SINSINAWA — Sister Helen O’Neill, OP (Patrick Mary), died Aug. 25, 2013, at St. Dominic Villa. The funeral Mass was held in Queen of the Rosary Chapel at Sinsinawa on August 29, followed by burial in the Motherhouse Cemetery.
Sister Helen made her first religious profession as a Sinsinawa Dominican on February 3, 1945, and her final profession August 4, 1948. She taught elementary school for 20 years, three while also serving as principal, and ministered at the college level as administrator for two years and teacher for 18 years.
In 1984, Sister Helen was awarded a doctorate in sacred theology from the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas, Rome, Italy, an uncommon occurrence for a woman at that time. She was founder, director, and annual lecturer for the Sinsinawa Biblical Institute, in Sinsinawa, Wis., which occurred every summer from 1975 to 1988 and brought together some of the prominent theologians and biblical scholars in the world. She ministered with retreats for three years and with a diocesan adult program for three years. Sister Helen served in Minnesota, New York, Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois, Rhode Island, and Florida.
In the Diocese of Madison, Sister Helen taught at Edgewood Campus School, Madison, 1956-1958, and served as a staff member at the Dominican Education Center, Sinsinawa, 1977-1978, as well as organized the Sinsinawa Biblical Institute, Sinsinawa, 1975-1988.
Sister Helen was born August 30, 1923, in East Dubuque, Ill., the daughter of Leslie “Lee” and Clara (Runde) O’Neill. Her parents; two sisters, Ruth Hocking and Lois Cassidy; and two brothers, Earl O’Neill and Bishop Arthur J. O’Neill, preceded her in death. She is survived by a sister, Erma Schneider; nieces; nephews; and her Dominican Sisters with whom she shared life for 68 years.
Memorials may be made to the Sinsinawa Dominicans, 585 County Road Z, Sinsinawa, WI, 53824-9701 or online at www.sinsinawa.org by clicking on "Donate Now," then "Honor and Memorial Gift."
Repeat broadcasts of the wake and funeral for Sister Helen are available online at www.Sinsinawa.org/live. Click on the “on demand” tab.