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Dolores (Sarah James) Doohan, BVM

Sister Dolores Doohan, BVM, (Sarah James), 93, died Sunday, Nov. 28, 2021 at Mount Carmel Bluffs in Dubuque, Iowa.

Visitation and Rite of Committal for Natural Burial were on Tuesday, Nov. 30, 2021. Burial was in the Mount Carmel cemetery. Sharing of Memories and a Memorial Mass were on Thursday, Dec. 2, 2021.

Sister Dolores was born on June 15, 1928, in San Francisco to James and Sarah Cannon Doohan. She entered the BVM congregation Sept. 8, 1946, from St. Paul Parish, San Francisco. She professed first vows on March 19, 1949, and final vows on Aug. 15, 1954.

Sister Dolores was an elementary teacher at Holy Family in Chicago; St. Anthony in Missoula, Mont.; St. Clare in Portland, Ore.; All Hallows in Sacramento, Calif.; and St. Catherine in Kauai, Hawaii.

“Dolly had a generous spirit. She was always willing to share whether it be See’s candy from her beloved San Francisco or an abundance of blueberries shipped to her from Oregon. She lived simply, preferring to donate her stipend to charities that supported the poor, especially children. Her cherished ‘collections’ consisted of a full address book and friends to surround her. In her quiet way, she connected with people, remembering birthdays, sending little notes or calling just to say hello – all ways that quietly said ‘I care.’” (Eulogy, Dec. 2, 2021)

She was preceded in death by her parents and a brother John (Marilyn) Doohan. She is survived by a nephew Kevin (Leslie) Doohan, San Carlos, Calif.; a niece Colleen (Bill) Bockholt, Foster City, Calif.; and the Sisters of Charity, BVM, with whom she shared life for 75 years.


Memorials may be given to Sisters of Charity, BVM Support Fund, 1100 Carmel Drive, Dubuque, IA 52003 or online.

Watch Memorial Mass and Sharing of Memories

Download Eulogy

Download Sharing of Memories

This Post Has 4 Comments
  1. It was Summer of 2012 that I last saw Sister D. I was road tripping across the country from New York City where I spent my summer working as a Certified Nursing Assistant with the Little Sisters of the Poor in the Bronx. I showed up unannounced to 1100 Carmel Drive, and told the kind woman at the reception desk that I was there to visit Sister Dolores Doohan. It had been a little over five years since I had last seen her. I walked into her room and found her lying in bed in a full body cast just gleaming with recognition. The only word I can recall her saying was “marvelous” and reflecting on having received a call from the front desk and wondering what “young lady” would be there to visit her. Not thirty seconds after arriving was she directing me to help myself to some sort of sweet in a box on top of her dresser. Sister D was at peace wherever she found herself, even bedridden in a full body cast after falling she had no complaints. I was taught by Sister D in a small group setting through elementary at St. Clare School in Portland, OR, would walk side by side up 17th St. on our way home after school, and spend many rainy recess days playing Kings in the Corner in her office. Sister D’s presence consumed one with validation, security and hope, a feeling I will never forget. I will continue to be reminded of her message of perseverance when met with adversity and work to be filled with gratitude as she was with each new day.

  2. Well Shep, you lived up to your decades-old nickname (short for “shepherd” to those who were young in the community and welcomed your guidance) Whenever you heard that nickname, you would just smile that little smile of yours, and with that twinkle in your eyes, nod your silent approval. You were a beloved mentor, a profoundly gentle woman, filled with compassion, understanding and empathy. You were openness and acceptance “personified” and lived your grace-filled life with quiet courage. I remember your incredible faith and drive to overcome every obstacle – including those early morning stretching exercise sessions on the dining room floor at St. Clare’s. You will always be a shining example of the “divine” in our world. I will miss your annual birthday cards and holiday greetings filled with BVM news, the sharing of your personal challenges and hopes for the future, and your slipping of worn out $5.00 bills into those birthday envelopes, to share what little you had. It always meant a lot. The world will be a little less kind without you in it Shep, but may you run now, not walk, toward that beautiful light. We loved you as much as you loved us. Rest now dear friend…
    Chris Hannibal

  3. My 4 brothers and I attended All Hallows in the 60’s and 70’s.

    While I do not remember Sister, I remember Sister Mary Noella, Sister Mary Beatrice, and Sister Mary.

    The sound Catholic education we received from the sisters of the Blessed Virgin Mary is greatly appreciated.

    Thank you Sister and thank you all in this wonderful order.

    Martin Meyer

  4. My good brother, Martin, the fourth born, did not completely present the years the Meyer brothers attended All Hallows in Sacramento! I, being the first born, began my schooling there in the 50’s, as did my second-born brother, Nicholas. Sister Mary Sarah James was a part of that experience, a very memorable part!

    Everything said of her was true. She had an abiding, all-encompassing love for her God, the people she met and the world around her. She was a sparkling example of a wonderful soul given to kindness, dedication, inquisitiveness, and optimism. And she was also a bit of a psychological wit!

    Possession of gum or candy at All Hallows was forbidden, unless it was a legitimate part of a home-packed lunch and eaten along with everything else during the lunch period. There were many times over my years there that I witnessed the confiscation of that contraband by the nuns when the rule was broken. Such proceedings gave rise to the speculation that, over time, the nuns had deposited their spoils in an old steamer trunk within the confines of their convent, a tale about which I was both fascinated, yet doubtful. One day during morning recess, I, as a naive third-grade munchkin, approached Sister Mary Sarah James, who was taking her turn as one of the recess monitors, and asked her about the “fabled candy trunk.”

    “Joseph,” she exclaimed, “I’m surprised at you! Do you really think that we nuns would keep such treats for ourselves?”

    Then she blew one of the biggest bubblegum bubbles I had every seen.

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