Dolores Anna Stanko was the first of two daughters born to Charles and Anna Sotak Stanko. She and her sister Mary Jane spent their early years living in multi-generational, multi-family homes, characterized by faith, hard work, and care for others. Dolores attended St. Benedict School, Cleveland, where she first met the Sisters of Notre Dame. “I always liked school,” she said, “probably because God made studying easy for me.” High school years at Notre Dame Academy on Ansel Road meant opportunities to explore a wide range of subjects, especially math and science in which she excelled. In summer school she took additional courses that would not fit into her regular schedule. She continued the piano lessons which had begun in second grade, and participated in as many extra-curricular activities as possible. “I wanted to be a Sister ever since I could remember,” she wrote in her autobiography. The example and goodness of her teachers guided her to Notre Dame; she became a postulant on September 8, 1950. At investment, she received the name Sister Mary Charles Ann, in honor of her parents.
Sister Mary Dolores began undergraduate studies at Notre Dame College, South Euclid, Ohio, and in 1954 was assigned to St. Peter High School, Cleveland. Over the next 26 years, she ministered at 10 different high schools in Chardon, Cleveland, Elyria, South Euclid, and Warren, all in Ohio. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Notre Dame College in 1961, and a Master’s in Science from the University of Notre Dame, South Bend, Indiana in 1965. Her background in chemistry led to a keen interest in photography; expertise in math brought her to the forefront of computer science. She used her skills in new assignments, first as an editorial assistant to a team of sisters who authored high school religion books, and then most notably as an assistant in the province secretarial office for 27 years.
Sister Mary Dolores was ahead of her time: in 1977 she was awarded a grant to introduce her students to environmental studies. Besides instructing the secretarial staff in computer technology, she joined the Northeast Ohio Apple Club, whose members affectionately nicknamed her “The Computing Nun.” An avid gardener, her organic grow boxes yielded prize tomatoes, each displayed with a card indicating weight and circumference, and then served for supper at the salad bar. She learned Spanish, and spent a month with a family for an immersion experience in Mexico. Her many gifts were freely shared with others, expressing God’s grace and energy at work within. After several years of declining health, Sister Mary Dolores died peacefully on December 26, the Feast of the Holy Family.
The Mass of Christian Burial for Sister Mary Dolores will be celebrated on Wednesday, January 5, at 4:30 p.m., at the Sisters of Notre Dame Center, 13000 Auburn Road, Chardon, OH, 44024. The Mass will be livestreamed.