Sr. Helen Linder

Sister Helen Linder

Untitled-1In her own words, Sister Helen Linder wrote: “I was born on August 14, 1924 in a rural community in northwest Ohio, near the town of Payne. I am the sixth of eleven children – nine girls and two boys; my two brothers are the youngest in the family. My parents (were) both second generation descendents of German immigrants whose families migrated to the U.S. and settled in the farming areas of Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois. As far back as I have traced it, my religious heritage is strongly Roman Catholic, and in keeping with my parents’ beliefs, I was baptized in the parish church at Payne when I was one week old, and given the name of Helen Beatrice.”

Helen attended the parochial school in Payne for eight years, the public high school for her freshman and sophomore years, and St. Francis Convent School for her junior and senior years. After graduation she entered the Sisters of St. Francis in Tiffin where her aunt, Sister Theophane (Beatrice Linder), was a member.

On August 12, 1942, Helen received the habit and was given the name Sister Mary Gerard. She made her first vows on August 12, 1944. She then attended St. Francis College in Joliet, Illinois and St. Vincent Hospital School of Nursing in Toledo, Ohio. She professed her final vows on August 12, 1947 and received her State License as a nurse that same year. She completed her BSN in 1948 at Our Lady of Cincinnati College in Cincinnati, Ohio.

From 1948 to 1974, Sister M. Gerard ministered as a nurse at Mercy Hospital, Tiffin, Ohio, the convent infirmary, Linton Hospital, Linton, North Dakota; as one of the seven original Sisters at Lourdes Hospital in Paducah, Kentucky. There she was the obstetrical supervisor and later served in nursing and hospital administration. She also served on the Kentucky State Board of Nursing from 1970-1973 at the appointment of Governor Louie B. Nunn.

In 1974, Sister Gerard was elected to the Executive Board of the Sisters of St Francis. She served in this capacity for four years. Following her term in leadership, she studied in the Active Spirituality Program in Cincinnati, Ohio, served on the nursing staff of St. Francis Home, and prepared for hospital chaplaincy through completing studies in Clinical Pastoral Education at Rush-Presbyterian Medical Center in Chicago, Illinois and at Rochester Methodist Hospital-Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. During this time she returned to the use of her baptismal name and has been known as Sister Helen Linder. She served as staff chaplain at St. Vincent Medical Center in Toledo, Ohio from 1982-1993.

From 1994-2006, Sister Helen served as Archivist and Coordinator of the Media Center for St. Francis Convent and from 2007 to 2009 she served as a minister of prayer and service. During the last years of her life, Sister Helen lived at St. Francis Home. In 2010 she wrote, “The most important thing in my life this year was my move to St. Francis Home. I feel I have spiritually and personally grown by ‘choosing’ to move to St. Francis Home rather than by being ‘sent’.”

Throughout her years, Sister Helen was active in the leadership of many of the works and committees of the Sisters of St. Francis. In her annals she noted that most of all she valued regular spiritual direction, prayer and spiritual reading as well as the special celebrations with her family and with the community. She also mourned the deaths of family members, friends and Sisters of St. Francis.

Sister Death welcomed Sister Helen home on April 17, 2014.
Sister Helen is preceded in death by her parents, Anna (Schall) and John Linder, and by her sisters: Catherine Linder Gonya, Marie Linder, Josephine Linder Huguenard, Rita Linder, and Rosemary Linder Perrine. Surviving are her sisters Genevieve Linder Wilson, Sister Jean Linder, Theresa Linder Baumlie, and her brothers, Maurice Linder and James Linder.

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