Sister M. Helen Anthony Kieszkowski, CSC
(January 10, 1930 - February 22, 2012)
Word has been received of the unexpected death of Sister M. Helen Anthony (Kieszkowski) who died at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, February 22, 2012, in Saint Mary’s Convent, Notre Dame, Indiana.
Everyone, the sisters, her family, friends, co-workers and staff all want to tell stories about Sister Helen Anthony because she was such a unique and many-faceted person. If one word could give a broad-brush picture of her, that word would have to be kindness. She dealt kindly and fairly with anyone she worked with, lived with or taught. This characterization is high praise for her, and Sister Helen Anthony deserves to be so recognized.
Going back to her 20 years of teaching in the elementary schools of the Midwest, stories abound about how much her students loved her, not only because of her fairness in dealing with each of them but also because she was their friend. Playing baseball with them at recess and lunchtime added to their admiration. Picture Sister Helen Anthony up to bat in the blocked-off street that became the designated playground in many of our inner-city schools. How could you not love a teacher who gave so willingly of herself?
Though her kindness and generosity cannot be doubted, there was another aspect of her life that helps fill in the picture of Sister Helen Anthony, and that was her work ethic. Whatever task she approached, she did it with care and exactitude. During her 16 years in the congregation’s print shop doing detailed layout work and all aspects of the printing process, she held high standards not only for herself but also for the staff and volunteers who worked with her. Some might say she was somewhat of a taskmaster in that role, but being meticulous with an eye to detail was her mode of operation with every task. This carried over to the 16 years of working in the campus ministry office in the South Bend-Fort Wayne diocesan office, where she applied her print shop skills to every project.
Stories of Sister Helen Anthony’s meticulous craft work are limitless. The plastic canvas needlepoint items she created became the prized possessions of many proud owners. Her famous Christmas masterpiece was chosen as the main raffle item at the recent boutique because of the magnitude of the project and the beauty and perfection of the work. After spending hours, days and even weeks on her pieces, she gave them away freely in her true spirit of generosity.
Some might have had a first impression of Sister Helen Anthony as perhaps being a little abrupt, but the twinkle in her eye and her dry sense of humor soon came to the fore and revealed a delightful caring person, generous to a fault. She was a loyal friend always willing to go “the extra mile” to help someone in need. And she had many who she held dear — her family, the community and certainly her long list of friends. Her devotion to her family was reciprocated tenfold as evidenced by their frequent visits and phone calls to keep in close contact. At her golden jubilee Sister Helen Anthony was surrounded with family members who lovingly rejoiced with her as she celebrated her years of dedication to her Lord and the congregation.
Sister Helen Anthony loved the Mass and came to it daily, though it was often a great physical struggle. Because of health issues and medication, it was difficult for her to stay alert and awake but she diligently made the effort. The rosary was always in her hands and she prayed this devotion religiously. All things being said, Sister Helen Anthony will be remembered as a kind and loving Sister of the Holy Cross, and who could ask for a greater tribute?
Funeral arrangements for Sister Helen Anthony are as follows: Reception of the body and wake on Monday, February 27, 2012, at 10:30 a.m. (Please note the change in time necessitated by the family’s travel from La Porte). The Mass of Resurrection will be celebrated at 1:30 p.m. also on Monday. All of these ceremonies will take place in the Church of Our Lady of Loretto. May Sister Helen Anthony rest in peace.