Words of remembrance for Sr Helen Malone, RSCPrint
Sr Helen Malone, 21 November 1923 – 28 August 2021
Mass of Christian burial at All Hallows Church, Balwyn on Thursday, September 9 at 11.30am
Her motto: ‘My soul thirsts for the living God.’
Selfless and without guile, a woman of deep faith and commitment, alive with integrity, creative and sometimes a bit unpredictable, gracious, and hospitable, a generous Sister of Charity, a devoted daughter and sister to her siblings, loving towards all who shared the journey. This is the Helen I came to know and love.
In 2012, Helen jotted down a few memories and I will be sharing some of these in this reflection.
Our Sister Helen was born Eileen Frances to her parents John and Olive in 1923.
She was the eldest of 4 children. Her siblings Michael and Jan were known to most of us. Her youngest brother Adrian died at just 2 months.
Helen’s family home was in Camberwell where she lived until coming to Sydney to enter the novitiate of the Sisters of Charity in 1945.
From Helen’s jottings:
“I cannot say that my choice was wholehearted – I even hoped that I would be found unsuitable and be sent home! However four months into postulancy all my defences crumbled, and a deep peace and sense of certainty came upon me.”
For almost 40 of her 74 years of professed life as a Sister of Charity, Helen was engaged in the ministry of education, being assigned to schools and colleges in NSW, Victoria and Tasmania. Teaching was a career that existed in her family and Helen felt that it was designed for her to follow this path.
She loved teaching but did not enjoy administration. In her own words,
“Helping to shape young minds has always been a privilege for me. Administration, on the other hand, has never been my strong point; thus I found the task of Principal at St Mary’s Hurstville (1976 – 1978) quite difficult. But I will never forget how supportive staff members were at all times.”
In the late 1980’s Helen seemed to find a niche that was just right for her! She became a volunteer helping adult refugees and migrants by teaching them English. She joined a group of teachers and offered one on one and small group classes to people in the high-rise flats in inner Melbourne. There was no shortage of need and Helen was supremely generous in her availability, and often in creative and practical ways she assisted people to learn and to assimilate.
Helen’s words again: “My students became a sort of extended family! I went to their weddings, birthdays, baptisms, funerals, national celebrations… “
It was during these days that I lived with Helen and have very vivid memories of her planning lessons and then setting out on the trams and buses to meet her students. One evening Helen was particularly late coming home. The community leader was becoming increasingly anxious. When Helen arrived home and was asked for an explanation, she said that she met a man on the tram who needed help and so she went to his place to offer some assistance. There was quite a bit of consternation about this!
Another vivid memory I have is of the night of the Hoddle Street massacre. The sound of the bullets was terrifying. We knew that something terrible was happening. Helen was heading to the front door. When asked what she was doing, she said she was going to see if she could offer some help. It took the rest of us in the community to convince her that it would not be safe and that appropriate help would soon be on its way!
In 1988 I was asked to complete the planning of our sesquicentenary celebrations in Melbourne. I spoke with Helen about what I thought the theme of the celebration would be and asked her if she would create a cover for the Mass booklet. She did this as an ink drawing, expressing our journey within the world enlivened by the Spirit. I still find this drawing inspiring.
I share these “moments” to highlight some of the remarkable qualities which Helen gave expression to during her life. These are far from exhaustive.
In her outreach to people, Helen always lived with an understanding and motivation of the love God held for her and for all people, and she was confident that “nothing can come between us and the love of Christ”.
Helen chose as her motto, ‘My soul thirsts for the living God.’ She was always searching for a deeper understanding and relationship with her God. Now she can hear God saying to her “remain in my love, for you have borne much fruit”.
Go now and rest in peace with our love and gratitude, Helen.
Laureen Dixon rsc, Congregational Leader
September 5, 2021
Image 1: Sr Helen in the garden of the Mononia Convent in Fitzroy; 2: Sr Helen as a young Sister; Sr Helen at her platinum Jubilee celebration with fellow jubilarians, Srs Eileen Thynne , Marguerite Molony, and Sr Clare Nolan.