Mother Delores Hart inspires women attending national conference

The theme of the National Council of Catholic Women’s Conference was "Caring for God's Creation". (Wikimedia Commons, photo by Jasperseth52)

ATLANTA—The story of Mother Delores Hart, a leading lady of Elvis Presley who left Hollywood to become a nun, was an inspiration to participants at the National Council of Catholic Women’s Conference.

Susanne Wolfe, president of the South Carolina chapter, said the entire convention was moved by a special presentation to Mother Delores, who received the first Honorary Lifetime Membership Award from the national council. 

As a young woman, Mother Delores was a prominent actress who starred in several feature films, including “Loving You” with Elvis Presley in 1957. Six years later, she left acting to become a cloistered nun in the Abbey of Regina Laudis in Bethlehem, Conn. 

Now the prioress of the abbey, Mother Delores was chosen to receive the award as a distinguished American Catholic woman. 

Wolfe said her story of discernment is inspiring, noting that she is still a voting member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. 

The conference, held at the Renaissance Atlanta Waverly Hotel Aug. 21-24, was a celebration of 99 years of service to the Church. It drew 30 women from the Charleston diocese, who joined nearly 700 of their peers from around the country to pray, reflect on, and celebrate their shared faith. 

The theme, “Caring for God’s Creation”, featured a variety of local, regional and national speakers. Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus Peter A. Rosazza of the Archdiocese of Hartford delivered the keynote.

He was joined by Dan Misieh, founding executive director of Catholic Climate Covenant, and others, who urged participants to answer Pope Francis’ call to protect God’s creation.

Wolfe said she was personally inspired by the liturgies held each day during the convention, which were celebrated by three bishops and an archbishop. In addition to Bishop Rosazza, Mass was led by Auxiliary Bishop Joel Konzen of the Archdiocese of Atlanta, Archbishop Jerome Listecki of Milwaukee, and Bishop William Wack of the Pensacola-Tallahassee Diocese.

Because this year’s convention was held in the Atlanta archdiocese, the SCCCW chapters within that region  were asked to assist.

“We did manpower, plus donations of funds for items needed at the convention,” Wolfe said. “We had a lot of people working behind the scenes.”

There are currently an estimated 350 members of the SCCCW scattered among six deaneries, Wolfe said. The council of Catholic women was started in 1931 under the leadership of Bishop Emmett M. Walsh, the sixth bishop of Charleston. Next year marks the 100th anniversary of the national organization. That convention will be held Aug. 26-29 in Washington, D.C.

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