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Helen Walania encountered the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth (CSFN) at an early age. She, her three sisters and brother attended St. Stanislaus School in New Haven, CT. Young Helen left home for high school, attending Nazareth Academy in Philadelphia. She became a postulant during her senior year and professed her perpetual vows in 1941.
In almost 60 years of active ministry, Sr. Hedwig taught at Catholic grade schools in McAdoo, PA; Brooklyn, Elmhurst, Wading River, Southampton, Riverhead and Utica, NY, and Norwich, Derby, New Haven and Monroe, CT. She also served as institution manager at Little Flower Children's Services in Wading River, NY, responsible for purchasing for both Little Flower and the CSFN convent. Sr. Hedwig held a bachelor's degree from Manhattan college and a variety of professional certificates for administrative and religious education ministry.
Once she "retired," Sr. Hedwig was known for her great cooking, preparing outstanding meals and passing on cooking tips to other sisters. She also delighted teachers and students at Holy Trinity School, Utica, by decorating classroom and corridor bulletin boards. That same creativity was visible in the liturgical banners she created for special Masses and for the hooked rugs she worked on in retirement at the Monroe convent.
She had a large, extended family, and was close to her many nieces and nephews. A family member once remarked that it was Sr. Hedwig's prayers for them that kept the family going over the years. One sister remembered Sr. Hedwig in these words: "She was a quiet, smiling presence who was always positive in her outlook and dealings with the sisters, staff and children."
Sr. Hedwig, 95, died Feb. 3, 2011, at Immaculate Heart of Mary Convent, Monroe, CT, in the 79th year of her religious life.