S. Marie Helene Werdel OSB, age 92, died on September 12, 2016. A wake service will be held at 7:00 PM on Thursday, September 15, and the Funeral Mass will be celebrated on Friday, September 16, at 10:00 AM, both in Bishop Marty Memorial Chapel in Yankton, South Dakota. Burial will be in the monastery cemetery. Arrangements are under the direction of the Wintz & Ray Funeral Home and Cremation Service in Yankton.
Barbara Werdel was born August 10, 1924 on a farm ten miles east of the Stephan Indian Mission in South Dakota. She was the second of seven children to John and Elizabeth (Kusser) Werdel. She went to country school through the eighth grade and then to Miller Public High and Mount Marty High School in Yankton. She entered Sacred Heart Monastery on August 15, 1942 after spending a year working on the family farm. She became a novice on June 23, 1943 and received the name Marie Helene. After making first profession on June 24, 1944, S. Marie Helene was sent to Dimock, South Dakota to teach. She made final profession on June 24, 1947 and continued to teach from 1947-1957 at Yankton, South Dakota; Pueblo, Colorado; Albion, Nebraska; and Richardton, North Dakota.
In June of 1957, she took on roles as Monastery Procurator and Business Manager at Mount Marty College. After sixteen years in these positions and supervising many building projects, she resigned in 1969 as Business Manager and continued as Director of Plant Operations at Mount Marty College. She completed her terms as Procurator in 1973 and for a short time managed the college bookstore along with plant management duties. She was a person who put her heart and soul into her work. She retired from Mount Marty College in 1994.
S. Marie Helene was a humanitarian by nature, and in 1994, she went to Moscow, Russia to the largest children's hospital to teach directors of environmental services. On her return she helped in the monastery guest department, gift shop, and was sacristan for a time. S. Marie Helene was a prairie woman of deep strength and integrity. She loved her family and prayed for them daily. She nurtured the wild life behind the monastery in her retirement years enjoying God's creatures at the bird feeders.
S. Marie Helene is survived by her Benedictine community, her sisters Theresa Summerton, Annabelle Clausen, and Leona Yanta, as well as many nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by her parents, a brother, and two sisters.
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Sister Marie Helene was one of the BEST Bosses I have ever worked for! She expected you to work hard and she was right beside you working as hard and usually harder than you! She made MMC beautiful and had such a Giant Heart! God Bless Her memory and Heaven just got a great groundskeeper!
Dan Wagner MMC "77" & "85-86"
Sr. Helene in the MMC bookstore was a fixture in my life and one of my enduring memories of the Mount. She was tough and no-nonsense but a good manager and role model.
Roger Filips, MMC 1981
MMC was fortunate having Sr. Marie Helene as Business Manager and Director of Plant Operations. Her competence and caring was evident in everything she did!
John W. Stene
Sister Marie Helene was all business and had what seemed like a no-nonsense approach. All the times I visited the bookstore my freshman year my greatest challenge was not finding the right textbook, but coaxing a smile out of her. It did get much better over time as I got to know her and appreciate her for the person she was and the strengths she brought to the College and the Monastery. May she rest in peace.
Dave Dickes, '76
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