Sister Helen entered the Sisters of the Presentation in July 1958 and transferred to the Sisters of Mercy in 1973, spending a total of 62 years in religious life.
Sister Helen earned a bachelor’s degree from The College of Saint Rose in Albany, New York. She taught at St. Ambrose School in Latham, St. Paul’s School in Schenectady and Sacred Heart School in North Albany. She served as both principal and teacher at Saint Joseph’s Academy in Albany. Teaching at St. Colman’s Home in Watervliet was a ministry especially dear to Sister Helen’s heart.
In addition to teaching, she directed a halfway house for girls who were in transition from St. Colman’s. For many years, Sister Helen focused her energy on outreach and social service programs, serving as coordinator of Christian service outreach at Sacred Heart Parish, director of Christians service and pastoral care at St. Helen’s Parish in Schenectady, administrator of all social service programs at Saint John’s-St. Ann’s Parish in Albany, and senior therapist at SPARC in Albany. She also served on the Leadership Team.
Sister Helen was loving and non-judgmental in her ministry to people who lived on the margins of society. She “looked up to the downtrodden,” offering encouragement and hope to those in need while at the same time challenging them to move beyond where they were. She was direct and honest in her communication, leaving no doubt where she stood but always remaining open to the views of others. A compassionate listener, Sister Helen enabled those to whom she ministered to name and face their challenges; then she walked with them on their path to healing.
She was an ever-present face at the welcome tables at St. John’s-St. Ann’s Parish in Albany, and Sacred Heart Parish in North Albany. Sister Helen went out of her way to provide the special touches that made for a comfortable and homey experience for those who were guests at the table. Her gracious service to the poor flowed freely from her relationship with God in prayer. Sister Helen loved her family and was very proud of her Irish heritage.