Dolores Ellwart, SP (Sr. Camilla) – 75 Years

Sr. Dolores still cherishes the time she spend in the northwest Idaho reservation of the Coeur d’Alene tribe where she taught at the school and worked at the parish.

Dolores Ellwart, SP

“Life with the people there was wonderful,” she remembered. “I’m grateful for all of them, especially the elderly, and for the various ministries in which I participated. From the first moment I was discerning my vocation, I felt called to serve the people in De Smet.”

Sr. Dolores was born in De Smet, Idaho, where her father was a dairyman who supplied milk to the Sisters and her mother a nurse and an enrolled member of the tribe. 

Sr. Dolores wanted to become a nurse but ended up pursuing a teaching career.  She attended Holy Name Academy in Spokane and then earned her bachelor’s at the College of Great Falls (now University of Providence) and a master’s in library science from the University of Portland.

She taught at almost every school in the St. Ignatius Province (now part of the Mother Joseph Province) but she longed to return home to the De Smet area.

In 1965, she finally got her chance and spent the next forty years serving the people.

She taught at St. Mary Immaculate School – every grade – until the school grew large enough to have two classrooms.  During her time there she also served as superior and principal.  When the school closed, she moved to Sacred Heart Mission preparing children for their First Eucharist and Confirmation.  After closing, the school buildings were given to the Coeur d’Alene tribe and were eventually named as a national historical site.

Sr. Dolores also served on the school board for the Coeur d’Alene tribal school.

Despite a busy schedule and working at three Masses every Sunday, Sr. Dolores found time to return to nearby Spokane to be with her fellow Sisters.   She lived in the same trailer on the reservation, 14 miles south of Coeur d’Alene, for 37 years and promised to serve the people for as long as she is able.

In 2011, Sr. Dolores woke to see flames at the buildings that housed the school which operated for nearly 100 years.  It was a sad day, but Sr. Dolores is pleased that the land is now a park.  Photos of students from the decades that the Sisters taught there are displayed at the park.

When she retired, she spent several years at Emilie Court before moving to St. Joseph Residence.

She finds her life now peaceful and the Sisters and staff gracious and kind.