Sister Helena Niederbauer, O.S.B.

June 6, 1909 – December 7, 2006

Sister Helena Niederbauer, OSB, 97, a Benedictine of Mount St. Scholastica, Atchison, Kans., died Thursday, Dec. 7, 2006, at the monastery. The vigil for both Sister Isidore Gonzales and for Sister Helena will be Monday, Dec. 11 at 7 pm in the monastery chapel and the Mass of Resurrection will be offered there for both Sisters Tuesday, Dec. 12 at 10:30 am.

Sister Helena Niederbauer%2C OSBBorn in Bavaria, Sister Helena came to the Mount in 1929, made monastic profession in 1931, and became a U.S. citizen in 1933. The last of the “German sisters” who came as missionaries to work with immigrant children, Sister Helena was a graduate of normal school education in home economics in Dillingham, Schwaben, Germany. She later earned the Bachelor of Science from Mount St. Scholastica College with a major in education and a minor in French. She made monastic profession in 1931, and from then until 1974 she taught elementary and middle grades in the schools of Missouri and Kansas (among them Guardian Angels and St. Anthony in Kansas City), and in Colorado and Nebraska. For a brief time she helped as housekeeper in mission school communities, and then returned to Atchison in 1976, where she assisted in various services and was an example of someone who had learned to “pray always.”

With one exception (Josephine, who died as a child), all the daughters of Alfons and Anna Ragl Niederbauer became religious. Two others also came to Atchison - Sisters Alverna and Mary Bertrand; two became Franciscans in Germany - Sisters M. Augustina and Reginalda – and a third, Sister Thelma, became a Benedictine. Her three brothers – Heinrich, Joseph, and Xavier remained in Germany. Sister Helena is survived by a niece and her husband, Lina and Baptist Berger, of Oberbayern, Germany, and by her monastic community. 

Let us remember her gratefully in our prayers. 


S. Helena's memorial card

“Lift up your hands to the holy place
and bless the Lord.”
Ps 134:1
 

Sister Helena came to this country from Stadel, Bavaria, in 1929, made monastic profession in 1931, and became a U.S. citizen in 1933. Her death makes her the last of our beloved “German Sisters.” Individually and as a group, their contribution to our community was a distinctive blend of persevering prayer, hard work, abandonment to God’s will, and the gemütlichkeit that smoothed the way for others and created a warm and loving atmosphere. Two others of her family came to the Mount community – Sisters Alverna and Mary Bertrand (who later became a member of the Benet Hill, Colorado community). Two others – Sister Augustina and Sister Reginalda – became Franciscan Sisters, and a third, Sister Thelma, a Benedictine. All of the daughters in the family of Alfons and Anna Ragl Niederbauer became religious except for Josephine, who lived less than two years. A graduate of normal school and of home economics study in Bavaria, Sister Helena earned the Bachelor of Science from Mount St. Scholastica College with a major in education and a minor in French. She taught elementary and middle grades in schools of Kansas, Missouri, Colorado, and Nebraska. Always a prayerful woman, she trusted God to make her road clear. Even in her older years she moved quickly, focused on task, kind and helpful but not ordinarily given to chatting. She was intent on being present at community prayer and Eucharist, and her prayer life spanned day and night. Gentle and peaceful in her aging, her generously given smile was benediction. Let us remember her in grateful prayer.

Sister Helena celebrated her 75th Jubilee of vows on February 10, 2006.