Dolores Hope dies at age 102; was supporter of numerous Catholic causes

DOLORES HOPE--Dolores Hope, wife of entertainer Bob Hope, died Sept. 19 at age 102. The couple were members of St. Charles Borromeo Church in North Hollywood and their legacy includes funding Our Lady of Hope Chapel at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington. Her husband died in 2003. (CNS photo/Fred Prouser, Reuters)
Dolores Hope, a life-long Catholic who was the widow of comedian Bob Hope and an entertainer in her own right, died Sept. 19 at age 102 at her home in Toluca Lake outside of Los Angeles.
A family spokesman said she died of natural causes.
“Dolores Hope was a Catholic of deep and abiding faith, and her own spiritual journey was her highest priority,” Los Angeles Abp. Jose H. Gomez said in a statement. “Her deep life in Christ was the spring board for her charitable giving to countless ministries, apostolates, and works of mercy across the country, and around the world.”
“Both the entertainment world and the Church have lost a woman of profound faith, gifted musical talent, and dedication to the betterment of peoples worldwide,” he said. “The death of Dolores Hope leaves a huge void in Southern California.”
With her husband, Mrs. Hope supported numerous Catholic causes over the years and continued to do so after his death in 2003. Among other efforts the couple were the benefactors of the Chapel of Our Lady of Hope of Pontmain, France, at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington.
News reports said funeral services for Mrs. Hope would be private, followed by burial next to her husband at the Bob Hope Memorial Garden in the San Fernando Mission in Mission Hills.
Mrs. Hope and her husband were longtime members of St. Charles Borromeo Parish in North Hollywood. But it wasn’t until 1996 that Bob Hope officially became a member of the Catholic Church. She and Bob had been married 69 years when he died July 27, 2003. Dolores was praised as an instrument in her husband’s baptism into the Church.
“Dolores has always known the gift of faith is the greatest gift you give,” said Card. Theodore E. McCarrick, at a memorial Mass celebrated for Bob in August 2003 at the national shrine. The cardinal, then-archbishop of Washington, was a longtime friend of the Hopes.
Born Dolores DeFina May 27, 1909, to an Italian father and an Irish mother in Manhattan’s Harlem neighborhood, Dolores grew up in the Bronx. After her father’s death, she and her sister were raised by their mother.
During the 1930s, Dolores began a singing career as Dolores Reade on the advice of her agent. In 1933, after appearing at a Manhattan nightclub, she was introduced to Bob Hope.
The two were married Feb. 19, 1934, and she joined his vaudeville act. They later adopted four children–Nora, Linda, Kelly, and Anthony, who died in 2004. The family moved to Hollywood in 1938 so Bob could launch his film career. Dolores had left show business so she could stay home to raise their children.
THE HOPES--Dolores Hope is pictured in 1998 with her husband, entertainer Bob Hope, in Toluca Lake, CA. The couple were members of St. Charles Borromeo Church in North Hollywood and their legacy includes funding Our Lady of Hope Chapel at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington. Her husband died in 2003. (CNS photo/Fred Prouser, Reuters)
In the 1940s, Dolores began helping her husband on his tours entertaining US troops overseas and she would continue to do so for more than 50 years. In 1990, she was the only female entertainer allowed to perform in Saudi Arabia. It was Bob’s last trip to entertain US troops.
At age 83, she revived her singing career and recorded her first compact disc, “Dolores Hope: Now and Then.” She followed this with three additional albums and also recorded a Christmas CD with Bob entitled “Hopes for the Holidays.”
Among the many Catholic charities the Hopes supported was Catholic Relief Services, the US bishops’ overseas relief and development agency. In 1999, the couple matched actor Paul Newman’s $250,000 donation to CRS to assist Kosovar refugees with a quarter-million dollars of their own.
They were among the first contributors of the Big Shoulders Fund, a nonprofit Chicago organization whose contributions go to inner-city Catholic elementary and secondary schools. In 1988, they received the first Big Shoulders Award.
In his statement, Abp. Gomez noted that the Archdiocese of Los Angeles benefited regularly over the years with the couple’s “generous donations to innumerable projects and programs,” including the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels building program.
Mrs. Hope received many honors over the years, including the Patronal Medal bestowed by the national shrine in Washington and The Catholic University of America; the National Council of Catholic Women’s first Distinguished Service Award; and the Cardinal Award, presented by Card. Roger M. Mahony, when he was archbishop of Los Angeles.
She was one of the first women in the world to become a Dame Commander with Star of the papal order of St. Gregory the Great, bestowed by Pope John Paul II.
“All of us were gifted through her deep faith and her untiring spirit to help improve the lives of so many people everywhere,” Abp. Gomez said.

