Sister Helen Wild, MM

Born: May 25, 1915
Entered: September 7, 1943
Died: February 4, 2013

Three days before her death on February 4, 2013, Sister Helen Wild became very ill. In these last days Helen was well accompanied by Sisters and staff who made her comfortable in her bright room on Maryknoll Residential Care IV. Her facial expression reflected peace throughout the last hours of her life.

In the words of Hildegard of Bingen, a 12th Century mystic and a woman of faith like Helen, “Prayer is nothing but the inhaling and exhaling of the one breath of the universe.” Helen’s breath united her with the universe in the heart of God.

One of the home health aides who cared for Helen in the last three months said that she often told her mother about this kind and gracious Sister who made caring for her so rewarding. In today’s celebration of Helen’s life, we remember and give thanks for her kind and gracious person.

Helen Wild was born on May 25, 1915 in Barron County, Wisconsin, of Hermina (Schamdl) and Peter Wild. She had four brothers: Warren, Peter Wild, Jr., Harold and Edward, and four sisters, Mrs. Marion Feuer, Mrs. Katherine Lemke, Mrs. Hermina Nirschl and Mrs. Anne Behling.

After her 1933 graduation from West Division High School, Milwaukee, Helen was employed as a general office worker. Ten years later, September 7, 1943, she joined the Maryknoll Sisters from St. Michael Parish, Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She professed her First Vows on March 7, 1946, receiving the religious name, Sister Sheila Marie, and her Final Vows on March 7, 1949, both at Maryknoll, New York. This year Sister Helen would have completed 70 years in Maryknoll and will be remembered especially next Sunday, February 17, in the jubilee celebration in the Maryknoll Residential Care.

Helen came to Maryknoll with ten years of experience in office work skills. Throughout her life at Maryknoll, she offered these skills in various ways and places. She did Promotion work in the Midwest for four years from 1946-1950. Then she was assigned to Crichton House and for the next two years worked in the administration offices at the Seminary.

Assigned to the Bolivia-Peru Region in 1952, Helen studied Spanish for six months in Cochabamba, Bolivia, and then shared her office and bookkeeping skills in Cochabamba until 1957.

Sister Helen was assigned to St. Teresa’s Convent at Maryknoll, New York in 1957 to serve as secretary to Father Edward Manning and Father Thomas Brack in their Treasury offices until 1966. Helen then crossed the road and shared her skills at the Motherhouse as Local bursar and in the Treasurer’s office.

Assigned to the U.S. Region in 1970, she worked at St. Therese School in Chicago as school secretary and librarian and in the convent as bookkeeper and secretary for three years.

Helen returned to the Center in 1974 and gave Congregational Service in the Treasury Department, the Personnel Department and the Mission Institute, as well as offering her sewing talents to Sisters.

In 1987, Sister Helen was assigned to the Central Pacific Region where among other things, she did volunteer ministry with patients in St. Francis Hospital. Again, she shared her sewing skills with the Sisters. In leaving Hawaii in 1991, Helen wrote the Sisters: “A loving and warm thank you not only for your kind and generous send-off but for everything you’ve been and done during my time in the Central Pacific Region – it’s been much”.

Helen chose to go to Monrovia, California and was assigned there in 1991. She was sacristan, helped with sewing and did a volunteer ministry at Santa Teresita Hospital. In a letter from Monrovia to Sister Marie Rosso in Hawaii, Helen wrote, “It’s good to be here and I’m glad I came but Hawaii, Region and state, stay in the blood. The four of us from Hawaii at Monrovia share any news we get. Yesterday a remarkable thing happened here – we had a little rain! How we can have the fruits and vegetables and flowers we do is beyond me.”

After nine years in Monrovia, Sister Helen returned to the Center in 2000, living in the Main House Community where she chose as her Prayer Ministry the Eden Community. Two years later Helen needed more skilled care and was admitted to the Maryknoll Residential Care and became a member of the Eden Community. We are grateful to all the Staff of the Maryknoll Residential Care for their wonderful care of Sister Helen throughout the last eleven years.

As we continue our celebration of Sister Helen’s life, we welcome our Maryknoll brother, Father Ernest Lukaschek, MM, who will preside at our Eucharistic Liturgy of Christian Burial.