The Call - S. Helen Fox
S. Helen Fox entered the Ursuline Sisters of Cleveland in 1954; it wasn’t until 25 years later that she entered the Sisters of Charity.
I had the Sisters of Charity from the fourth grade on, and I was always very close to all the Sisters who taught me. I went to Holy Name in Cleveland, Ohio, and I was always attracted to them; from the earliest years I wanted to be a Sister. Originally, I entered in 1951. Then, I was sidetracked. I was in the Novitiate from 1951 until 1954. … I had a record of having rheumatic fever as a child, [but by that time I] merely [had] a heavy case of rheumatism; they were afraid that it was rheumatic fever … they treated it as such. When my group was professed in 1953, Mother Mary Romana [Dodd]… said that if I wanted to wait until February, there would be a possibility that it would clear up, and they would let me stay.
I stayed until January 1954, and they asked me to leave because they were still afraid of rheumatic fever. Apparently they had other young Sisters who had rheumatic fever at the time…. I went home, but I always remained very, very good friends [with the Sisters]. The morning that I left, I went to Mother Mary Romana and said, “The last permission I want to have from you is permission to keep up with my friends.” Because, in those days, you didn’t associate with people after you left. She gave them all permission to write to me.
I hadn’t finished high school in 1951 when I entered, so I finished high school at Holy Name. At the end of June, I decided to look into other communities. I applied at the Cleveland Ursulines, and they were very, very accepting. After I got home, in fact, they could not find any trace of rheumatic fever. … I went to the Ursulines, and they said that if it should come back, we’ll have to send you home, but if you want to take a chance, you can come, we’ll accept you. So, I entered … in 1954.
I was with them for 25 years, [and as I] celebrated my 25 years, they just started—after Vatican II—talking about the possibility of transferring communities. As soon as I heard it, I thought, “I have to go back to the Mount!” My heart was always there, and the Ursulines were terrific [about it] … they were so accepting. So I thought, “I’m going to look into this.” I wrote to S. Mary Assunta [Stang], who was the superior then, and asked if she thought there would be any possibility [of coming back], and she said, “Absolutely. There is no doubt in my mind that you are called to come back to us, because you would not have the courage to go through this if it was not for real.” And the Ursulines couldn’t have done more for me: whenever they had a chance, they said, “Go visit the Mount, go visit your friends.” They were very, very open to it.
The whole transfer process went very smoothly. The Ursulines had a three-year Novitiate, we had a two-year Novitiate—so I had five years of Novitiate. S. Mary Assunta said, “Well, I don’t think you need any more Novitiate!” Now, more than 35 years later, I remain a Sister of Charity.Interviewed by Josh Zeller, Communications intern