Sister Dolores Frances Crepeau, CSJ
We are here to celebrate the life, and the entrance into eternal life, of our beloved sister, Sister Dolores Crepeau.
I met Dolores at Saint Brendan’s HS. She was in the class ahead of me and for three years we played Varsity basketball together. I remember her as a fun-loving, self-effacing team member who was kind to everyone. Back then, a number of Brendan’s girls entered our community; some left; but Dolores stayed; and for the next 55 years, until her death last Dec. 31st, she lived a fulfilled life of joyful service as a Sister of Saint Joseph.
Dolores was born in 1949 to her loving parents Mary and James. She grew up in Flatbush and attended Holy Cross elementary school. She graduated from Saint Brendan’s in June 1967 and later that summer entered the Sisters of Saint Joseph. Sister Dolores went on to attain various degrees and certifications. After graduating from Saint Jospeh’s College in 1973, she completed a Master’s degree, and later, a Professional degree in Counseling both from Fordham University. To those degrees she added certifications in six distinct areas including Administration and Supervision, Counseling and Psychological Services, and Alcohol Counseling.
Dolores put all that education at the service of the young people of the Diocese of Brooklyn. Fresh out of college in 1973, she arrived here at Saint Francis Xavier elementary school, to teach religion and science. Though she moved on from Saint Francis in 1978, she never really moved far away. Her next mission was right down the street at Saint Augustine’s, and was followed by years of service elsewhere in the diocese of Brooklyn as a guidance counselor and principal.
When Sister Dolores left Fontbonne Hall Academy in 2013, after 8 years as principal, students and faculty were heartbroken. In fact, the announcement of her death on Fontbonne’s social media pages brought an outpouring of affection and heartfelt sadness at her passing, not only from Fontbonne alum but from students who benefited from her presence at OLPH, at Kearney, at Our Lady of Guadalupe and the other schools where she ministered. Multiple posts recalled how she dealt with every student and situation with great concern and compassion. Many remember her care and concern after the devastation of hurricane Sandy which left some students homeless. Whether as a counselor or administrator, Sister Dolores was beloved for her kindness, and recognized for her great dedication to education with various awards.
In 2003, she was honored by the NY Times, with the Teachers who Make a Difference Award and, in 2005, the NY Daily news honored her with the Hometown Hero of Education Award. In 2010, Saint Francis College, Brooklyn conferred on her the honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters in recognition of her outstanding contribution to Catholic education. In 2012 she was named one of Brooklyn’s Top Women in Business and in 2013 she was honored by the Diocese of Brooklyn for 40 years of service in the ministry of Faith Formation. In a feature article in the NY Times in May 2012, she was described, “An Irreplaceable Principal,” and that is how many will remember her.
For the people of this parish, where she lived for 50 of her 55 years in religious life, Sister Dolores was a neighborhood nun, living out the call to love of God and neighbor without distinction, which is the mission to which every Sister of Saint Joseph is called. From her earliest days in the community, Dolores went out of her way to lend a hand, offer a word of assurance, and lift someone up who needed a smile or a kind word. Until the end, she was a model of joyous service, and an indefatigable minister who rose to every challenge. She was always a faithful and true daughter of Joseph, and a model of humble, joyful service. Like the star that guided the wise-men to the Christ child, by her life and her work, Sister Dolores led many to Christ.
Now she is united with her parents, her deceased relatives, and all the deceased members of the Congregation, enjoying the eternal life promised to all those in Christ who have dedicated their lives to His gospel. And so to our Sister Dolores we say, “Well done, good and faithful servant, … Enter into the joy of your lord.”
Now, I am happy to introduce Sister Helene Conway who enjoyed a long and loving relationship with Dolores throughout these many years.
Sister Maria Pascuzzi
I have tried for the past few days to think of what I could say about Dolores in just a few words – how I could capture the essence of who Dolores was.
It has been said “When through one person’s life, a little more love and goodness, a little more light and caring comes into the world, then that person’s life has had meaning. If that is true, then Dolores’ life definitely had meaning – for she was loving and good. She brought light into the lives of all who knew and loved her. She was loyal, faithful and committed.
