In Sister Kathleen Dooley’s early years as a Sister of the Divine Savior, she called on her secretarial skills honed before entering the congregation on September 13, 1964. She served 11 years as Provincial Secretary, but eventually felt God was calling her to pastoral care. After attending the Jesuit School of Theology in Berkeley, Calif., Sr. Kathleen earned basic and advanced certification in Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) at Bon Secours Hospital in Methuen, Mass.
When she returned to Milwaukee, Sr. Kathleen was offered a full-time position as the Christian Chaplain at Mount Sinai Medical Center. For five years she worked with the Director of Chaplaincy, Rabbi Tsvi Schur. She recalled her time at Mount Sinai as an interfaith learning experience. She also came to see pastoral caregiving as a ministry of presence, and said, “It is not so much doing something, but rather being a supportive presence, a listening presence, a caring presence.” She knew she was making a difference after spending time with an anxious patient who told her, “Oh Sister, I feel so much better and do come back.”
In 1985, Sr. Kathleen joined the Pastoral Care Department at Divine Savior Hospital and Nursing Home in Portage, Wis. There, she worked closely with Fr. Bernard Pierick, and came to appreciate the opportunity to serve in an SDS-sponsored institution. She witnessed how all employees – “from administration down to the support services” – live out the Salvatorian mission. Speaking about Divine Savior Hospital, Sr. Kathleen said, “Here, life is of one piece; the people you see in the hospital and those you work with are your neighbors. It’s a warm, encompassing feeling.” She also experienced the rich ecumenical aspect of her health care ministry as she worked with clergy from other denominations. Sr. Kathleen described her ministry saying, “I have learned that it is not what you say at sad moments of people’s lives, but the fact that we are there as a caring presence. It is a ministry of touch, holding a hand, listening, being present. I sure don’t have all the answers, but I can be there in time of need.”
Kathleen was born in Milwaukee on July 11, 1931 to Daniel and Leona (Wambach) Dooley. She attended St. Lawrence School and later St. Rita’s School in West Allis. Her business courses as a student at West Allis Central High School launched her into the work force after graduation. She served as the secretary for the West Allis Board of Education; secretary to the principal of West Allis Central High School; and eventually, secretary to the president of Sterns Electric Corporation. During her working years Kathleen also took evening classes at Marquette University. As she grew professionally, she was also discerning her call to religious life. Kathleen entered the novitiate on August 12, 1965. She pronounced her first vows on August 13, 1967 and final vows four years later. Sr. Kathleen was professed 53 years as a Salvatorian Sister.
After retiring from her pastoral care ministry in 1999, Sr. Kathleen assisted the Provincial Team with special projects, provided hospitality for meetings, served as sacristan for the Community House chapel, and shared reception office duties with other sisters. She also continued to nurture her spiritual life, and completed a course in spiritual mentoring at the Casa Romero Renewal Center in Milwaukee.
In 2009 Sr. Kathleen moved to Salvatorian Sisters Residence (SSR) in Milwaukee. One of her favorite pastimes during her years there was reading in the outdoor courtyard, surrounded by nature. Sr. Kathleen’s health began to fail in 2018 and continued to decline until her peaceful death on December 29, 2020.
Sr. Kathleen was preceded in death by her parents; brother-in-law Clifford A. Pautz, sister-in-law Dorothy Dooley and niece, Janet Pautz. Sr. Kathleen is survived by her sister Nancy Pautz; her brother Daniel E. Dooley, Jr.; nieces Susan Dooley Jambretz, Patricia Dooley Bowen; nephews, Cliff, Warren, Alan, Roger, Jeffrey and Brian Pautz, Bruce Dooley and her Salvatorian Family.
Sr. Kathleen’s private funeral was held at St. Pius X Church in Wauwatosa, Wis. on January 7, 2021 and memorial gifts to the Sisters of the Divine Savior are appreciated.