Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of February 9, 2004
Sister runs the parish
Sr. Dolorese Dery animates Edmonton's oldest parish
By RAMON GONZALEZ
"Being parish administrator is a lot of work, but I love it."
- Sr. Dolorese Dery
After high school, Dery attended normal school in Quebec and made her dream of becoming a teacher come true.
She got her first job in 1959 in her hometown at a Catholic elementary school operated by Missionary Oblate Sisters, whom she soon came to admire. But it wasn't the sisters who recruited her; it was the town's priest. "The priest asked me if I would want to be a sister one day. I kind of laughed at him and said, "Me, a sister?' It didn't seem like it would be me."
But somehow it happened and on Aug. 17, 1960 Dery left home to join the Manitoba-based Oblate Sisters. She professed her permanent vows in February 1963.
"Even if within me I didn't want to (join) because I had what I wanted - to be a teacher - there was something that told me that if I was a sister I could be a teacher all my life," Dery said. Her call came with little fanfare. "I heard no great voices from above but it seemed like I said 'yes' and I was comfortable with that."
Four decades after she embraced religious life, Dery doesn't feel she had to give anything up. "I have no regrets," she said. "I love children and I've got many more than I would have had if I had been married."
Dery taught elementary school in Cold Lake and Nampa for 21 years, until she retired in 1986. In Nampa, near Grande Prairie, she was school principal for five years.
With her teaching career over, Dery felt she could serve in other ministries. But first she had to upgrade her pastoral skills. Her community sent her to St. Paul University in Ottawa to study theology and pastoral animation in French, her native language.
After graduation, she ended up as administrator of St. Joachim's Parish in August 1991. The Oblates of Mary Immaculate, who were in charge of the parish, had decided to hire a lay administrator because they were unable to find a priest.
Her knowledge of the historic St. Joachim's Parish was limited. But as she studied the parish history it dawned on her that her grandfather was a pioneer who had worked on the High Level Bridge and attended St. Joachim's. "That really struck me so I talked to him and I said, 'Grandpa, you were here before I was here so you are going to make sure that I do things right.'"
Dery's dedication and her good nature have paid off and today she is a successful lay administrator. Things run smoothly at St. Joachim's with parishioners involved on several committees. Many of those whom she serves show her their appreciation, either through a little thank you card or a pat on the back and a word of encouragement.
"I get a lot of satisfaction from this job. I'm not in the teaching field anymore but I'm still teaching to promote the Church and the Gospels. And that's very rewarding."
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