Sr. Dolores Procassini, OP, a member of our congregation for 70 years died peacefully at St. Catherine of Siena Healthcare Center in Caldwell, NJ on March 28, 2020 at the age of 89. 

Due to regulations related to the coronavirus pandemic, Sister’s burial was private. A Memorial Mass will be celebrated at St. Catherine of Siena Convent Chapel, Caldwell, at a later date. 

Sr. Dolores exemplified generosity in life and unending gratitude learned from her parents, Nicholas and Angeline (Forte) Procassini. Sister entered the Dominican Sisters of Caldwell on September 8, 1950, received the habit on April 14, 1951, made first profession on April 19, 1952, and final profession on April 19, 1958.

Sister earned her BS in Social Studies and English from Caldwell University, an MA in Spanish from Notre Dame University, IN and an MA in Pastoral Ministry and Spirituality from St. Michael College, VT. 

In her ministry as teacher, pastoral associate and program supervisor, Sister Dolores brought the message of God’s never-failing love to countless children and adults. Sister was a devoted teacher at St. Mary’s in Rutherford, St. Elizabeth’s in Linden, Holy Spirit in Asbury Park, St. Catherine’s in Elizabeth, St. John the Apostle in Clark, St. Dominic Academy in Jersey City, Mt. St. Dominic Academy in Caldwell, Bayley Ellard in Madison and Paramus Catholic in Paramus. As a pastoral associate, Sister ministered at Mt. Carmel Parish in Nutley, St. Anthony Claret Parish in Lakewood and Blessed Sacrament Parish in Bridgeport, CT. Sr. Dolores served as a program supervisor for Catholic Community Services for the Archdiocese of Newark.

Many memories and stories about Sister Dolores remain among us. Some recall that she played the drums in high school. Maybe that explains her love for the jazzy music we’d hear coming from her radio!  We knew she was a terrific cook and loved puttering around the house. But did we know she learned culinary skills from her parents and their restaurant? Oh, yes, she taught Spanish. But did we know that when our College tried weekend classes, although she could not be there on weekends due to other responsibilities, Dolores made cassette tapes for her students (about 15 or so!) They in turn each made them and sent them back to her – all in Spanish!  A pioneer in distance-learning! Then when a young, inexperienced priest was named head of school where she taught, she mentored him so he seemed successful at this challenging assignment. All the while, she taught her Spanish and typing classes! When a high school girl found to be pregnant faced ostracism at school, Dolores whipped up an appropriate wardrobe for her, using her sewing skills to preach the Gospel of compassion. Then there were the trips to Oklahoma where she served on the Board of Las Casas, a Dominican project in the service of Native Americans. What a passion she had for these people! Of course, as we prepare for another Chapter (who knows when it will be??) we remember that she served as the secretary for several chapters.  A time-consuming and exacting ministry for us. How the people in the senior housing building she lived in in Bloomfield loved her and how she looked out for each of them too! Finally we hear the story of the man who unwittingly took her seat in Chapel at Saturday evening Mass. He moved to let her be there and asked afterward why that seat was important for her. “I push the button to open the door for the Eucharistic Ministers,” she replied. A simple service, almost unnoticed! Helping Christ go to those in need.

Now Dolores meets Jesus in person and hears his words, “As long as you did it for one of the least, you did it to Me. Come, share in the banquet prepared for you, Dolores!”  A button pressed. A person admitted! Dolores, keep pressing those buttons for us too, we pray, that we can bring the presence of Christ to others.

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