Born November 30, 1928, in Baltimore, MD, to Joseph A. and Julia Hintenach Scheel, Sister Helen graduated from Shrine of the Little Flower School, Baltimore, in 1942, and the Catholic High School of Baltimore in 1946. She then worked as a bookkeeper and stenographer at The Boone-Elder Company, Baltimore, for 15 months, prior to entering Maryknoll Sisters at their Valley Park, MO, novitiate on October 30, 1947. She called Community of the Most Precious Blood Parish, also in Baltimore, as her home parish.
Following her entrance to Maryknoll, Sister Helen was given the religious name of Sister M. Paul Gerard. She made her First Profession of Vows on May 8, 1950, at Valley Park, MO and her Final Vows at the Maryknoll Sisters Motherhouse (now the Maryknoll Sisters Center), Maryknoll, NY, on May 8, 1953. She completed a bachelor’s degree in education at Maryknoll Teachers College in 1955.
Following her graduation, Sister Helen was assigned to the congregation’s U.S. Western Region. She taught Grades 2-8 at San Juan Capistrano Elementary School in California from 1955-1962, then became the school’s principal from 1962-1966, after which she was appointed Assistant Juniorate Mistress at Maryknoll, NY, a position she held from the summer of 1966 to the summer of 1967. From 1967-1973, she served as Local Superior at Monrovia, CA, and Regional Superior of the US Western Region. During this time, 1971-1974, she studied for a Master’s degree in adult education at California State University, Los Angeles, and worked as a teacher and coordinator of the Adult Basic Education Program for Monrovia Unified School District.
In 1974, Sister Helen was assigned to the congregation’s U.S. Eastern Region for family ministry in Baltimore, MD. While there, she worked in the Adult Education Program of the Baltimore County Education Department until 1997. During this same period, she worked at the Alliance for Justice, a third world advocacy project in Baltimore, funded by the Medical Mission Sisters.
Following her retirement in 1998, Sister Helen continued her involvement with justice and peace work and tutoring on a volunteer basis, until her return to the Maryknoll Sisters Center in 2007, where she lived until her death.
Sister Helen is survived by her brother, Brother Nivard Scheel of Elm Grove, WI.
A vespers service will be held for Sister Helen on January 7, 2016, at 4:15 p.m. in the Chapel of the Annunciation at the Maryknoll Sisters Center. A Memorial Mass will follow on January 8, 2016, at 11 a.m., also at the Center.