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Sister Helen Sherrard, BVM (Agneselle)

Sister Helen Sherrard, BVM (Agneselle), 87, died Oct. 21, 2013, at Marian Hall in Dubuque, Iowa. Visitation will be from 9–11 a.m. on Friday, Oct. 25, 2013, in the Marian Hall Chapel followed by a prayer service at 11 a.m. Funeral liturgy will be at 1:30 p.m. Burial is in the Mount Carmel cemetery.

She was born Dec. 17, 1925, to William and Agnes Mae Larson Sherrard. She entered the BVM congregation from Sacred Heart Parish, Boone, Iowa, on Sept. 8, 1943. She professed first vows on March 19, 1946, and final vows on Aug. 15, 1951.

Sister Helen was an educator and administrator in Wichita, Kan.; Pasadena, Calif.; Cedar Falls, Clinton, Iowa City, Davenport, Dubuque and Tama, Iowa. She was librarian, parish minister and volunteer in Chattanooga, Tenn.

She was preceded in death by her parents. She is survived by a brother Robert (Penny) Sherrard, Childers, Texas; nieces and nephews; and the Sisters of Charity, BVM, with whom she shared life for 70 years.

Sister Helen Sherrard, BVM (Agneselle)
Funeral Welcome
Marian Hall, Oct. 25, 2013

Good afternoon and welcome to the celebration of life of our Sister Helen Sherrard.

Helen Louise Sherrard was born on Dec. 17, 1925, in Boone, Iowa, the eldest of two children born to William and Agnes Mae Larson Sherrard. A brother Robert (Bob) completed the family. Helen developed a love of traveling early in life when her father, who worked for the railroad, was able to obtain free coach tickets. She made many trips to visit her aunts in California. “The Sherrards were very close,” Helen said during an interview. “We would go to a town and look up the Sherrards in the telephone book. If you were a Sherrard, you were family.” Helen was only 11 when her mother died from heart disease. Aunt Emma, her father’s sister, moved into their house to help raise Helen and Bob.

Helen graduated from Sacred Heart in Boone in a class consisting of four boys and 10 girls, three of whom entered the BVMs. Susie Judge, Betty (Rose Andre) Koehler, and Helen entered the congregation on Sept. 8, 1943. Helen received the name Agneselle upon her reception on March 19, 1944, professed her first vows on March 19, 1946, and was sent to Mount Carmel in Wichita, Kan., to teach first grade. “They were so little and cute,” said Helen, “but they wouldn’t stop talking. I lasted a week. I was promoted to study periods in the morning and fifth and sixth grade in the afternoon. This I loved and was full time the following year.”

Helen was an excellent teacher who was adored by her students. She taught junior high students for 25 of her 70 years as a BVM. Besides Wichita, she was missioned in Pasadena, Calif.; and Cedar Falls, Clinton, Iowa City, Davenport and Tama, Iowa. She served as the principal at St. Patrick in Iowa City and at St. Mary in Clinton. She also taught at the newly established Montessori school at Mount Carmel which originally held classes in Loyola Hall and later in the Barn.

The years Helen lived in Pasadena were special for two reasons: the large number of BVMs in the area who frequently gathered and the Rose Bowl Parade. One year the sisters were able to get tickets to view the parade from the sun porch. “I was thrilled to see my favorite actor, Bill Boyd, Hopalong Cassidy, in the parade,” Helen recalled. “When he saw the crowd of ‘Black Veils,’ he stopped. He and his horse made a deep bow to us. I was thrilled!”

In 1982, Helen moved to Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Chattanooga, Tenn., where she worked as a librarian, coordinated services for the homebound and visited the sick. “I came for one year,” Helen commented, “and stayed 21 years. This was my favorite mission. The people were so gentle and friendly.” She also enjoyed living at the foot of the mountains. When friends traveled to Chattanooga to visit Helen, she savored the opportunity to play hostess and even read a book on Tennessee history to better serve as a tour guide for her guests.

Helen was a people person who made wonderful friends wherever she lived. She deeply loved her father, Bob and sister-in-law Penny, her nieces Roxanne and Sandy, and kept in close contact with a number of cousins. When she was missioned in Clinton, her father would take the train to visit her for a few hours and then return home the same day. Sister Peggy Devereux remembers accompanying Helen on home visits and enjoying fun-filled picnics with the extended Sherrard family. During Peggy’s home visits, Helen, in full habit, would get down on the floor to play with Peggy’s nieces and nephews. The children thought of her as part of the Devereux family. Helen had a wonderful sense of humor and an adventurous spirit. She was always ready to try something new, whether diligently working to learn Spanish or riding a camel during a trip to Spain.

Jesus said, “It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain.” The manner in which Helen lived her life as indeed produced lasting “fruit” in the lives of her students, friends, family and her BVM sisters. With grateful hearts we celebrate her entrance into eternal life.

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