In October, Professor Emerita Sister Coletta Dunn, OSF, Ph.D., received
the Vatican II Award for Service in Education from the Archdiocese of
Milwaukee. That evening, the archdiocese recognized 14 people in 10 categories
(such as administration, ecumenism, communication, liturgy, and education),
with each category revealing a vision set forth by the Second Vatican Council,
which speaks of the church as engaged with the world.
According to the criteria for the education category, Sister Coletta’s
award recognizes people who make significant contributions to educational
ministry within the archdiocese; have spent a significant number of years of
service in educational ministry within the archdiocese; are recognized by peers
as a leader; are committed to lifelong learning; are proponents of Vatican II
theology and ecclesiology; and are willing to take risks in innovative
approaches to educational ministry.
The award program included the following biography, detailing Sister
Coletta’s career and accomplishments. In addition, a story about Sister
Coletta’s retirement from Stritch appeared in the Summer 2012 issue of Stritch
Magazine (pg 5).
When asked what she considers to be her greatest contribution to the
Catholic Church in southeastern Wisconsin, Sister Coletta Dunn, OSF, responded
that she believes it is the awareness and inclusion she brought forward for
persons with disabilities, through lectures, writing, and personal advocacy.
Maybe that is why her favorite gospel message can be found in John 10:10: “I came so that they might have life and have it more
Born Dolores Marie, Sister Coletta joined the Sisters of St. Francis of
Assisi as a postulant in 1947, later receiving her veil and name in 1948. Two
short years later, she professed her vows, thus entering warmly into what she
today calls her “spiritual family.” Years later, her fellow Franciscan Sisters
– Sister Justine Peter, OSF; Sister Florence Deacon, OSF; Sister Diana De
Bruin, OSF; and Sister Margaret Kruse, OSF, to name but a few – continue to
motivate her to live a life like Christ each and every day.
Throughout the years, Sister Coletta has led a colorful background in
education, holding teaching positions in the elementary, high school, and
college levels. For nearly 50 years, she was a professor of theology at her
alma mater, Cardinal
Stritch University, Milwaukee, where she initiated and taught Religious Ethical
Principles for the Health Sciences. With the cooperation of Sacred Heart School
of Theology in Franklin, she also helped pre-theology students meet their
academic requirements for further theology studies, a position she greatly
Sister Coletta is a published writer, twice co-authoring special
education programs, “Journey with Jesus” and the “Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy
Curriculum,” to assist pastors, catechists, parents, and families in the
Christian formation of persons with disabilities. She also has authored more
than two dozen articles and book reviews.
Not one to retire early, for the last eight years Sister Coletta has
served as advisor for graduate and undergraduate students at Cardinal Stritch
University. This year she retired from Stritch after 48 years of committed
“I thank God for my Franciscan vocation and my fellow Sisters of St.
Francis of Assisi, who have supported me in continuing to rediscover it daily,”