presence of God in her life to sustain her day to day.