Former LCWR president Helen Maher Garvey, BVM, a member of the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, died on August 6, 2017, in Dubuque, Iowa.
Her leadership spanned decades and found expression in a broad diversity of ministries and locales. She served for 16 years as president and vice-president of the congregation. In 1986, she was elected to the presidency of LCWR in 1986. In this role she addressed Pope John Paul II on behalf of American women religious when he visited San Francisco in 1987.
Her service on behalf of Catholic sisters entered uncharted territory when she chaired the LCWR history project to create a national exhibit, “Women & Spirit: Catholic Sisters in America.”
The highly acclaimed exhibit traveled to nine cities coast to coast over a three-year period from the Smithsonian in D.C., to Ellis Island, and westward to Dubuque and other cities on the way to the California coast.
In 2009, Helen received the LCWR Outstanding Leadership Award.
The citation summarized the leadership gifts of this woman deeply loved and widely admired by all who encountered her:
Who knows who she is, and where she stands, and what she believes,
Who listens to all opinions and finds consensus in divergent voices,
Who builds up everyone around her by expecting the best and acknowledging excellence,
Whose humor and charm open doors, rally troops, and disarm enemies,
Whose depth of knowledge in so many subjects, and understanding of human nature, empower her to connect with people from all walks of life.”