Sister Helen Phillips M.M., Maryknoll Sister for 76 Years Dies

Sister Helen Dorothy Phillips, M.M. died on February 15th, 2021 at the Maryknoll Sisters Center, Maryknoll, NY. She was born on April 14th, 1926, in Hollis, NY, to Margaret (Murphy) Phillips and Patrick Phillips. She had four brothers and three sisters: Edward, Henry, William, Robert, Margaret, Anne and Patricia; she is survived by Robert and Patricia.

In 1940, Helen first attended Dominican Commercial High School, Jamaica, NY, then transferred to Mercy Juniorate High School, Brooklyn, NY from 1941-1943. She later graduated from Andrew Jackson High School, St. Albans, NY in 1944.

Following high school graduation, Helen entered the Congregation on September 6th, 1944 (from the Church of the Incarnation, Hollis, NY).She made her First Profession of Vows on March 7th, 1947 at the Maryknoll Sisters Center, Maryknoll, NY and her Final Profession on March 7th, 1950 in Mountain View, CA.

Sister Helen was first assigned to work in the kitchen and bakery for the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers, Clarke Summit, PA. In 1948, she transferred to the Maryknoll Sisters Novitiate, Valley Park, MO, where she taught baking and Gregorian Chant to the novices.  She then began working with migrant workers in Mountain View, CA, teaching catechism and working in a bakery in 1949. For the next eight years, she continued her catechetical ministry across the country in places such as: Stockton, CA, Houston, TX and Guadalupe, CA,

From 1957-1960, she attended Maryknoll Teachers College (located on the property of the Sisters Center, Maryknoll, NY), where she earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Education. Sister Helen received her first overseas mission assignment in 1960 to Juli, Peru. There, she began her catechetical ministry until 1961, when she was re-assigned to Riberalta, Bolivia to teach elementary and high school students and engage in youth ministry. In 1966,

she relocated to Arequipa, Peru to serve as high school principal and provide pastoral outreach to the community until 1972.

During this time, she also continued her education, attending the Instituto Superior de Pedagógico, Lima, Peru, where she earned a Bachelor of Education Degree in History/Geography and Biological Studies in 1969. She returned to Arequipa, Peru in 1973 to serve as principal of an “all girls” high school until 1975.

In 1975, Sister Helen returned to the Maryknoll Sisters Center, Maryknoll, NY for Congregational Service, working in the Development Department doing mission education and promotion work for three years.  During this time, she also continued her studies and earned a Master’s Degree in Theological Studies at the Maryknoll School of Theology (located on the property of the Sisters Center, Maryknoll, NY) in 1979. That same year, she was elected to serve as a Member of the Maryknoll Sisters Center Council until 1982.

Sister Helen then moved to New York City where she worked as a Coordinator of Secondary Education in the National Office of the Propagation of the Faith until 1989.

Her next mission journey took her to Hawaii, where she focused on ecumenical and pastoral outreach and assisting with Spanish translations in Honolulu from 1991-1993.  Sister Helen transferred back to Bolivia in 1993 to work in Administration in the Cochabamba Language School until 1996.

In 1997, Sister Helen returned to the Maryknoll Sisters Center, Maryknoll NY to semi-retire, but remained a very active volunteer.  She served in many Congregational Services capacities, including helping to initiate and administer the Maryknoll Sisters website and reorganize the photo archives department.

Funeral Services: Due to the pandemic, a Memorial Service was livestreamed for Sister Helen on February 19th, 2021 at the Annunciation Chapel, Maryknoll Sisters Center, Maryknoll, NY. Interment in the Maryknoll Sisters Cemetery followed.