"The greater the work the more
important it is to establish it on
a solid foundation. Thus it will
not only be more perfect; it
will also be more lasting.”

St. Louise de Marillac

“Be diligent in serving
the poor. Love the poor,
honor them, my children,
as you would honor
Christ Himself.”

St. Louise de Marillac


Remembering S. Helen Cranley

Sister Helen Cranley died April 18, 2023 at the age of 94 in Mother Margaret Hall, the nursing facility for the Sisters of Charity, Cincinnati, Ohio. Sister Helen was born on Dec. 24, 1928 to Thomas E. and Helen (Sullivan) Cranley in Cincinnati, Ohio. She was an only child, but enjoyed the presence of many cousins throughout her life. She was a Sister of Charity for 76 years.

Sister Helen grew up in Cincinnati, attending and graduating from St. Mary High School, Hyde Park, in 1946. She entered the Sisters of Charity the following September. It was the relationships and caring spirit that she experienced with her Sisters of Charity teachers in high school that drew her to consider a vocation to religious life.

Sister Helen earned a Bachelor of Science degree in nursing from the College of Mount St. Joseph in 1960. She earned a master’s in nursing, specializing in cardiovascular nursing at The Catholic University of America, Washington D.C., in 1969. She later taught pulmonary nursing in the graduate school at the University of Cincinnati.

Sister Helen’s ministries total 50 years, the majority of her time serving health care needs of adults. She spent 11 years in direct nursing, eight in nursing administration, 16 in nursing education followed by 14 more in community health services. Sister Helen began her years of service at Good Samaritan Hospital, Cincinnati, in 1952. She became nursing supervisor at San Antonio Hospital, Kenton, Ohio, in 1952, coming back to Cincinnati Good Samaritan in 1953 as head nurse. In 1957 she went West to Penrose Hospital, Colorado Springs, Colorado, as head nurse followed by six years as the nursing supervisor and then director of nursing for two more years at Penrose.

In 1967 Sister Helen went to study at The Catholic University of America where she specialized in cardiovascular nursing education. Upon completion of her studies she served as clinical specialist at Good Samaritan Hospital, Cincinnati, from 1969-’73 before teaching in the nursing department at the College of Mount St. Joseph and serving as a pulmonary nursing instructor in the graduate school at the University of Cincinnati.

In 1977 Sister Helen participated in the Global Sabbatical Education Program at the College of Mount St. Joseph and came in touch with her desire to take her nursing gifts to others beyond the formal hospital settings. She saw herself as a healing minister to separated and divorced Catholics within the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, serving as its first director from 1977 to 1984. This ministry served the pastoral needs of persons who had experienced alienation in their parishes. It provided an opportunity for consciousness-raising, causing many parishes to form their own support groups for those divorced and separated Catholics. It was a ministry that Sister Helen found to be life-giving and from which she formed many lasting friendships. 

In 1984 Sister Helen was asked to become the director of Health Services for the Sisters of Charity Motherhouse, the Clinic and liaison with Mother Margaret Hall and the hospitals. Her duties once again called upon her pastoral gifts of listening, follow-up and responding to individuals’ long-term health care needs. In 1994 Sister Helen began ministering in home care nursing where she would carry out the orders of physicians as persons were dismissed from the hospital, assessing the needs of the clients and helping them to adjust to their new parameters in their own home. In this role she was affiliated with CareWise home care connected with TriHealth health-related services in Cincinnati.

For her retirement years Sister Helen helped many others adjust to their new ‘normal,’ be it in her Norwood neighborhood or in Mother Margaret Hall as her own health declined. Sister Helen’s positive, joyful spirit was valued.

Associate Dave Scharfenberger remembers S. Helen as she was a member of St. Anthony Church for many years. He shared, “She was always caring about others and took an interest in those she met. Helen always had a smile on her face when I came to visit her, thanking me for coming. I will remember her smile and know that she is surely smiling today.”

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