Vale Sister Helena Grant 1918-2014
Helena was the fourth child born to Jane and Francis Grant on 25th September 1918. She had a happy childhood growing up in Cowra with her two sisters; Mary and Margaret. She never met her brother who died aged 18 months, before Helena was born. She was taught by the Brigidine Sisters at St. Raphael’s School in Cowra. Her two sisters tell us that she did well at school, was always bright and happy and good to be with. After leaving school, she had a few casual jobs but spent most of her time at home caring for her mother who was in poor health.
At age 16, Helena entered the Sisters of St Joseph at Perthville in 1936 where she did her novitiate and was professed as Sister Annunciata of the Most Holy Rosary and went on to complete her teacher training. Helena’s ministry and community experiences extended to many places in the Bathurst Diocese including Coolah, Molong, Baradine, Dunedoo, Yeoval, Manildra, Canowindra, Perthville and Wattle Flat, and beyond to Papua New Guinea and then to Sydney.
An exceptional and creative infant’s teacher, Helena possessed a special passion for, and amazing success with, children who found learning difficult. She was innovative and open to new ideas including Family Group Teaching at the Assumption School, West Bathurst in the 1970’s. Sister Helena enjoyed these early years as she treasured the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of the children she taught and the parents and other people with whom she came in contact.
After Helena left the classroom she worked at the Teacher/Child Guidance Clinic, Bathurst and later became a Resource Consultant for the Bathurst Diocese Catholic Education Office. She was a woman before her time as she specialised in helping teachers initiate early intervention literacy programs in schools.
At age 69, she embraced the opportunity to minister for a time in Wasengla PNG, which she valued as a growth time in her life. Upon her return to Australia, Helena moved to Sydney and completed the “Home Tutor Course.” Living in the city was a new experience for her. She began teaching English and working with migrants, refugees and asylum seekers. She tutored people, especially women, in their own homes and assisted them to navigate and adjust to Australian society, customs and culture. She spoke of this as a very rewarding ministry during which time she made wonderful friends.
Helena was a woman of deep, earthy faith. She had a generosity of spirit which impelled her to reach out to others, offering assistance to her own sisters and to people in need, especially the disabled, under-achievers and those who were materially poor. She was selfless, hard-working and self-effacing. Helena loved nature and enjoyed tending her flower pots. She was interested in people and always enjoyed a good chat. Helena was mindful of, and grateful for, God’s gracious gifts in her life, often stating that she was only able to accomplish what she did through God’s grace.
In 2006, Helena moved to St. Anne’s Home at Perthville. She was transferred to St. Catherine’s Nursing Home in February last year. For some time she has been longing to meet God face to face and join her siblings and profession companions in heaven. She died just one week short of her 96th birthday in the 75th year of Religious Profession. May she rest in peace.