Ursuline Sister Helen Smith was elected as the newest member of the Ursuline Sisters of Mount Saint Joseph Leadership Council on Nov. 5, 2016.
Sister Helen, who previously served as assistant superior of the Ursuline Sisters of Paola, Kansas, prior to its 2008 merger with Mount Saint Joseph, fills a Council position created by the Sept. 5, 2016, death of her longtime friend Sister Kathleen Condry.
Sister Kathleen took office as assistant congregational leader on July 17, 2016, but her health quickly failed. At the special election on Nov. 5, councilor Sister Pat Lynch was approved as the new assistant congregational leader. Sister Helen will take Sister Pat's seat as a councilor. She was officially installed shortly after the voting.
For six years Sister Helen has handled sacramental preparation with children and teenagers at Church of the Nativity in Leawood, Kansas, a suburb of Kansas City. She plans to complete her ministry there in May 2017 and in the interim will meet with the other Council members by Internet.
Sister Helen grew up in Bartlesville, Oklahoma. She met the Ursuline Sisters when she attended St. John Catholic School. She joined the Ursulines in 1964, after graduating from Ursuline Academy in Paola. Before making vows, she suddenly felt uncertain and decided to leave the community. She then served as a lay teacher from 1972 to 1979, before feeling the urge to return to the Ursuline Sisters, who welcomed her back. She will celebrate 40 years as an Ursuline Sister in 2017.
Sister Helen was a teacher or principal in Kansas until 2005. From 1990 to 1998 she was an elected Council member in Paola, re-elected in 2002 and 2006, the last time as assistant superior.
She joins a Council that includes Sister Amelia Stenger as congregational leader, Sister Pat as assistant congregational leader, and Sisters Pam Mueller and Judith Nell Riney as councilors.