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Mary Ellen "Sister Mary Helen" Conley
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Birth: Feb. 10, 1916
Soldiers Grove
Crawford County
Wisconsin, USA
Death: Mar. 20, 2010
Arlington Heights
Cook County
Illinois, USA

Sister Mary Helen Conley, OSM 19162010

Mary Ellen Conley was born on Feb. 10, 1916, in Soldiers Grove, Wis., to John Conley, an Irish Catholic, and Mabel Pecor Conley, a French Canadian and convert to Catholicism. She had four brothers, Charles, John, Michael, and Frank, and one sister, Lois.

She grew up on a farm in Crawford County, where she preferred working outside to inside and loved riding horses bareback.

She credited the parish priest, Father O'Shaughnessy, with planting the seed of her vocation. When she was 14 years old, she was in the hospital, and Father O'Shaughnessy came to visit. He asked her what she planned to do when she grew up, and she said, "I'm going to be a nurse." "No you aren't," he said. "You're going to be a sister. The next time I see you, you're going to have on the habit of a religious order." As it turned out, they were both right.

The following year, on Sept. 3, 1931, Mary Ellen entered the convent in Ladysmith. She became a novice on Aug. 16, 1932, and received the name Sister Mary Helen. She made her first profession of vows on Aug. 17, 1933, and her final profession on Aug. 15, 1937.

Sister Helen completed her high school education after entering the convent. She later attended St. Mary's School of Nursing, LaSalle, Ill., and became a Licensed Practical Nurse in 1955. She also took courses at St. Catherine College, St. Paul, Minn.

Following her first profession, Sister Helen worked for six years at the motherhouse and then was assigned to cook for the teaching sisters at Hillside, Ill., and Carteret, N.J. In 1942 she was sent to help out at Addolorata Villa, Wheeling, Ill. From that time on, with the exception of nine years teaching in elementary schools in St. Paul, Minn., and Weirton, W.Va., she worked in healthcare at Addolorata Villa and at St. Mary's Hospital, Ladysmith.

"I enjoyed teaching after I got started and knew what I was doing," she once said, "but I enjoyed the nursing more. I enjoy taking care of the sick."

When Sister Helen retired at Addolorata Villa in the 1980s, she took on the ministry of visiting the nursing home residents and sitting with the dying in their final hours.

She died at Northwest Community Hospital in Arlington Heights, Ill., on March 20, 2010, following a brief illness. She was 94.

Father Nick Husain presided at a funeral Mass at Addolorata Villa on March 23. Columban Father Jerry Wilmsen presided at the Mass of Christian Burial in the motherhouse chapel on March 24, with burial in the convent cemetery in Ladysmith.
Family links: 
  John Conley (1880 - 1953)
  Mabel Conley (1888 - 1986)
Servants of Mary Cemetery
Rusk County
Wisconsin, USA
Created by: Row Walker
Record added: Jun 28, 2013
Find A Grave Memorial# 113030799
Mary Ellen Sister Mary Helen Conley
Added by: Row Walker
Mary Ellen Sister Mary Helen Conley
Added by: Rod Bates
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- Row Walker
 Added: Jun. 28, 2013

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