Sister Helen, 76

Teacher, receptionist

October 22, 2007

Sister Helen Dych, who worked for several religious institutions as a teacher and receptionist in Maryland, died Wednesday of heart failure during surgery at Providence Hospital in Washington. She was 76.

Sister Helen was a member of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur in the Chesapeake Province. For the past six years, she had worked as the daytime receptionist at St. Jerome's Rectory in Hyattsville.

"Her passion was people," said Sister Geri McPhee, who knew Sister Helen for about 30 years. "The children knew her. The parishioners knew her. Anyplace she was, everyone got to know Sister Helen."

Born in Philadelphia, Sister Helen was orphaned at the age of 9. She lived with aunts and uncles before joining the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur in 1949 at the Ilchester convent.

Sister Helen graduated from Trinity College in Washington, Sister Geri said.

Known to her students as Sister Mary William, Sister Helen taught for more than a decade at several elementary schools, including St. Ursula School in Baltimore and St. Martin's School in Gaithersburg.

She left teaching to work as a receptionist at Villa Julie College and the Jesuit Conference and Jesuit Secondary Education Association in Washington, where she worked until she came to St. Jerome's Rectory.

"She was extremely friendly and had a remarkable memory for faces and people," Sister Geri said. "She never forgot them."

Services will be held at 11 a.m. tomorrow at St. Jerome's Rectory in Hyattsville.

Sister Helen is survived by her local community, Sister Janet Cahill, Sister Joyce Volpini and Sister Geri McPhee of Hyattsville; and her friend, Sister Evelyn Bryan of Stevenson.

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