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Catholic military archdiocese sees rise in priestly vocations

MILITARY CHAPLAIN--Augustinian Fr. Edson Wood, brigade chaplain at the US Military Academy, greeted Cadet Christopher Dante of San Diego before celebrating Mass at Camp Buckner in West Point, NY. (CNS photo/Gregory A. Shemitz)

The Archdiocese for the Military Services in the US is welcoming a steady increase of priestly vocations after declining numbers in recent years.

The upcoming fall academic year will greet 31 new seminarians compared with 23 last year, 12 in 2009, and only three in 2008.

Fr. Kerry Abbott, OFM Conv. and director of vocations, noted that the rise in numbers is due to recruiting efforts as well as Catholic bishops around the US agreeing to co-sponsor seminarians.

Fr. Abbott said that the archdiocese “is most grateful” for the bishops’ support and explained that co-sponsorship involves a diocesan bishop accepting a young man as a seminarian who will then participate in the Chaplain Candidacy Program of one of the branches of the US armed forces.

The process then requires a bishop agreeing to release the seminarian for service as a military chaplain after three years of pastoral experience as a priest in his diocese. When the priest leaves military service, he will return to the diocese.

“This is one of the ‘untold stories’ of the blessings of the Holy Spirit upon the Church and those faithful fervently seeking to respond to the voice of God,” Fr. Abbott said.

The vocations director said he expects anywhere from five to 10 more men to enter seminaries next year, and that the archdiocese is currently processing hundreds of inquiries from prospective military chaplains.

He also said that the timing couldn’t be better in light of the  US armed forces experiencing a steady decline in Catholic military chaplains over the past 10 years as priests reach the military retirement age of 62. The number of military priests is down from more than 400 active in 2001, to 274 this year.

COST OF 9/11 AND THE WARS--More than 200,000 people have died as a result of the 9/11 terrorist attacks and the wars that followed. (CNS graphic/Emily Thompson)

Statistics from the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) at Georgetown University, show that nearly 10 percent of men ordained as US Catholic priests over the past two years had previously served in the military with another 10 percent coming from military families.

“When you think about it, this makes complete sense,” Fr. Abbott said. “Both the military and the priesthood rely on a largely common set of foundational values, including a commitment to service, self-discipline, and a higher calling.”

“So it should come as no surprise that so many of our seminarians come from a military background and a growing number are looking to go back to the life they know after ordination.”

Fr. Abbott said the influx of seminarians poses a “delightful dilemma” on how to pay for the 50 percent share of the students’ five-year education. In just three years, the archdiocese’s annual seminary bill has climbed from less than $40,000 to more than $350,000.

The Knights of Columbus recently announced a new “Venerable Fr. McGivney Military Chaplain Scholarship” that will provide $200,000 a year over the next five years for the seminarians. The archdiocese is now in search of additional funding sources to make up the difference.

