Sister Helen Carpinelli, 65, teacher, pastoral associate

August 02, 2002

Sister Helen Carpinelli, a teacher and member of the Holy Union Sisters, died Sunday of pancreatic cancer at the religious order's St. Colman's Convent in Brockton, Mass. She was 65.

Born in Camden, N.J., she entered the Roman Catholic order in 1958. She took the name Sister Joseph Francis, which she used until returning to her given name in the 1970s.

She earned her bachelor's and master's degrees in education from Loyola College, where she also earned a certificate in pastoral counseling.

She taught at St. William of York Parochial School at Edmondson Avenue and Cooks Lane, and was a pastoral associate at St. Pius X Church in Rodgers Forge and All Saints Church in Forest Park. She also worked in pastoral care at Good Samaritan Hospital.

"She came to us as a very young sister and she grew up in the parish," said the Rev. Michael Roach, pastor of St. Bartholomew's Church in Manchester, who recalled her tenure at St. William of York from his days as a student there, and driving her to classes when they both attended Loyola.

"She made the best sweet rolls -- generous compensation for taking her back and forth," he said.

"As things changed, and new ministries opened to religious women, she was one of the first in her community to take on the position of director of religious education. She did yeoman work in several parishes," Father Roach said.

"She was scholarly and loved learning, but she had a funny bone and had a deep cackle," said Sister Jean Carpinelli, her sister, who is also a Holy Union nun. She noted that her sister had friends all over the world, many made via the Internet after she learned to use a computer.

Several years ago, she was elected to her order's general council in Rome, on which she served until last year, when ill health forced her retirement.

A memorial Mass will be offered at 11 a.m. tomorrow at St. Colman Church in Brockton.

Also surviving is another sister, Frances Mihna of Seven Hills, Ohio; and two nephews and two nieces.

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