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Church Clips by Dolores Madlener

Dolores Madlenera column of benevolent gossip

  • Classic-movie lovers —

    Want a good vacation book for summer reading? That would be Mary Claire Kendall’s Oasis: Conversion Stories of Hollywood Legends.” It sends a message through 12 stories of flawed film greats that grace can penetrate the glamour of “lights, camera, action.” Kendall uses interviews with the stars, conversations with their close friends, their own writing and that of other authors, and gathers fascinating tidbits from behind the scenery.

    Conversion stories of 12 Hollywood legends.

    Mother Dolores Hart says in the foreword, it’s “a beautiful journal of people I have loved and respected.” The dozen Hollywood legends within its 224 pages are Gary Cooper, Susan Hayward, Bob Hope, Jane Wyman, John Wayne, Patricia Neal, Alfred Hitchcock, Ann Sothern, Lana Turner, Betty Hutton, Ann Miller and Mary Astor.

    Kendall says it takes detective work to understand the journey that leads up to their conversion. In some cases it was through a good priest. For others, the perseverance and prayers by the Catholic spouse (despite the other’s infidelities or alcoholism), eventually made the difference. Dolores Hope went to Mass every day and prayed Bob would become a Catholic. At the age of 93, the king of comic timing was converted.

    Gary Cooper’s Catholic wife knew he was a good man with feet of clay. She kept the family together for years and their parish priest became a great friend of “Coop.” The family said in the end his Catholic faith helped him cope with cancer. A great pal of Hemingway, Coop told a mutual friend as he was dying, “Tell him … that time I wondered if I made the right decision” (regarding his conversion) — “tell him it was the best thing I ever did.”

    According to the author, while friends said John Wayne was a closet Catholic all his life, he was literally on his death bed when he was baptized, and a Paulist heard his confession.

    Betty Hutton went from being Hollywood’s “blonde bombshell” in the 1940s to losing a fortune, four husbands and a breakdown at age 50. Helped by Father Peter Maguire, she worked several years as his rectory cook and housekeeper, living in the attic. She recovered, became a devout Catholic, and returned to Broadway. With encouragement from Maguire she even graduated cum laude from Salve Regina University with a master’s degree in liberal studies. Betty received the last rites in 2007. Every chapter has an honest “happy ending.”

    These are spiritual love stories Hollywood seldom tells. You won’t want to put it down. Published by Franciscan Media, it’s available in paperback, Kindle or audio CD from

  • Parish potpourri —

    St. Francis de Sales’ (Lake Zurich) jubilee garden has three fields planted in potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, watermelons and more. Their volunteers come out early on Saturday mornings to farm it. The organic produce goes to their St. Vincent De- Paul food pantry and weekly Emmaus House community dinner. . . . You know you’re in western Lake County when the bulletin at St. Bede Parish (Ingleside) announces firewood for sale! The Knights of Columbus have collected dropped trees and are selling seasoned wood once again. . . . There’s a giant billboard at 71st Street and Stony Island Ave. It announces “Augustus Tolton Catholic Academy — the First Catholic STREAM School (Science, Technology, Religion, Engineering, Arts, Math).” It gets the message out about the new merger with St. Dorothy School (E. 78th St.), gives the academy’s location at St. Columbanus Parish (E. 71st St.), and says how to register. . . . Our Lady of Victory Parish (W. Agatite) will have motor coaches for a pilgrimage to Philadelphia for Pope Francis’ visit to the U.S. They’ll depart OLV Sept. 25 and return Sept. 28. If interested, contact Rick Ryan at 773-286-2950.

  • ‘You’re in the priesthood now —

    This spring’s ordination figures, nationwide, show the Class of 2015 will have nearly twice as many military vets as it had in each of the past two years. According to the Georgetown University survey, 24 of 411 ordinands report previous service in the U.S. Armed Forces. According to Father Aidan Logan, vocations director of the Archdiocese for the Military Services, 16 percent of those ordained this year come from military families and 6 percent have served on active duty. “All this is in spite of the drastic shortage of Catholic chaplains in all branches of the military.” He says the real number of new priests with military backgrounds could be higher. Only 69 percent of the 595 men ordained this year responded to the survey.

  • Need something to do? —

    The Women’s Center is seeking students, retired men or women, or others with flexible time M-F 9 a.m.-5 p.m. (a three-hour shift) to volunteer for a variety of little jobs at the Catholic-based outreach that helps women in crisis pregnancies. Their main office is 5116 N. Cicero Ave. Mass in their chapel is available at noon. Call 773-794- 8807 for more info. . . . The pro-life outreach, Aid for Women, held a volunteer service day May 23, at its new Monica’s House, 3954 N. Meade Ave. It began with Mass at nearby St. Pascal Church (N. Melvina), followed by some house cleaning in the former convent. For info on how to support the new residence for young women who have had their babies and now have a transitional home, call Frances at 312-880-9280.