Sister Helen M. Dirig, FSSJ, 1932-2021
Sister Helen Dirig (formerly Sister Bartholomew) died peacefully on July 13, 2021, at Immaculate Conception Convent in the 89th year of life and the 60th year of religious life.
Helen Martha Dirig was born on Feb. 24, 1932, in Hancock, to Benjamin and Catherine (Peake) Dirig. On Aug. 22, 1959, she became a postulant with the Franciscan Sisters of St. Joseph and on Aug. 2, 1964, Sister Helen professed her final vows with the order.
Sister Helen received a bachelor’s degree in nursing from St. John University in Jamaica, New York, and her RN from St. Mary’s Hospital School of Nursing in Brooklyn. Throughout her religious life, Sister Helen served as a nurse for several years at St. Mary Hospital in Brooklyn and in the infirmary at the motherhouse of the Franciscan Sisters of St. Joseph in Hamburg. For over 22 years, 1965-1978 and 1981-1991, Sister Helen served as a missionary in Rio Verde, Goias, Brazil. During her first tenure there, she worked in home nursing, youth ministry, health education for student nurses, and as a supervisor at the hospital. When she returned, Sister Helen served on the parish administration team, as coordinator of youth ministry and as a leader of a basic Christian community. Upon her return to the U.S., Sister Helen served in pastoral ministry at Mother Cabrini Parish in Shamokin, Pennsylvania. Sister’s final years of active ministry were offered as a volunteer in the library and development office at Immaculata Academy in Hamburg, before joining her sisters in the Care Community in 2015 to serve in the ministry of prayer and presence.
Sister Helen met the Franciscan Sisters of St. Joseph at St. Mary School of Nursing and then continued her nursing career working with the sisters. In her heart she longed to be a missionary and, in time, her dream came true. While in Brazil, she felt fulfilled as she ministered to the poor.
Funeral services will be held privately. Burial will be at St. Stanislaus Cemetery, Cheektowaga.