Sister Mary Dolora was the model of service

Published 6:29 am Saturday, October 30, 2004

By By SPIROS GALLOS Niles Daily Star
NILES - Even when a sickness prevented Sister Dolora Geraghty from physically attending to her duties as director of the Christian Service Organization, she still sent orders for the group from her bed.
Sister Dolora passed away at 9:15 a.m. Friday, after a brief battle with pancreatic cancer at the age of 82.
Kathryn Grace Geraghty, born on April 22, 1922 in Chicago, Ill., was one of eight children born to Frank and Theresa Geraghty.
She attended St. Theodore's Grade School in Chicago, Ill. and after completing the eight grade, she decided to become a nun. In February 1940, at the age of 17, she entered St. Mary's Convent in South Bend, Ind. and in August of that year, received her name, Sister Mary Dolora.
Two years later she was officially accepted into the Congregation of the Holy Cross. She continued her studies at Saint Mary's College, earning a degree in Education.
Shortly thereafter she returned to her hometown of Chicago where she began teaching and also earned a master's degree from DePaul University.
She then embarked on a career of service in which she served as teacher and/or principal at a number of Catholic grade schools in Indiana and Illinois.
In 1974, Sister Dolora began working in the parish ministry for Catholic Charities of Chicago.
She arrived in Niles five years later, taking charge of the food pantry program, then housed in the basement of St. Mary's Convent in Niles.
It was in 1979, when Sister Dolora arrived in Niles, that she organized the Christian Service Organization.
In 1988, concerned parishioners pulled together to build the new home for the pantry at its current location in the Christian Service Center located at the corner of Clay and State streets.
The pantry assists about 100 needy families a month and even more during the holidays.
If there was any community project or service that St. Mary's offered, Sister Dolora played some part in organizing or directing it.
Through her work as director of the Christian Service Organization, Sister Dolora visited the sick, held bingo games for seniors, and offered coffee and donuts on Sundays during the winter months.
She organized the spring and Christmas arts and crafts bazaars, and made Thanksgiving baskets for the needy.
She also organized the junior volunteer program through St. Mary's, which got fifth and sixth grade students involved in helping in the community.
Sister Dolora was a huge fan of the Notre Dame football team and she shared that love with the community.
Every year, the church would raffle tickets to Notre Dame football home games.
Every program Sister Dolora was a part of raised money for the organization or for scholarships offered to students at St. Mary's School.
With her passing, Sister Dolora leaves a very difficult hole to fill at the Christian Service Organization, acting director Pat Saxton said.
Center volunteer Sue Nietch described Sister Dolora as someone who could ask a favor of a volunteer and no volunteer would ever turn her down.
Sister Dolora also never asked any more of volunteers than she did herself.
Through all her work in Niles, Sister Dolora never forgot her family in Chicago.
On multiple occasions, she would go back to Chicago for family functions such as the baptism of a young child, first communions, and weddings.
During the celebration of her 80th birthday and 60th year of service to St. Mary's, Sister Dolora told Saxton and Nietch that she would like to visit Ireland before she died.
In September of 2002, just months after her birthday, the three traveled to Ireland to fulfill Sister Dolora's wish.
Saxton and Nietch called the passing of Sister Dolora was like the death of a family member.
Saxton and Nietch said anyone who met Sister Dolora was her friend.
A memorial Mass will be held for Sister Dolora at St. Mary's Catholic Church in Niles at 11 a.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 10.