sister colette marie doering
June 19, 1922 - December 26, 2011
A life filled with blessings.
Sister Colette Marie Doering was an artist, a loving friend to many— especially to Mary Martin—and a faithful Sister of St. Joseph. Most of all, she welcomed people—her family, friends, community members, colleagues at Avila, students—all who came into her life. Kindness and gentleness were her trademarks, but she was not one to back away from issues that needed addressing.
“I’ve had a life filled with God’s blessings,” S. Colette said. And, indeed, she did. She was born in St. Louis, had one brother, Joe, and grew up in St. Catherine of Siena parish on Page Ave. She attended Ursuline Academy as a high school student. Treasured memories abounded.
S. Colette cherished all family reminiscences, and, with her brother, had recently written a two-volume book entitled And He Brought Her Lilacs. They gave the book to Joe’s children and grandchildren as a way of telling their family’s story. As she said, “Unless we become acquainted with our past, with the legacy of our ancestors, we soon come to realize the missing facets of our existence. Joe and I had resolved to present the ‘future family’ with the treasured memories of our family past.”
Like those special lilacs, S. Colette was like a beautiful flower that unfolded at various points in her life, showing the depth of the roots that motivated her: her youthful days, family, vocation as a Sister of St. Joseph, gifts and commitment to the dear neighbor.
As a young woman, S. Colette had at least three proposals for marriage. She was attending Fontbonne College at the time and enjoying the adventuresome college life. Thanks to one of her suitors, she was chosen as queen of the USO. However, instead of marriage she decided to dedicate her life to God and others as a Sister of St. Joseph. The friendly influence of S. Alfred Noble, persuaded her at age 21 to enter the community in 1943.
She loved the Sisters of St. Joseph and their mission. Whether it was to teach kindergarten in the morning, and then at Redemptorist to teach French, sewing, art, and religion in the afternoon, S. Colette gave her every effort to her assignments. Teaching the beauties of art to students at St. Joseph’s Academy in St. Louis resulted in numerous awards and scholarships for those young women. When she was assigned to Avila, she collaborated with her dear friend S. Margaret Reinhart and helped its art department grow in stature. She was art professor at Avila from 1970-1990.
From 1990-1995, she did art research for the diocese of Kansas City and co-authored a book for the diocese, titled This Far by Faith: A Popular History of the Catholic People of the West and Northwest Missouri. Her contribution in Volume I—“The Art”—is a beautiful presentation of the art and architecture and interior design
of the local churches. It was published in 1992.
S. Colette Marie was not the stereotypical artist. She loved art from the time, when as a 6th grader, she drew pictures of Ruby Keeler for her friends. As art professor at Avila many years later, she accepted the invitation to submit her beautiful watercolors for exhibit, her last showing taking place on the Plaza in Kansas City, Mo. She was the recipient of many awards in art competitions and would generously donate paintings to various charities.
This is what S. Colette did. More important is the person she was. She always had time for others. She wrote letters to many, thanking them or encouraging them and sending them boxes of Russell Stover candy; she phoned family and friends and stayed in touch with her students. The Sisters at Nazareth could count on her faithful messages. She mentored young teachers. And as she could, she contributed to her favorite causes: her alma mater, Avila, and Habitat for Humanity. Loving the dear neighbor where she encountered them, S. Colette responded in her own quiet way to all who needed her. Mary Martin, her dear friend, sums up what S. Colette meant to her when she said, “I saw and lived with this for forty-eight years. She was the other half of my soul.”
S. Rita Louise Huebner