How many nuns can say they once kissed Elvis?
Only one, that we know of. And she’s coming to town in September to speak at the Catholic Diocese of Charlotte’s annual Eucharistic Congress.
Dolores Hart was a 19-year-old actress in 1957 when she made her Hollywood debut opposite the King in “Loving You.”
She paired with Elvis Presley again in “King Creole,” and starred in other movies with Montgomery Clift, Anthony Quinn and others.
But in 1963, Hart walked away from Tinseltown – and her fiancé, an architect – to become a Benedictine nun.
Fifty years later, she’s now Mother Dolores, the prioress at the Abbey of Regina Laudis in Bethlehem, Conn. (abbeyofreginalaudis.org).
Her story was told in “God is the Bigger Elvis,” a riveting documentary that was nominated for an Academy Award in 2012 and later shown on HBO.
Mother Dolores, who’s still a voting member of the Academy, even showed up on the red carpet on awards night in L.A. In that setting, surrounded by actresses wearing the latest gowns from this or that designer, she made quite a fashion statement in her traditional nun’s habit.
Mother Dolores is finally offering her own account of her life in a new book, “The Ear of the Heart: An Actress’ Journey from Hollywood to Holy Vows.”
In Charlotte, she’ll talk about her life as an actress and a sister.
She may even mention the time she met Pope John XXIII. It was 1960, and she was in Italy playing St. Clare in a movie about St. Francis of Assisi. In the 13th century, Clare gave up a comfortable life to follow Francis and establish an order of nuns.
“I am Dolores Hart, the actress playing Clare,” she told the Pontiff. He responded in Italian, “Tu sei Chiara!” Translation: “No, you are Clare!”
Apparently, that brief conversation was instrumental in her later decision to give up all the glamor, money and fame for a cloistered convent, her home ever since.
Mark your calendar: Mother Dolores will speak at 2:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 14, at the Charlotte Convention Center (Hall A) in uptown. It’s free and open to the public.
For more on the Charlotte diocese’s 9th annual Eucharistic Congress, which is expected to draw 10,000 people, visit www.goeucharist.com.
Also of note
On Saturday (May 18), Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in Charlotte will confer 55 master’s degrees and 10 Doctor of Ministry degrees.
Speaking at the 10 a.m. commencement at Friendship Missionary Baptist Church, 3400 Beatties Ford Road, will be Steve Green, president of Hobby Lobby and author of “Faith in America: The Powerful Impact of One Company Speaking Out Boldly.”
-- Tim Funk