Many of you know that Mother Dolores Hart, Prioress of the Abbey of Regina Laudis, and former movie star who gave Elvis Presely his first on-stage kiss, returned to the Academy Awards tonight and walked the red carpet since God is the Bigger Elvis, a film about her past and present life, was nominated for Best Documentary (short subject). Although, she didn’t win, I suppose it is an honor just to be nominated.
And who helped this former movie star discern her vocation to the religious life? None other than Bl. John XXIII! This is what she in an interview about hearing God’s call to become a nun:
In 1959, I was in a play in New York, The Pleasure of His Company. A friend invited me to meet some nuns and she said, “They are very special. I exclaimed, “NUNS! No, I don’t want to meet nuns.”
But my friend said, “Did I ever steer you wrong?” and I said, “No.” So, I came to Regina Laudis — after a few hours here, it has a definite call. You feel you’re in a special place. Well, after the first visit, I kept coming back in between shows. Eventually, I asked the Reverend Mother if she thought I had a vocation. She said, “No, no; go back and do your movie thing. You’re too young.”
I did, and then did some more films: Where the Boys Are and St. Francis of Assisi which took me to Rome. I met Pope John XXIII and he was very instrumental in helping me form my ideas about a vocation. When I was introduced to the Pope, I said, “I am Dolores Hart, the actress playing Clara.” He said, “NO, you are Clara! (“Tu sei Chiara” — in Italian). Thinking he had misunderstood me, I said, “No, I am Dolores Hart, an actress portraying Clara.” Pope John XXIII looked me square in the eye and stated, “NO. You are Clara!” His statement stayed with me and rang in my ears many times.
Here is a video about this simple nun and the adventure of saying “yes” to God. What struck me is that it is quite a romantic tale. It is truly a great love story between Christ, His bride, and her ex-fiance, Don Robinson.