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Thursday, September 22, 2011

Archbishop Gomez Recalls Dolores Hope's 'Deep, Abiding Faith'

The widow of entertainer Bob Hope and supporter of many Catholic charities died Sept. 19 at the age of 102.

By Kevin J. Jones (CNA)

Bob Hope and his wife Dolores attend a function in 1989
Dolores Hope, the widow of entertainer Bob Hope and a supporter of many Catholic charities, was a Catholic of “deep, abiding faith,” Archbishop José Gomez of Los Angeles said in tribute to her life.

“Both the entertainment world and the Church have lost a woman of profound faith, gifted musical talent and dedication to the betterment of peoples worldwide. The death of Dolores Hope leaves a huge void in Southern California,” he said. 

“May she now enter into that eternal life and light prepared for her by the God whom she loved so fully and deeply.”

She died Sept. 19 at the age of 102.

She was born Dolores DeFina in New York on May 27, 1909. During the 1930s she sang in nightclubs under the stage name of Dolores Reade. She met her future husband when he attended a New York show, The Washington Post reported. They married in 1934 and soon performed vaudeville together.

She raised four adopted children as her husband performed in popular movies and entertained American armed forces during wartime tours with the United Service Organization. Hope appeared in many of her husband’s television specials and sometimes accompanied him on his tours for service members.

Hope returned to singing in 1993. She recorded several albums.

Archbishop Gomez said Hope practiced her faith regularly and transformed her home in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Toluca Lake into “a special sacred space.”

He noted that she kept a “beautiful and peaceful” chapel in their home and frequently asked friends to gather for retreat and recollection. She had “a large collection” of books on spiritual topics and encouraged friends to read them.

She was close friends to many priests and religious sisters as well as cardinals, archbishops and bishops.

“Her deep life in Christ was the springboard for her charitable giving to countless ministries, apostolates and works of mercy across the country and around the world,” Archbishop Gomez said.

The Archdiocese of Los Angeles benefited regularly from the Hope family’s generous donations. Dolores and her husband were early supporters of the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels building program.

“All of us were gifted through her deep faith and her untiring spirit to help improve the lives of so many people everywhere,” the archbishop said.

Pope John Paul II gave Bob and Dolores Hope the honor of being a Knight and Dame of St. Gregory the Great with Star. She was one of the few women in the world to be presented with the title.

Among her many other honors from Catholic institutions, she received Catholic University of America’s Patronal Medal and the Terence Cardinal Cooke Humanitarian Award from Our Lady of Mercy Medical Center in New York City.

The Bronx native has a street named after her in her home borough.

She is survived by two daughters and a son, four grandchildren and a great-grandchild.

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