Her early years were spent in the Bay of Plenty, then in Henderson where she was educated by the Sisters of Mercy at the Holy Cross Primary School. As a teenager and up to the time of entering the Sisters of Compassion, Helen lived with her siblings on the family farm in Te Puke. Following World War II, Helen began discerning her future vocation. A warm and encouraging letter from Mother Cecilia confirmed her decision and she asked permission to enter the Sisters of Compassion in May, 1945.

Sister Philip and Patricia Kraus accompanied Helen through Novitiate years, and together they made their Final Profession, remaining faithful friends for many years.

Helen gained her Nurse’s Registration in 1951 and this was followed by Midwifery Registration in 1959. She nursed in our homes at Island Bay, Silverstream, Suva, Timaru, and Auckland. Known to be an energetic and innovative person, Helen was given challenging management and administration positions within the Congregation. Her decisions were Gospel centred and arose from prayerful reflection, always mission focused and according to needs and the well-being of the disadvantaged person. Her abilities and skills as community leader at Silverstream and Auckland didn’t go unnoticed. She was engaged in parish activities, visited the elderly in their homes, and was an active member of the Pregnancy Counselling Services for many years. With a generous spirit, Sister Helen accepted the call to the Leadership of the Sisters of Compassion, a position she held for nine years. For three decades, Helen was part of an active team engaged in buildings and refurbishing of our Homes including the present Home at Silverstream and Our Lady’s Home and Chapel at Island Bay. These projects were not without complications, but with firm resolution and good management skills, Sister Helen always found practical solutions to bring each project to a successful completion. Her interest in gardening was plainly seen wherever she lived.

Sister Helen’s last few years were a struggle. Assessment processes were not always helpful because Sister Helen could charm the clinicians who made the decisions for home care support that she required. It was not without effort that Sister Helen eventually accepted to being admitted to St Joseph’s Home of Compassion, Silverstream.

Sister Helen enjoyed the odd joke; she loved the photo albums that the family put together, and going through the photo books was a happy time for her. On one occasion she said “It breaks into my memory and I see it as new.”

During the last few days of her life, grace was fully present as Sister Helen surrendered peacefully to the call of death. The following is a quotation from Sister Helen’s memoir

recorded in 2005:

“So that is my story almost completed but not quite, I have just got to wait to that final little chapter to move just when God is ready, and just when he knows that I am ready. Because this is another one of my definite opinions, I think God takes us at the moment we are most ready to go to Him. I have often heard people say isn’t it tragic that so and so died so suddenly, and I think, no, it is not tragic, that is the moment when that person was most ready to go to God, because he only takes us when we are at our best not when we are at our worst.”

Birth                  Entered            Professed           Died            Place of Death      Place of Burial

29.06.1926     28.05.1945        19.03.1948    30.08.2013      Silverstream      Karori Cemetery


Sister Helen’s story on video