When I first met Dolores and Bob Hope 30 years ago, I was very impressed with the fact that their home had a chapel. Obviously it had been placed there completely by Dolores. Although the Blessed Sacrament was not reserved there in a private home, nevertheless, the local pastors, who were great friends of Dolores, often offered Mass there, as did I.
I had a warm friendship with Dolores, who died Sept. 19 at the age of 102, because she was a girl from the Bronx, and I grew up across the water in Jersey City. We had all kinds of chats about old New York, but mostly we would talk about life and the spiritual aspects of life.
Dolores was very careful, as far I can remember, never to be critical of private or public people. Her sister, Mildred, came to live with her in her fragile old age. After Bob’s death in 2003, the house was very quiet and prayerful. The help were kind and gentle.
Dolores represented a group of remarkable people who were clear-sighted and determined, and well-balanced Catholics of the old days. It was a wonderful time in Church history, with many public figures both in the clergy and the laity. There was always a healthy sprinkling of devout Catholics in Hollywood. They were led by people like Bing Crosby, Loretta Young and Dolores Hart, who is now a cloistered Benedictine nun.
Toward the end of her life, one would be startled by the clarity of her mind. She had very decided points of view on her own faith and could not be described in religious terms as a liberal or a conservative. She was an old-fashioned Catholic.
Dolores all her life was a realist because she had grown up in the Bronx. Her dad was a well-known singing waiter in the rather popular restaurants that were at 149th Street, which then was main commercial street of the Bronx.
It has often been mentioned that Dolores was very generous to the poor and to good causes, and that is absolutely true. For my own work with priests, she has been a substantial help and also with the work of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal with the poor.
It gave me great satisfaction to offer a novena of Masses for Dolores on her journey into eternity. I suspect that she will take that journey, as she did everything else in life, in a determined yet at the same time modest and almost self-effacing way. She did not put herself at the center of the scene. I look forward some day on the Other Side to meeting Dolores again.
Father Benedict J. Groeschel is the host of “Sunday Night Prime” on EWTN and the author of several books, including “After This Life” (OSV, $12.95) and “Praying Constantly” (OSV, $14.95).