During her 20s, Ursuline Sister Delores “Dee” Long was busy playing semi-pro tennis on a six-state circuit and working for the phone company in Kansas City, Mo. Despite her busy life, she felt something was lacking.
“I always had a calling of some sort to serve the Lord,” she said.
At the time, she was a member of the Disciples of Christ. By the time she reached 31, she had converted to Catholicism, and four years later, she entered the Ursuline Sisters of Paola, Kan. In 2008, that community merged with the Ursuline Sisters of Mount Saint Joseph.
In the early 1970s, not long after the death of her father, Sister Dee began thinking about becoming a Catholic.
“Both my roommates were Catholics,” Sister Dee said. “I grew up with Catholics, we had Catholics in our family. My mom grew up with Catholics. It just seemed right, so I decided to join the Church.”
Her friends worked at Queen of the Holy Rosary, and Sister Dee volunteered to teach catechism on Saturdays. “Sister Mildred (Katzer) was at the church, she was one of my sponsors,” Sister Dee said.
Sister Dee was working for Hudson Oil Co., but by 1975, she knew there was an emptiness she needed to fill.
“One of my roommates put it in my mind,” Sister Dee said. “I went to a women’s weekend retreat at Paola. I visited Benedictines, Carmelites and the Ursulines in Springfield, Ill. I thought, ‘That’s crazy, I should just go to Paola.’”
“I think the openness and friendliness appealed to me,” Sister Dee said. “I had my own home, I’d always had a good job, but I wasn’t happy with myself. There was something lacking.”
“I was 35 years old,” she said. “The first night I was there, I played softball on Sister Kathleen Dueber’s team. I thought it was great,” Sister Dee said.
Sister Dee received support from her family and friends when she announced her decision to join the Ursulines. “My mom thought it was great as long as I was happy,” Sister Dee said. “I don’t know if Dad would have been OK with it, but I think he wanted me to be happy.”
Sister Dee was a teacher or principal for 33 years, primarily serving middle school age children from low-income families. In May 2014, she moved to Maple Mount and now serves as an assistant to the archivist. She celebrates 40 years as an Ursuline Sister this year.
“Now that I am retired and look back on the 40 years I realize how fast they have come and gone,” she said. “They have been full of love, happiness and involvement with others. I have grown in knowledge of myself and more with Our Lord. I do miss the children, their smile, their hugs and even their mischief, but I find I have some sisters who are just as full of mischief. I am glad that I became an Ursuline Sister and for all those who have helped me along the way, I say, ‘Thank you and may our Lord bless you in a special way as I do.’”