Widely regarded as the most beautiful luxury liner of its time, the Italian cruise ship Andrea Doria made headlines when it collided with the Swedish passenger liner Stockholm on July 25, 1956. More than 50 passengers died—46 on the Andrea Doria alone—but a concerted rescue effort saved more than 1,000 other passengers, including two from Oak Park.
Kathleen Doran was an art history and archeology major who had just received her master’s degree. She was returning to the States after two years in Florence, Italy, where she had studied at the Villa Schifanoia. Rev. Raymond Goedert had also been a student, doing post-graduate work in canon law at the North American Pontifical College in Rome. Both had family members from Oak Park waiting for their arrival in New York City.
Just after 11 p.m., the bow of the Stockholm crashed into the Andrea Doria’s starboard side like a battering ram. The collision snapped bulkheads and the Stockholm’s icebreaker bow penetrated some 30 feet into the hull of the Andrea Doria. When it finally broke lose, a gaping hole remained. Seawater spilled through compartments as the Andrea Doria began to list to starboard. Eventually the ship capsized and sunk about 300 miles northeast of New York.
Ms. Doran, who had been dancing in the ballroom when the collision occurred, calmly joined other passengers in donning life jackets and waiting at her assigned station on the promenade deck for their rescuers. “The people were wonderful,” she recalled. “Scared, but trying to be calm and follow instructions.”
Father Goedert had just left the lounge and was headed to his cabin and bed. “Suddenly, there was a thud and the boat seemed to lurch forward, beginning to tilt right away,” he later reported. “I dressed hurriedly and put on my life preserver. Naturally, the people were terrified, but they behaved marvelously, trying to help each other.” Along with other priests on board, he heard confessions and administered the last rites to those who requested them. No one was sure whether they would be rescued, but “it seemed as if God was with us all the way,” said Father Goedert.
Around 2 a.m., the Ile de France, another massive ocean liner, maneuvered next to the Andrea Doria and began making rescues with its life boats. Ms. Doran was among those taken aboard the Ile de France; Father Goedert was eventually transferred to the Stockholm, and both arrived in New York the next day, much to the relief of their anxious families.
Four years later, the Oak Leaves announced the marriage of Kathleen Doran to Thomas J. Donnelly Jr. of Cincinnati; Kathleen Doran Donnelly died in 2008. Father Goedert resumed his pastoral duties, and is a retired auxiliary bishop of Chicago.
Submitted by Mary Ann Porucznik, 2019
Sources: Oak Leaves, Aug. 2, 1956; The Sinking of Andrea Doria by Evan Andrews