Sister Helen Weis, SJSM - Unstoppable Religious Woman and Catholic Educator
Sister Helen Weis did not know the meaning of delay. Everything she did, and she did more than any ten people combined, was done quickly, yet always meticulously well with great care and concern for those to whom she ministered. Barely five feet tall, Sr. Helen was a giant. A Catholic educator and a member of the Sisters of St. Joseph of St. Mark (SJSM) for over 60 years, Sister Helen died Tuesday, 14 September 2021 at age 81.
Born Jeanne Weis to Clarence and Helen (nee O'Banion) in 1940, Sister Helen entered the Sisters of St. Joseph of St. Mark on 15 August 1960 and took the name Helen. Graduating from St. John College of Education, and being one of the few teachers in her religious order, Sister Helen partnered with her fellow religious sister and educator, Sr. Alexandra Wortman, to administer and teach in a number of schools in northeast Ohio. Her service included St. Philip Neri, Cleveland, St. John Bosco, Parma Heights, Immaculate Heart of Mary, Cuyahoga Falls, and St. Monica, Garfield Heights. Additionally, she served in the diocesan central office as Assistant Superintendent of Elementary Schools and as Assistant Principal and Director of Catechesis at Seton Catholic School.
The Catholicism of the schools was dear to Sr. Helen's heart. Her work as school catechetical director reflected her ongoing pursuit of truth. She believed faith development and orthodoxy were central to the mission of Catholic education.
Sr. Helen's interests were varied and broad. She kept current on international events following her daily ritual of reading The Wall Street Journal and five other newspapers. Walking at least 6 miles per day until the last weeks of her life, she could out pace many people years younger. Her natural interest in people made her ideal for the fundraising so needed in the schools she administered. She was known to enter a room of strangers and leave knowing every person's name and family situation, especially those most in need.
With no task too lowly, Sr. Helen could often be found late at night scouring the school floors complementing the janitor's work. As she frequently remarked, she loved to see the school shine.
After more than 50 years in Catholic education, Sister Helen decided to retire. Her family and friends who knew her well recognized that retirement for Sr. Helen would be a myth. Even in this retreat, Sister Helen did not slow down. Until the very end, she served on innumerable non-profit boards and was chosen to be Provincial Superior of her order in the last two years of her life.
Her love of her families - both religious and biological - was visible as she told wonderful, and sometimes humorous stories, of her beloved families. She was preceded in death by her sister Susie Hagwood (Hank-living) and is survived by her brother Richard Weis (Linda) and her nieces, nephews, great nieces and great nephews.
A funeral Mass will be celebrated at St. Monica Church, 13623 Rockside Rd., Garfield Hts., OH at 10:00 am on Saturday 18 September. Family and friends are asked to meet at the Church. Private Interment in Louisville, OH. In lieu of flowers, please send your donation to St. Joseph Senior Living Project, 2308 Reno Dr, Louisville, OH 44641
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