Sister Dolores Elizabeth Rudden was born in Brooklyn, New York on January 27, 1926 of John and Jane Rudden. When her father died of tuberculosis in his thirties, her mother worked very hard to raise her three sons and two daughters during the Great Depression. Dolores studied medicine at Saint John’s University in New York and attained a Bachelor of Science degree. She entered the U.S. Army as a nurse and served in that capacity during the Korean War. The suffering of the wounded soldiers remained a vivid memory to the end of her life.
Dolores entered our Abbey on May 18, 1954 and left that June. In time, however, she asked to return and was gladly accepted, entering again on May 15, 1958. She made her Solemn Profession on August 20, 1964. In the monastery Sister Dolores served very responsibly as food housekeeper for a number of years. Her singing voice, which was of extraordinary quality and wide range, was a great blessing for us and to hear her rendition of “O Holy Night” at Christmas was a gift from heaven.
As the years went on, she found herself increasingly blind, no matter what was tried to save her sight. She was resourceful and we were glad when she was able to enroll in a veterans’ program for the legally blind offered by the Veterans Hospital. This program helped her learn the things she needed to manage for herself. The program also supplied her with equipment (a special computer), help for learning Braille, and many other useful items to enable her to take care of her personal needs on her own. With this and with her own courage she kept her life as a Cistercian going with prayer, interest, and enthusiasm. One high point was when the Knights of Malta offered her a pilgrimage to Lourdes where she participated with the sick.
Although her last years were marked by increasing disability, Sister Dolores responded in gratitude rather than complaint. She died peacefully in her sleep on the morning of February 22, 2014, the Feast of Saint Peter’s Chair, shortly before the Te Deum was intoned. We cannot help but think that this song of praise was a fitting conclusion to her long life of fidelity, courage and hiddenness in Christ.