Sister Helen Michael Horne is the daughter of Michael and Helen Horne and was born in Gillespie, Ill., and raised in Ss. Simon and Jude Parish there. Her parents named her Mary Joan. Her sister Dolores Lee lives in Mt. Olive, Ill. A brother, Michael, and a sister, Virginia, as well as her parents, are deceased.
Sister Helen Michael’s early religious life was spent in the services of elementary school children. After her profession of vows in 1961 she taught at St. Joseph School, Bradley, Ill., then in 1963 moved on to Holy Rosary School, Duluth, Minn. In 1973 she returned to central Illinois, serving as principal and junior high teacher at St. Mary School, Assumption, and then as principal of Our Saviour School, Jacksonville, where she served until 1981.
Sister Helen Michael is known throughout the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois for her work in religious education. She worked as a consultant for catechesis and adult education for the diocesan Office of Religious Education, 1981-1987. Her passion for teaching adults was refreshed with a year of study at Gonzaga University 1988 where she earned a certificate in spirituality and retreat direction. Thereafter she was part of a network of pastoral ministers in central Illinois who provided spiritual direction, taught adult enrichment courses in Church history, prayer and the sacraments, and led sessions for the practice of centering prayer, a form of Christian meditation popularized by the monks of St. Joseph’s Abbey, Spencer, Mass.
She provided spiritual renewal for the sisters at Sacred Heart Convent, 1988-1994 and was a pastoral minister and spiritual director at Blessed Sacrament Parish, Springfield, 1999-2003.
Ill health necessitated retirement from active ministry for Sister Helen Michael in 2009, but she continued to encourage others on their spiritual journeys for as long as she was able.
Sister Helen Michael likes to recall the story of her vocation. The sisters who taught her in high school regularly urged her to become a sister. She told her pastor “If those nuns don’t get off my back, I’ll scream.” He said to her “Did you ever think they might be right?” When she protested that she couldn’t think of joining the congregation that taught her he offered to bring her to Springfield to visit with the Dominicans. He dropped her off at the door of the convent and went on to visit his mother. Within weeks she’d made her decision, applied, and began a program of formation that led to a fulfilling life for 60 years.
Congratulations Sister Helen Michael!