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Military archdiocese sees increase in Catholic military chaplains

The US Archdiocese for the Military Services is reporting an increase in the number of seminarians who want to become military chaplains. For the 2011-2012 academic year, there are 31 co-sponsored and military-affiliated seminarians. Last year there were 23; in 2009-2010 there were 12 and the previous year only three. Co-sponsorship means that a diocesan bishop agrees to accept the seminarian who will participate in the chaplain candidacy program of one of the branches of the US armed forces. The bishop agrees to release him for service as a military chaplain after three years of pastoral experience as a priest in his diocese. When the priest leaves military service, he returns to the diocese. Conventual Franciscan Fr. Kerry Abbott, director of vocations for the military archdiocese, called the increase one of the “untold stories” of spiritual blessings. He said Catholic seminaries in the US and the Pontifical North American College in Rome are straining to accommodate the influx of seminarians and many seminaries have converted guest rooms to seminarian quarters. The outlook for future vocations is just as bright, he said. The archdiocese is currently processing hundreds of inquiries from prospective military chaplains. Fr. Abbott expects anywhere from five to 10 more to enter seminaries next year, with still more to come in years to follow. The timing could not be better. The US armed forces have seen a steady decline in Catholic military chaplains over the past 10 years as priests reach the military retirement age of 62. Their numbers are down from more than 400 active in 2001 to 274 this year. ©CNS

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Japanese gather in prayer to mark six months since multiple disasters

Schoolgirls observe a minute of silence for victims of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami in Ishinomaki, Japan, Sept. 11, six months after the disaster struck. (CNS photo/Kim Kyung-Hoon, Reuters) Sept. 12, 2011)

The church bell tolled at 2:46 p.m., marking six months since the March 11 earthquake and tsunami in eastern Japan. Throughout the nation Sept. 11, Japanese gathered for memorial services and to offer prayers for the more than 20,000 people who died and the hundreds of thousands made homeless in the disaster, which also triggered a nuclear meltdown. The Japanese bishops’ conference and the National Christian Council in Japan conducted a joint memorial service at the United Church of Christ’s Shitaya Church. Approximately 180 people gathered for the service, which also had the support of the Japan Evangelical Association, reported the Asian church news agency UCA News. The congregation offered prayers in memory of the victims, for the recovery of the worst-affected regions, and for a swift resolution to the nuclear crisis that arose in the wake of the tragedy.UCA News reported that Abp. Peter Takeo Okada of Tokyo participated. During the ecumenical gathering, Isao Tadokoro of Caritas Japan gave a short account of the Catholic Church’s relief work in the disaster area. Similar memorials for the dead and prayers for renewal in the disaster-struck areas were conducted throughout Japan. The president of the bishops’ conference, Abp. Leo Jun Ikenaga of Osaka, composed texts for the prayer of the faithful to be offered on the occasion. He urged all bishops to use them during the Sept. 11 Masses, UCA News reported. ©CNS

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Cross always present in late nuncio’s life, USCCB head says at memorial

Abp. Pietro Sambi, the late Vatican nuncio to the US, “viewed his diplomatic vocation, as an ambassador of the vicar of the crucified one, as an extension of the invitation to mercy, reconciliation, unity, peace and life inherent in the Triumph of the Cross,” Abp. Timothy M. Dolan of New York said Sept. 14. Abp. Dolan, president of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, was the principal celebrant and homilist at a memorial Mass for the Italian prelate at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington. The nuncio, who died July 27 at age 73, “saw the cross in his varied diplomatic missions, in the poverty and oppression of peoples, in religious acrimony and war,” said Abp. Dolan. “We bishops of the US will never forget the warm, personable manner in which he summoned us to be ambassadors of the healing and reconciliation won by Jesus on the cross, and be ever grateful for the tender way he unfailingly responded to our own needs.” Dozens of US bishops, many of them in Washington for a meeting of the USCCB Administrative Committee, concelebrated the Mass. Sept. 14 is the feast of the Triumph of the Cross, which Abp. Dolan used as a theme in his homily. While Abp. Sambi’s service in the Vatican’s diplomatic corps was important, Abp. Dolan said, “what is of far more profound meaning and of everlasting consequence in his life was that the cross of Christ, triumphant over sin, Satan, and death, was on his heart.” ©CNS

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