ASTON, Pa. – Sister Dolores Macklin, a Wilmington native who spent 20 years of her ministry working with the diocesan AIDS Ministry, died Jan. 8 in Assisi House. She was 83 and had been a professed member of the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia for 61 years.
Sister Dolores began her AIDS work in 1988 when Catholic Charities first proposed a program that was scheduled to run for 11 months, according to a 2009 edition of Good News, a publication of the Franciscan Sisters. Her ministry with people with HIV/AIDS included creating support groups and bereavement groups for men, women and families.
She also worked with doctors at St. Francis Hospital to help pregnant women and their babies, and at one point was on the governor’s task force for pediatric HIV/AIDS issues.
The former Sister Catherine Agnes was born in Wilmington and grew up in St. Paul’s Parish. She entered the Franciscans in 1947. In addition to AIDS ministry, she ministered primarily in education, senior services and counseling.
She ministered in the Diocese of Wilmington for 42 years, including as a teacher at Immaculate Conception School, Elkton, Md. (1950-52); St. Mary School, Wilmington (1952-53); and St. Patrick School, Wilmington (1967-72). She co-founded the St. Patrick Senior Center in 1971 and worked there until 1984.
She returned to Wilmington four years later to join in HIV/AIDS ministry and stayed until moving to Assisi House in 2008.
Sister Dolores was widely recognized for her work. In 1982, she was appointed a delegate to the White House Conference on Aging, and in 2006 she was the recipient of the “Servant of the Poor” Award from the Society of St. Vincent de Paul. Her dedication to justice and the poor earned her many other honors, including the Msgr. Thomas J. Reese Award from Catholic Charities.
She talked about her work with the HIV/AIDS ministry with The Dialog in 1989.
“I don’t care how they got AIDS. The Bible says, ‘I was sick and you visited me’; it doesn’t say, ‘I was sick with some socially acceptable disease,’” she said. “I’m not responsible for judging them, but I am responsible for responding to them. I think that is what Christ wants. As a Franciscan, that is my mission.”
Other activities included the Senior Food Program, Project SERVE and the Delaware Aging Projects Association. Sister Dolores also was one of the early patient care volunteers with Delaware Hospice.
In addition to her home diocese, Sister Dolores ministered for 10 years in the Baltimore archdiocese, four years in the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C., a year in the Diocese of Charleston, S.C., and two years in the Philadelphia archdiocese.
Survivors include her sister, Genevieve Gregg; two brothers, Norris Macklin and Ronald Macklin; and nieces and nephews, along with her Franciscan family.
Services will be held Friday in Assisi House, 600 Red Hill Road, Aston. A wake service begins at 9:30 a.m., followed by a viewing. Mass of Christian Burial will be at 11, with burial in Our Lady of Angels Cemetery. Donations in her name can be made to the Sisters of St. Francis Foundation, 609 S. Convent Road, Aston, PA 19014.