STEUBENVILLE, OH—Mother Dolores Hart, a former movie actress who left the glittering lights of Hollywood for life as a cloistered Benedictine nun, spoke to Franciscan University students Friday, March 2, about the importance of vocation and the redemptive nature of suffering.
Hart, now 73, made her film debut in 1957 alongside Elvis Presley in the film "Loving You." But after visiting the Abbey of Regina Laudis in Bethlehem, Connecticut, Hart realized something was missing from her life in Hollywood. After making nine more movies, Hart decided to follow her vocation and became a nun. Hart spoke to attendees about the importance of recognizing and following God's calling, and counseled young people to keep watch for their own vocations.
"I never considered my decision as 'walking away from Hollywood,'" Hart said when speaking with reporters before her talk. "I felt it was more walking into something more significant and by that, I took Hollywood with me."
Hart's life in the convent is not all peaceful, however; she suffers from a painful medical condition known as neuropathy, which can affect mobility and loss of sensation. Hart shared important lessons on suffering she has learned during her illness. She advised attendees to view suffering as a path to redemption and spirituality.
Hart is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and, in February, travelled to Hollywood for the 84th Academy Awards ceremony to celebrate the nomination of a documentary about her transition from starlet-to-nun and her current life in the convent. Hart discussed the documentary, "God is Bigger than Elvis," which will premiere on HBO in April.
Hart's speech was part of the John Paul the Great Fine Arts Lecture series, which was inspired by the pontiff's participation in underground theater and playwriting during his youth in Nazi-occupied Poland.