Sister Agnes Helgenberger

April 5th 1934 – May 20th, 2024

 

 

Sister Agnes Helgenberger, OSB, 90, a Benedictine sister of Mount St. Scholastica, Atchison, Kan., died Monday, May 20, 2024, at the monastery. The vigil service will be Friday, May 24, at 7 p.m. in the monastery chapel; and the Mass of Resurrection will be celebrated there Saturday, May 25 at 9:00 a.m. *Please note change in time* Burial will be at Resurrection Cemetery, 5001 NE Cookingham Dr., Kansas City, Mo. 

Sister Agnes was born in Kolonia, Pohnpei, Micronesia, on April 5, 1934, the first of five children. In the matriarchal culture there, Sister Agnes was born to be “limese kedil” (matriarch of the clan). Instead, she followed God’s call to become a Mercedarian Missionary of Berriz in 1953 and taught for 30 years in Micronesia and Guam. She came to the United States in 1968 to earn her B.S. at St. Mary’s College in Leavenworth. 

During a sabbatical in 1989, while living in the Mercedarian community in Liberty, Mo., she began to pray the Divine Office with the nearby Benedictine Sisters. She subsequently entered Queen of the Angels Monastery and made her lifetime vows in 1996. During her years in Liberty, she served in their thrift store and food pantry, was a substitute teacher at Liberty High School, taught bible school, and ministered in prison. She loved teaching, especially the students with more challenging needs. Sister Agnes was elected prioress in 2007. When the Liberty monastery closed in 2018, she asked to become a member of Mount St. Scholastica, transferring her profession in March of 2020. Faithful to prayer and generous in service, she brought joy to both sisters and staff in Dooley Center. She also remained a highly respected, beloved and central member of the Micronesian community in the Kansas City area. 

 Sister Agnes was preceded in death by her parents, Edmund and Martha (Wilson) Helgenberger, her brothers, Aluis, Domingo, and Cyril Helgenberger, and her sister, Cypriana Mendiola. She is survived by nieces and nephews and her monastic family. Arensberg-Pruett Funeral Home (www.arensbergpruett.com) is in charge of arrangements. Memorials may be sent to Mount St. Scholastica or made online at the Mount’s web site (www.mountosb.org).

Reflection for the Funeral Vigil

 

by Sister Connie Krstolic, OSB 

May 24, 2024

 

We your Benedictine sisters offer you our prayerful support and love as we together celebrate Sister Agnesgoing to meet God face to face

Her love for each of you, her family, her friends and for each of us was such a witness of her gift of love that she always shared wherever she journeyed. For the love of Jesus was poured into her heart through the gift of the Holy Spirit. 

As many of us knew, as did her family, Sister Agnes treasured her Micronesian Heritage… the people, the importance of family, the food and the dances. There were many celebrations here, filled full of love, life and energy with even a whole PIG at her 90th birthday party. 

As we know, Dances have different movements. There were 4 different movements in Agneslife that were evident to me as we shared over many years. These movements were bound together with two threads, the thread of love and the thread of letting go

In the first movement, Agnes was caught up in the love of her native homeland and her family in Micronesia. This movement moved her into her first religious community, the Mercedarian missionary sisters of Berriz in Micronesia where she was a professed member for 30 years; the thread of love, was woven into the hearts of the people whom she served

The first thread of letting go took place when she went on Sabbatical and studied at St. Mary’s college in Leavenworth. While on sabbatical, she eventually met and lived with the Benedictine Sisters in Liberty, Mo leaving behind her homeland her family and her first community. 

In the second movement of her dance, Sister Agnes found herself being welcomed by the Benedictine sisters especially by Sister Imelda Koch, the prioress of Queen of Angels monastery. She was caught up in the thread of love sharing in their ministry of love and care for women with developmental disabilities at Immaculate Manor. She once told me that it was the Benedictine prayer life and communal living that drew her into the Benedictine way of following Jesus, loving and serving His people

She became a professed member of Queen of Angels monastery in 1996 sharing the thread of love with students, prisoners, the people of God, believing that since God loved her, she should love others, all whom God invited into her life’s journey. No one was to be excluded. 

Walking with Jesusas she would put it, is a delicate walk where one sees the poor and those hungry for God.We are called to love all as God has loved us

During her time in Liberty, she became prioress. Her ministry grew into sharing with the women whom God was inviting to join them. She brought these women in formation to the Mount for classes in the Rule of St. Benedict and scripture which many of us taught. 

Because of her declining health, Sister Imelda, Sister Agnesformer prioress at Queen of Angels monastery came to reside in Dooley Center, here at the Mount. Sister Agnes frequent- ly came to visit Sister Imelda. It was during these visits that Sister Agnes grew to know us and we her. 

The thread of letting go, though, was looming again in Sister Agnesjourney to God. This time, Queen of Angels monastery was closing. Sister Agnes would say, “I want to remain as a Benedictine Religious and I want to die as a Benedictine Religious. This is my only de- sire.I reached one of the most painful decisions in my life, the decision to close the Queen of Angels Monastery. I cried. I feel as though I have diedyet knowing there is always a resurrection

In this third movement, Sister Agnes asked to join us in community here at the Mount and in that joining she brought along all of you her family for which we are forever grateful

The thread of love in this third movement is so very simple. It is found in Jesuswords to COME….come….COME TO ME, Agnes, you are weary and I will give you Rest. 

As family you gathered around her bed and sang songs that brought her and you, as well, comfort in knowing that Jesus was near…the thread of letting goand your dear Agnes responded in love to the one who first loved her

In this final movement, the 4th movement, there is only the thread of love for Agnes has fallen into the hands of Jesus, the Jesus with whom she spent many hours talking as she sat before the tabernacle. All is well with you Agnes. Intercede for us so that all will be well with each of us….with all of us.