Palmerston North diocese has lost two women of great faith with the deaths on the same day of Sr Helena Hart, DOLC, in Whanganui and Sr Marlene Dunn, RSJ, in Hastings on December 2, 2018. Sr Helena’s requiem Mass was in St Mary’s Catholic church on December 6 and Sr Marlene’s was the next day at Sacred Heart church in Hastings. Both sisters had been gravely unwell for some months prior.
Sr Helena was in her 70th year of religious life. At her 60th jubilee, she expressed that it was a privilege to serve God and was constantly aware of the many blessings she had been given throughout.
Born in New Plymouth on June 19, 1929, she was always quick to share that her birth date was the same as Venerable Suzanne Aubert’s. With similar pride, she told of the story of her mother who worked in a drapery shop and once met Mother Aubert.
“She wanted to buy some flannelette for the sisters’ underskirts. Mum generously gave her a donation of two pounds and sixpence from her weekly wage of six pounds [and] sixpence,” Sr Helena recollected.
Her father Augustine (Gus) was a Taranaki rugby rep player and an All Black in 1924/25. Although Sr Helena always said that she never the followed the All Blacks it was felt she did – and very closely.
After final profession in 1948, she completed her nursing and maternity qualifications. She then worked in the Congregation’s homes in Island Bay, Silverstream, Wagga Wagga in Australia, Timaru and finally Whanganui.
Accurately described as a beautiful woman disciple, Sr Helena was a great encourager and inaugural member of the Associates of Suzanne Aubert – Te Hunga Whai i nga Akoranga a Suzanne.