"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

 

Sister Helen Berson

Sister Helen Berson died Jan. 15, 2024, at the age of 86 in Mother Margaret Hall, the nursing facility for the Sisters of Charity. Sister Helen was born on June 14, 1937, to Joseph J. and Margaret (Evers) Berson in Cincinnati, Ohio. She was one of three children, having a sister and a brother. She was a Sister of Charity for 68 years.

Sister Helen grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio, attending St. William and then St. Teresa of Avila grade school and graduating from Seton High School in 1955. The seeds of her vocation became serious as a high school junior at Seton when she was encouraged by her mentor, Sister Mary Consolata Schmidt, as well as her observant mother, to become a Sister of Charity.

Sister Helen earned a Bachelor of Science degree in pharmacy from the University of Cincinnati in 1961 and an MBA in management from the University of Cincinnati in 1978. Early on Sister Helen desired to be a math teacher but the SC leaders had pharmacy in mind for her.

Sister Helen’s ministries spanned 55 years, 38 in pharmacy, three in research and 14 more serving in the Sisters of Charity Finance Office. She was first missioned to Good Samaritan Hospital, Cincinnati in 1957 to be closer to her studies at the University of Cincinnati and to get a taste of hospital life. In 1961, after completing her degree in pharmacy, she was missioned to St. Mary-Corwin Hospital, Pueblo, Colorado, serving as their chief pharmacist. In 1965 she returned to Good Samaritan Hospital, Cincinnati for one year and then went to Good Samaritan, Dayton, Ohio, in the pharmacy department until returning to Good Samaritan, Cincinnati for three years (1967-’70). It was at this time Sister Helen was beginning to learn of the needs in rural areas and chose to go to a coal miner’s hospital in Whitesville, Kentucky. She was called back to serve the health needs of her Sisters in Mother Margaret Hall in 1972, remaining there for three years. 

In 1975 Good Samaritan Hospital, Cincinnati looked to Sister Helen to study, create and implement an up-to-date pharmacy system with a 24/7 model of operation. She saw it as an opportunity for ongoing learning regarding the pharmacy profession. From 1978 to 1981 she helped to successfully implement the plan at the hospital; it meant new packaging, the establishment of patient profiles, 24-hour pharmacy availability and a simplified charging system. Sister Helen considered this monumental project as one defining her pharmacy career and her greatest professional challenge.   

Next she chose to serve as a consultant pharmacist for St. Joseph Home from 1981-1988 and gave the last 10 years of her ministry to Cincinnati’s Pauline Warfield Lewis Center, helping individuals with both an intellectual disability and mental illness through drug therapy. Upon retiring from pharmacy in 1997, Sister Helen spent the next 14 years working in the Sisters of Charity Finance Office making the annual finance processes and paperwork for taxes, budgets and reports as easy as possible. She also spent six years as a Townhall Network Leader offering pastoral support for her Sisters.

Sister Helen’s creative outlet centered on liturgical singing and as a cantor; she was a member of the Sisters of Charity Music Ministry and served three west side parish choirs in her retirement years. She also enjoyed many years of volunteering with the pastoral care department at Good Samaritan Hospital, Cincinnati.

Sister Helen would say of herself, “Over the years in the Finance Office I became a familiar person to call to get answers or to give direction to solve a problem. It has been the part of this ministry I liked most, helping me to know my Sisters personally.” She helped to administer both the SC Charitable Trust and the SC Finance Committee. She was truly one who served, providing wisdom as well as humor.

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