In Loving Memory
Sr. Helen Poirier SUSC
Sister Helen Poirier (Sr. Helen Marie) SUSC daughter of the late Emile and Elizabeth (Rocheleau) Poirier died October 18 after a brief illness. Sr. Helen, a Taunton native was predeceased by her parents, her brother James and sister Jeanne Place. In addition to her Holy Union Sisters, her long-time friend and community member Sr. Alice Arsenault, SUSC, she is survived by her brother Norman Poirier of Raynham and sister Louise Jackson of Greenwood, S.C. as well as nieces, nephews, grandnieces and grandnephews.
Sr. Helen attended St. Jacque’s Grammar School and graduated from the former St. Mary’s High School, Taunton before entering the Holy Union Sisters in Groton, MA in September 1950. She studied at Sacred Heart Teacher Training School, Catholic Teachers College and received a BS degree in Education and an MA degree in English from Boston College. She did further studies at St. Bonaventure and Fordham Universities, New York, Bridgewater State University and Northern Essex Community College, Massachusetts and received an MA degree in Pastoral Ministry from Fairfield University, Connecticut.
Sister Helen was a teacher for thirty years, first in elementary grades in Holy Union schools in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. She taught at St. John the Baptist Academy, Pawtucket, RI, Rose Hawthorne High School in Concord, Sacred Heart and St. Mary High School, Lawrence, MA.
Sr. Helen participated in the international Apostolic Religious Community Program in Rome in preparation for formation work within Holy Union. She served as coordinator of religious education programs in St. Ann Parish, Raynham and St. Jacques Parish, Taunton. While residing in the Holy Union formation community in Worcester she was a resident supervisor at Marillac Manor a residential program for pregnant teenagers. She established the Respect for Life Office in the Providence Diocese where she worked with parishes and coordinated efforts of the Catholic Bishops national office in Washington D.C. She returned to religious education as Director at Sacred Heart Parish, Woonsocket RI. Her last ministry was at the English Transcultural Center in Brockton, MA. The Center was initially a collaborative effort among women religious to meet the needs of the large immigrant population in the Brockton area and later was part of the Boston Archdiocesan Catholic Charities South. Sr. Helen never limited herself to her classroom teaching. She helped students find employment and worked with her parish Vincent de Paul Society to address the material needs of her students, many of whom came to the United States with limited financial resources.
Sr. Helen enjoyed traveling. She looked forward to her annual vacation at Ocean City, MD with Sr. Alice. Her niece Betsy Jackson organized vacations with Sr. Helen to many parts of Europe. Other family members joined them whenever possible. Sr. Helen always returned with lively stories about the places they had visited.
The wake and Memorial Prayer were held on October 24th at Riendeau-Mulvey Funeral Home, Taunton. The Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated at St. Jude Church, Taunton on October 25th. Burial was in St. Joseph Cemetery, Taunton. Donations in Sr. Helen’s memory may be made to the Holy Union Sisters’ Mission Advancement Office, P.O. Box 410, Milton, MA 02186-0006.
In all her ministries, but especially in her teaching of English to immigrants, in her own quiet way, Sr. Helen lived fully Article 56 of the Holy Union Sisters’ Constitutions:
We are mindful that the poor were a real concern to our Founder
and that the Church calls us in our times to respond to their cries.
Through all our apostolates we work to bring about
an awareness of the problems of the oppressed
and a response which truly liberate them.