Frances Dolan, BVM (Franciscus)

Frances Dolan, BVM (Franciscus) died Thursday, May 18, 2017, at Caritas Center in Dubuque, Iowa. Visitation/wake will be from 9–10:15 a.m. on Tuesday, May 23, in the Marian Hall Chapel followed by a Sharing of Memories at 10:15 a.m. Funeral liturgy will be at 11 a.m. Burial is in the Mount Carmel cemetery.

She was born in Chicago on Nov. 10, 1916, to Fred and Frances M. Temske Dolan. She entered the BVM congregation Sept. 8, 1935, from St. Alphonsus Parish, Chicago. She professed first vows on March 19, 1938, and final vows on Aug. 15, 1943.

Sister Frances taught music in elementary and secondary schools in Pasadena, Glendale, San Francisco, and Santa Barbara, Calif.; St. Louis, Mo.; Milwaukee, Wis.; and Mundelein, Ill. In Chicago, she taught music at Mundelein College, was associate professor of music at Loyola University, and served as music/liturgy coordinator at Wright Hall, a BVM residence.

She was preceded in death by her parents and sister Cecelia Finnegan. She is survived by a cousin and the Sisters of Charity, BVM, with whom she shared life for 81 years.

Sister Frances Dolan, BVM (Franciscus)
Funeral Welcome
Marian Hall, May 23, 2017

Good morning and welcome to the celebration of life of Sister Frances Dolan.

Frances always liked the familiar Taize hymn, “Jesus Remember Me.” Although it is a hymn frequently associated with Good Friday services, it seems appropriate for this celebration of Fran’s life. How could our loving Creator not remember Frances Dolan, born in Chicago on Nov. 10, 1916, to her Irish father and dear German mother, Frederic and Frances Temske Dolan, joining her older sister, Cecilia.

Frances’ musical talents were nurtured by her mother, who insisted that she practice, practice, practice . . . even when Fran would rather have been doing something else. It was from her mother that Fran learned compassion for the poor, unconditional love, and grew in a healthy sense of self-confidence. Her mother had enough confidence in her youngest daughter to trust she could learn to drive long before her little legs could even reach the pedals. One of Frances’ favorite prayers was, “My Mother, my confidence.” Perhaps this prayer had as much to do with her mother’s confidence in Frances as it had to do with Frances’ confidence in her own mother, which overflowed to Mary.

By the time Frances entered the congregation on Sept. 8, 1935, her mother had died, leaving a deep wound in Frances’ young heart and possibly creating in her the great sensitivity she felt for those who suffer the pain and sorrows of life. Frances received the name Franciscus upon her reception on March 19, 1936, and professed first vows on March 19, 1938, living 81 years as a BVM.

After her profession, Fran began her lifelong ministry as a talented and dedicated music teacher. In Paul’s second letter to Timothy, Paul says, “I have done my best in the race.” She certainly did her best wherever she ministered. Her music ministry first took her to Mount Carmel in Wichita, Kan., then on to California to teach at St. Philip in Pasadena, Holy Family in Glendale, St. Paul HS in San Francisco and Bishop Garcia Diego HS in Santa Barbara. In addition, she was missioned at Xavier HS in St. Louis, Holy Angels Academy in Milwaukee and Carmel HS in Mundelein. Later she was a music instructor at Mundelein College and Loyola University, and a liturgical music coordinator at Wright Hall, all in Chicago.

Not only did Fran teach music, she also sewed costumes, constructed stage sets, planned the choreography, rehearsed with lead singers and chorus lines, patiently taught individual piano and voice lessons, gave numerous lecture-recitals, served as liturgist and even helped build a five octave concert Flemish harpsichord from a do-it-yourself kit! No wonder Fran thought it was time to leave this life, having run the full distance and kept the faith.

Among Fran’s few remaining possessions is a beautiful batik fabric from Ghana. It reads:

 Some people come into our lives and quickly go.

Others stay for a while and leave footprints on our hearts.

And our lives will never, ever be the same again.

 Many of us here in this chapel, as well as her faithful students and friends, know that Fran has left her footprints on our hearts and our lives will never be the same. We remember her as an intelligent, sensitive, talented, charitable and gracious woman, who poured herself out for others. She had a good sense of humor and accepted everyone as they were. She was kind but did not make a big show of her good deeds. She worried about us and about our hurting world. She wanted us all to be happy. For all this, a great reward awaits her!

During this celebration, we will sing, “We remember how you loved us to your death, and still we celebrate, for you are with us here.” Those words are not only true of our relationship with Jesus Christ, but they are fitting words for all of us who have had the privilege and joy of knowing and loving and being loved by Fran.

Fran loved Mary Frances Clarke and read and prayed from the retreat book, Walking the Beatitudes, compiled by Sister Mary Frances Reis. Fran would say, “Mary Frances Clarke was some special lady! Her words were so direct and honest. She called a spade a spade. Sometimes I just have to laugh aloud at what she had to say. Other times I say, ‘You’re right on!’” One of the passages that Frances had underlined in the book was a prayer which can give comfort and hope to us this morning and in the days to come:

Mary Frances Clarke, and all you holy BVMs, associates, friends and saints in heaven. Walk with us.

Fran, we know that Jesus has not only remembered you, but has brought you into the fullness of Light and Love. We remember you with love and trust that you will always remember us until we meet again to sing the praises of our God in perfect harmony.

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