Sister Helen Marie Strawa

Sister Helen Marie served her religious community for 72 years.
August 1, 1933 — May 12, 2024

Sister Helen Marie, (Rosalea), Helen Strawa, of Hamtramck, MI, served in religious life for 72 years when she entered eternal life at age 90 on the Feast of the Ascension, Sunday, May 12, 2024, in Livonia, MI.

Born August 1, 1933, Helen was baptized at Our Lady Queen of Apostles Church, Hamtramck, MI on November 12, 1933, the second of three girls born to Anthony and Mary (Komza): Alfreda, Helen and Christine (Dzon)+. It was unique that Helen made her First Communion and was Confirmed the same day – May 21, 1942.

Helen attended Our Lady Queen of Apostles, Hamtramck, and Our Lady Help of Christians, Detroit, Elementary Schools, and St. Ladislaus High School, Hamtramck. She recalled the traditions of holidays and holydays of years gone by when palms were carried for 40-hour Devotion and fresh flowers filled the Church, and when sacristy work included sewing on all the lace on the two-part albs.

As a young woman, Helen worked as a dental receptionist. With an interest in shorthand and typing, Helen thought of becoming a stenographer or a private secretary. Passing a Civil Service Exam, she was to report for work as a stenographer. God had other plans. After receiving advice from her confessor and praying to the Holy Spirit for enlightenment, Helen decided to refuse the Civil Service job and join the ARMY of CHRIST. On August 15, 1951, she arrived at the convent of the Felician Sisters in Livonia, MI. Following a year of postulancy, Helen was invested with the Felician habit and received the name Sister Mary Rosalea, later changed to Helen Marie. Sister pronounced first Vows in 1953 and Final Vows in 1959.

Sister Helen Marie earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Madonna University and a Masters in Religious Education from Aquinas College. The ministry of teaching began at St. Stephen School in Detroit, MI in 1953 and continued through the following schools for 19 years: Holy Family, South Bend, IN; St. Valentine, Kawkawlin (Beaver); Holy Ghost, Detroit; Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, Wyandotte; St. Hedwig, Bay City; St. Thecla, Mt. Clemens; Holy Family, South Bend, IN; St. Stephen, Detroit; St. Genevieve, Livonia; St. Damian, Westland; St. Adalbert, Toledo, OH (teacher-principal); St. Stephen, New Boston.

The missionary spirit was always alive in the heart of Sister Helen, and in 1972, Sister Helen Marie worked as a team with Sister Mary Therese Sonnenfeld in pastoral ministry that would span another 40 years.

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Serving where needed since 1874

Founded in Poland in 1855, the Felician Sisters are a congregation of women religious inspired by the spiritual ideals of their foundress, Blessed Mary Angela Truszkowska, and Saints Francis of Assisi, Clare of Assisi and Felix of Cantalice. Arriving in North America in 1874 following Blessed Mary Angela’s directive “to serve where needed,” they helped to weave the social service system. Today, the Felician Sisters founded, sponsor or support through the presence of our sisters, more than 40 ministries – all continuing to evolve to meet the needs of the people they serve.

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  • Felician Sisters of North America is a 501(c)3 tax-exempt organization.
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Felician Sisters of North America