By Patrick Downes
Hawaii Catholic Herald
Sacred Hearts Sister Mary Dolorine Pires, scholar, teacher and writer, died April 30 at her congregation’s Malia O Ka Malu Convent in Kaimuki after a lingering illness. She was 96 and 73 years a religious sister.
Her funeral is May 20 in Sacred Hearts Academy’s St. Margaret Mary Chapel. Public viewing begins at 9 a.m., followed by the rosary at 10 a.m., eulogies at 11:30 a.m. and Mass at noon. Burial is 2 p.m. at Hawaiian Memorial Park.
Education was Sister Mary Dolorine’s life. However, while citing “teaching and writing” as her “twin passions,” it was her spiritual vocation that she held paramount.
Three years ago, on the occasion of her 70th jubilee year of religious life, she listed as her primary ministries “eucharistic adoration and intercessory prayer.” Then she added, “teacher of Sacred Hearts novices, listening, communication with people needing a kind word, reflecting on the goodness of God in daily life, and being the heart of Jesus in and for the world.”
“MAHALO!” she wrote in capital letters that jubilee year. “Our good God, my congregation, relatives and friends have truly blessed me. I owe my religious vocation to the inspiration and prayers of many, especially my saintly mother’s.”
“From my earliest years, I dreamt of becoming a foreign missionary (and even a Carmelite!),” she said. “However, as a high school boarder at Sacred Hearts Academy, I saw the sisters keeping perpetual eucharistic adoration and realized that God wanted me to join them.”
Sister Mary Dolorine was born Lucy Theresa Pires in Paia, Maui, the fourth of five children of Frank Medeiros Pires and Mary Cravalho Pires, on July 8, 1920, the eve of the feast of Our Lady of Peace, a feast she came to cherish.
She started her elementary education in public school and completed grades four through nine at St. Anthony School in Wailuku. She attended Maui High School for one year before transferring to Sacred Hearts Academy in Honolulu where she graduated in 1940.
After graduation she taught at Sacred Hearts Convent school in Honolulu and worked during the war as a clerk typist in the U.S. Employment Office.
She entered the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary on Aug. 22, 1942, making her first profession on Sept. 3, 1944, and her final vows on Sept. 3, 1947.
After teaching at Sacred Hearts Convent and then Sacred Hearts Academy, she went on to higher education at Chaminade College of Honolulu and St. Louis University, Missouri, where she earned a doctorate in literature.
In 1970 she was missioned in Rome where she lived for more than 24 years, teaching at the John Cabot International School and the American University, taking courses at the Pontifical Gregorian University, earning a diploma from the Vincent Palotti Institute in 1993 and serving as director for the Sacred Hearts Congregation’s hospitality house in Trastevere.
Upon her return to Hawaii in 1995, Sister Mary Dolorine edited her provincial newsletter, taught courses on the history of her congregation in Hawaii, in particular the life and impact of St. Damien.
Two years ago, Sister Mary Dolorine donated to the Diocese of Honolulu a statue of Our Lady of Fatima created by Portuguese artist Jose Thedim.
A replica of Thedim’s famed traveling statue of Mary, it was a treasured family heirloom, commissioned nearly 70 years ago by Sister Mary Dolorine’s father who traveled to Portugal to make the request personally of the reclusive artist himself.
The statue, exquisitely carved and finely painted, remains in near perfect condition. It is displayed on special occasions.
It’s “a work of art,” Sister Mary Dolorine said. “She’s very simple, but she’s very beautiful.”
Toward the end of her life, Sister Mary Dolorine’s favorite classes were those she taught to the Sacred Hearts brother novices every Wednesday until this past Jan. 7 when she suffered a stroke.
She is preceded in death by brothers Anthony David and Frank Joseph and sister Mary Rita Freitas. She is survived by her sister Julie Frances Tom, her nephew Father Patrick Freitas and niece Henriette Monk.