Sister Helene de Sainte Chantal first saw the light of day on November 21, 1927, a significant date when the church commemorates the Presentation of Our Lady in the Temple. It was not surprising then, that devotion to Mother Mary was to mark Sister Helene throughout her life.
Her parents, Francis and Rose Anna had four children and Sister was the eldest of them. She was followed by her two brothers and a sister. From her birthplace in Goa, the family moved to East Africa where her father worked. At a time when political unrest was brewing in that country, it was thought prudent to return to India and they settled in Bangalore, in the vicinity of the Sacred Heart Parish. It proved advantageous to the children's academic training and spiritual progress. At School, Sister joined the Legion of Mary, which led her on to the path of meeting the Little Sisters and the poor elderly in the Home at Bangalore. She heard God calling her to religious life of a Little Sister of the Poor and joined the group of postulants at Madras. She continued her formation in the Novitiate of Sydney where she pronounced her first vows on December 8, 1948. Later Sister Helene pronounced her final vows on June 29, 1957, at the Mother House in La Tour Saint Joseph, Rennes, France.
From there, God called her to take on responsible tasks as Councillor, Assistant and Superior in different Homes. At the creation of the Province of India, independent from that of the Far East, Sister Helene de Sainte Chantal was named its first Provincial. Throughout her tern of office she showed a genuine concern for each Little Sister, doing her best to encourage them in their vocaton and apostolic work. As Provincial, she accepted the foundations of the Homes in Coonoor, Mysore, and Tuticorin. Anxieties about the finances were not lacking combined with the worried of a growing Province. Moving from one Home to another entailed long journeys which in days gone by, lacked the comfort of our times. Sister Helene was courageous, full of faith and confident that it was God's work.
Sister had at heart to pray for vocations and zealously worked and prayed to the Lord of the harvest to send more labourers into His vineyard. Her life and example has been a beacon to many girls who joined the Little Sisters of the Poor.
Her zeal for the souls prompted her to seek out the poorest, to do all within her power to make them happy. She showed everyone such a depth of kindness, an understanding of their troubles and went out of her way offering her help. She remains an example of generosity and charity; no one really knows the number of needy people who sought her help.
To us Little Sisters, Sister Helene de Sainte Chantal is another Saint Jeanne Jugan, always inviting us to overlook our own pain and bring joy in the lives of others. She showed this to the very end forgetting herself, smiling and interested in everyone who visited her. Her family was especially close to her and their presence brought her so much comfort. As her last moments approached we could hear her saying, "Mother come, Jesus come." It seemed to echo the words of Saint Jeanne Jugan, our Foundress whose last words of Saint Jeanne Jugan, our foundress, whose last words were, "O Mary, you know you are my mother, do not abandon me."
Her brother and sister-in-law were beside her when she expired. The community of Little Sisters was praying and singing hymns as Sister Helene entered into eternity.
It was at 6.50 p.m. August 30, the feast day of Our Mother Foundress Saint Jeanne Jugan, who led her to Jesus and to share in His eternal glory.
A gentleman who visited the Home during the month of December 2017 was terribly sad to hear about the death of Sister Helene and prayed at her tomb. He said, "Mother Helene has been helping me since five years. I was really in the pit, dejected and depressed and she lifted me up. I just cannot believe that she is no more." Sister Helene touched the lives of many people, young and old.
As she looks down on us from the heavenly abode she will be smiling and saying to us, "Thank you for everything; God bless you, I am praying for you."
Let us join together in thanking God for the beautiful person of Sister Helene de Sainte Chantal, for the many graces and blessing, bestowed on her during her lifetime as we pray for her soul to rest in peace.