(These are Sister Helen’s own words of remembrance.)
I was born in Pulaski, Wisconsin, on April 7, 1926, to Edward and Angeline (Rozanski) Malcheski. My parents farmed and had a small cheese factory, which was common in those days.
I had three older sisters, one older brother, three younger sisters, and one younger brother. That made me a middle child. Unaware of whatever psychological significance was attributed to that position, I survived and thrived!
Our parents were very determined that we all obtain an education. We all went across the road from where we lived to Polandi Grade School for eight years. All eight grades were in one room with one teacher.I graduated from Pulaski High School. We belonged to Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Parish. My normal religious education was at Saturday afternoon religious classes during the school year at the parish. True religious education was learned from devout and practical parents who lived their beliefs.
We all helped on the farm and early on I drove a team of horses for harvesting and later drove a tractor. After World War II, my father was recruited by our government to go to Poland to help distribute machinery and instruct the people in modern farming methods. My older brother was still in the Marines, and no one was available to work in our small cheese factory. My parents asked me to help and I became a licensed cheesemaker for a couple of years.
Following that work, I attended and graduated from St. Mary’s School of Nursing in Green Bay in 1950. During those years, part of the specialty training occurred in other institutions. I affiliated at St. Mary’s Hill Hospital in Milwaukee for psychiatric nursing. There, I met the School Sisters of St. Francis, who administered this facility. In the course of those years, I had spoken of and was being drawn to religious life. This was my beginning with the School Sisters of St. Francis.
I entered the postulancy in September 1953; was Received in June 1954 when I received the name Sister Angelede; and I made my Final Profession in 1965. I completed a bachelor of science in nursing degree at Alverno College in 1957 and obtained a master’s of public health at the University of Michigan in 1970.
My nursing work was varied. During my novitiate, I did nursing at St. Joseph Convent, Milwaukee, and then at our St. Joseph Hospital in Beaver Dam and at Waupun Memorial Hospital. I taught OB nursing for one year at Alverno College and public health nursing for one year at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. I worked at Tufts Delta Health Center in Mississippi and in Rhodell Health Center in West Virginia. I worked in nursing homes at our St. Mary’s Hill and Good Shepherd Nursing Home in Seymour, Wisconsin. I retired from nursing after a final stint of eight years at St. Joseph Convent in Campbellsport, Wisconsin, ending in October 2007.
I am grateful and cognizant of the multitude of benefits and blessings I have enjoyed through my life. My formation years of family life established a work ethic and a sense of responsibility. The opportunities in education, membership in a dynamic religious community, and the gift of good health were priceless.
I was exposed to and worked in situations where people experienced real poverty and discrimination. This emphasized the recognition of my own many privileges and opportunities, and influenced my interest and involvement in striving to bring like opportunities into other people’s lives. Positive living situations and education can lead to love of God and love of neighbor, and they are key to peace and justice in our world. This was certainly true for me.
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Sister Helen, you wonderfully summed up your life and your gifts; yet we, your sisters, need to add our personal “thank you” for your 68 years of faithful Christian and Franciscan living. You taught all of us many things in your last years of retirement. You showed us how every little thing counts, and how often they are not so little. Examples of this include your lovingly peeling an apple for our 100-year-old sister who loved fresh fruit, and your showing by personal example the value of recycling. Add to this the political advice you shared from your sister Barbara, which invited all of us to be knowledgeable voters. Your ministry in West Virginia with Associate Dr. Johanna Roberts and Sister Gretta Schmitz had far-reaching effects.
All of us, especially those from your class of 1954, are touched deeply by your sudden departure, but we trust that our class patroness, the Queen of the Seraphic Order, will keep us, as our motto puts it, “Always One in Spirit.”