If you were to scan Dolores Crepeau’s resume, such descriptors as “Teachers Who Make a Difference” from the New York Times or “Home Town Hero Educator” from the Daily News would immediately catch your attention. Surely the conferral of Doctor of Humane Letters from Saint Francis College would give you additional recognition of the regard paid to her abilities as an academic leader and administrator. But perhaps the greatest insight into Dolores Crepeau, Sister of Saint Joseph, administrator, counselor, teacher, and catechist are the words from St. Paul printed on the last page of her 50th Jubilee Mass booklet, words with which she lovingly addressed to family and friends gathered to celebrate with her:
“I thank my God whenever I think of you, and every time I pray for you, I pray with joy.”
This is the Dolores that many in her life were fortunate to know, the one who joined her life of prayer with her everyday tasks and responsibilities. The Sister who prayed with, and for her students when they experienced personal difficulties, all the while able to offer gentle correction and suggestions for more positive ways of doing things. The administrator who recognized talent in others and brought them into situations where they could both contribute and grow. The teacher who recognized the difficult child in the classroom was often dealing with something deeper than a math problem. And in every instance, she enabled the person she helped to recognize their own special gifts and talents, a true source of joy in her own life. She was always there to help others be the best version of themselves – the persons God created them to be.
Dolores was able to see that whole person, no matter the age or situation. She offered positive recommendations for students to advance in their studies and professions, accepting the truth that our students remain our students well beyond the limited time in the classroom. She was also able to offer wise counsel to adults who often faced life-threatening personal problems or simply needed someone to listen. So many have shared the positive impact Dolores has had on their lives.
As a daughter of Brooklyn, Dolores loved her roots and was proud of her ties to her old neighborhood and friends. Most especially, she loved her family with a deep and abiding love, recounting their achievements with pride, and ever concerned for their welfare. She showed the joy she felt in her relationships with them when recounting anecdotes from childhood, experiences which she used to grow, and which helped her relate to others
Dolores loved being a volunteer catechist here at SFX – for 45 years in the 4th grade and the children here loved her. They couldn’t wait to get to the 4th grade and have Dolores as their teacher. And she loved getting those Diocesan awards for 25, 30, 35 , 40, 45 years of catechetical ministry because she saw them as signs of her striving to make the Gospel more alive in the lives of the children – and she did that so well.
Xaverian Convent was her spiritual and physical home for many years. Her Sisters were truly family, and she was always willing to offer assistance. Celebrations of house birthdays and other special events always took precedence over anything else, and she could always be counted upon to be the driver. Driving was one of her passions.
Dolores loved being a Sister of St. Joseph -I think every cashier in any store we visited knew that because Dolores would always strike up a conversation with them and always mentioned that we were Sisters of St. Joseph much to my consternation since I tend to be a bit more private about my life than she was . When I would tell her after – if you must tell everyone who you are please say I am a Sister – not we are Sisters .She would then berate me with “Aren’t you proud to be a Sister of St. Joseph” And we would move on to the next store where history would repeat itself. On every medical form I filled out for her even in her limited capacity recently she would always remind me to put Sister in front of her name. She was a true daughter of Joseph and very proud of that.
All of these gifts which Dolores so lovingly shared came with a price tag as they often do. Serious illness from young adulthood accompanied her at every part of her journey. Doctors, medications, and surgical repairs were as much a part of her life as her formation, growth and life as a Sister. Yet each new obstacle was accepted as a challenge, and where she could have fallen into bitterness and regret, she met each problem with a firm resolve. She was in pain every day of her life for years but never really complained and never let that hold her back from her ministry or the tasks at hand.
Colleagues and friends hearing of her passing reflected on the kindness she showed, the ability she had to recruit the most reluctant to join in a positive journey, and her faith, which illuminated her daily life. Dolores, as we reflect on your life and work today, we can return your reflection from St. Paul
As we say to you:
“I thank my God whenever I think of you, and every time I pray for you, I pray with joy.”
Dolores has gone home to God but she has left behind beautiful memories –
The memory of a deep love for family and friends
The memory of a fun loving, independent spirit
The memory of a remarkable openness to life and an enthusiasm for living
The memory of a strong, wise, compassionate, faithful woman who strove to be all that God created her to be so that she could bring others to the God she loved and served so well.
Let us hold on to those memories – withgratitude, with affection and with great pride for having known Dolores and for having shared in her life.
Dolores, we all say to you today
Thanks for your love and faithfulness
Thanks for the wonderful memories.
May you be at peace now with your Creator who we can be sure welcomed you tenderly on New Year’s Eve, saying: Well done, good and faithful daughter.”
Sister Helene Conway