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Answering the call of God
Mother Dolores Hart Press photo

By Joshua Pilkington

Dolores Hart discusses her reason for leaving Hollywood to become a nun

Dolores Hart was a Hollywood starlet and an accomplished Broadway and TV actress. She made over a dozen movies with some of the most soughtafter actors in Hollywood, but in 1963 she stunned Tinsel Town by choosing to alter her path in life and become a nun. She has written a book about her experience titled “The Ear of the Heart” and has since been touring the nation to promote the book, speak to the public about her journey and sign the book. Last week she spent four days in various sites of Colorado, including St. Mark Catholic Church in Highlands Ranch, which is where La Voz caught up with her.

“I don’t think anything influences you, except the call of God,” Hart said when asked what influenced her to change her path in life. “It hits you like falling in love.”

Hart made her big screen debut alongside Elvis Presley in “Loving You”. She also starred alongside well-known stars like Stephen Boyd, Montgomery Clift and George Hamilton, but none of the glitz and glamour of Hollywood or even an engagement could take her away from what she felt was her real calling.

“I was engaged to a great guy named Don Robinson and he was the man who made me reconsider where I was in life,” she said. “We were leaving a party, and this is while we were engaged, and he told me ‘you don’t look yourself.’ That’s when I realized I had to do this. When I told Don he was furious, but he told me that not every love relationship ends at the alter.”

A nun who took a different path was Mary Helen
Sandoval who spent just over three years at the Sisters of Loretto convent before she realized, she wanted more.

“That was a real struggle for me,” Sandoval told La Voz about her decision to leave the convent. “There was so much of it that I loved, but I found myself deeply longing for a relationship and a family.”

Much like Hart, Sandoval found that she had a calling in life, it just wasn’t the one she was pursuing.

“When I look at my life I think I was called to enter the convent and I also feel like I was really called to be a mother,” the mother of four daughters said. “I don’t have any regrets. In fact I can say I’m very closely related to the Sisters of Loretto in my life as a co-member. By belonging to the Loretto Community I am supporting and acting for peace and looking for justice.”

Another member of the Loretto Community, who taught at the Loretto Heights College that Sandoval attended, is Sister Lydia Peña who told La Voz that she garners her inspiration as a nun from “all persons who give themselves to others — be it with time, talent or treasure.”

“My life as a nun has been rich with a relation with the Spirit of God that keeps deepening and directs my work with a great diversity of people,” Peña told La Voz.

Having served in educational institutions in Denver for 49 years including St. Mary’s Academy, Loretto Heights College and Regis University, Peña
said she is both aware of the challenges and rewards of a nun and educator.

“I am challenged daily to work for justice and act
for peace because the gospel urges me to,” she said.

Currently, Peña said she is working on special projects for the Loretto Community, specifically a philanthropic engagement for a Loretto school in Faisalabad, Pakistan.

It’s the desire to follow that calling, wherever it may take you, that Hart urges anyone considering the path of a nun do.

“If you feel you’re called somewhere, try it out,” she said. “If you don’t like it, you don’t like. Anybody that asks you to stay when you don’t like it … is not worth staying for. You have to know.”

In the cases of Hart, Sandoval and Peña, though the path was different for each, they all knew their calling.





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