Current Location – Eugene, OR
Dolores Poelzer was born September 1, 1933 in Saskatchewan, Canada to Elizabeth J. (Hinz) and Michael Poelzer. She was the 9th of 12 children. Six sisters: Rita, Sr. Zita Marie CSJP, Sr. Agnes SFCC, Mildred, Sr. Irene SFCC, and Angela and five brothers: Arnold, Jerome, Raphael, Charles and Bernard. She graduated from Ursuline Academy (residential) High School in 1952. In 1956 Dodi earned a Bachelor of Arts-Sociology from Seattle University, Seattle, WA.
Canadian roots anchor the ministry experiences of Sister Dolores (Dodi) Poelzer. Raised on the family farm near the Hudson Bay wagon trail in Saskatchewan by a self-educated peasant father and a university-educated teacher mother, Dodi is the ninth of eleven children, all of whom were teachers at one time or another!
Her life as a teen-age catechist, parish organist, and student was shaped by Benedictine monks and Ursuline nuns in the Abbacy of St. Peter, by Basilian Fathers at St. Thomas More, a federated Catholic College of the University of Saskatchewan, and by Jesuits at Seattle University.
Dolores (Dodi) Poelzer entered the Maryknoll Sisters September 2, 1956 at the Sisters Center in NY. She pronounced First Vows June 24, 1959 at the Center and Final Vows June 24 1965 in Chile. Her first assignment was Congregational Service at the Center in Admissions and as an Assistant Secretary.
God’s plans for her life after entering Maryknoll led her to minister as a missioner, sociologist, and Catholic feminist. ln 1961in South America, she taught and studied in Chile; in Central America, she conducted research in Guatemala and El Salvador; in North America, she engaged in a variety of ministries in Oregon, California, British Columbia and Saskatchewan.
Sister Dodi’s graduate studies in sociology, which specialized in social change, religion, and Latin American studies, began with preliminary coursework in the Licentiate program of the Universidad Católica de Chile; subsequently with funding from a Ford Foundation grant, in 1969 she earned an Master of Arts-Sociology and in 1972 a PHD at the University of Oregon, Eugene, OR. Later, she was awarded and pursued post-doctoral studies on Civil Religion at UC Berkeley, Los Angeles, CA.
Her ministry in academia began with an unexpected one-year appointment in the Sociology Department at Humboldt State University (HSU) in northern California and continued there when the rise of Pinochet’s regime in 1973 prevented her return to Chile. She quickly earned full professorship for excellence in teaching, service, and applied research. She co-chartered HSU’s academic programs in Religious Studies, Women’s Studies, and Ethnic Studies. She conducted research in northern California on tribal decision-making, and in northern Saskatchewan on Metis (aboriginal) women.
God’s providence took Dodi back to Canada twice as a visiting professor at St. Thomas More College (STM), Saskatchewan, where she also served as one of the chaplains and as the Faculty Advisor for the STM Student Union. Beginning in 1981, she has periodically engaged in ministry to ailing or dying siblings. She had the privilege of accompanying her mother until her death at 102 years. During these periods of family ministry in British Columbia, she also promoted vocations to the single, married, religious, and ordained life.
Moving to Eugene, Oregon, as a member of the Sisters US Western region her ministries included “giving voice” as she advocated for and responded to immediate needs of undocumented Latino workers and their families. In addition to these justice issues, she also assisted in the cultivation of the ministries in the Hispanic faith community. She continued to offer graduate-level academic mentoring as well as to accompany the elderly and the hurting at the grassroots level. Through electronic letter writing, she supported contemporaneous local, national, and international efforts to care for God’s poor and for the rest of God’s creation.
In 2006, Sister Dodi retired to the Sisters Western US Region where she lives and continues her activities as a volunteer in Eugene, Oregon.