Sister Helen Balch
By Sister Alice Mailman
Helen Balch, S. Helen Joseph, was born in Kentville, NS in 1924. She was the oldest of three sisters. Living very close to the train tracks, she enjoyed watching to see if there were any Sisters on the train as it passed. After high school Helen worked in an office for seven years. She was invited by a friend to go on a retreat at the Motherhouse. It was during that retreat that she became acquainted with sisters and decided to join them.
Helen’s first mission was St. Sebastian’s in Woodside, New York where she taught for nine years. After teaching for a few more years in Nova Scotia, Helen returned to using her office skills in places such as the Halifax Infirmary in the payroll office, in Pax as Provincial Secretary, in the Motherhouse accounting office and then as Provincial Treasurer. She moved to Caritas Residence in 2011.
She began writing poetry on her first mission and thanks God for the inspiration for anything she creates. This is one of Helen’s poems.
Last night I watched the moon rise over the hill.
The trees like soldiers stood so very still.
The air was crisp, the snow was deep.
It seemed all nature was asleep.
And then I felt that time itself stood still.
As God with peace and love my soul began to fill.
He smiled on me in the pale moonlight,
As I gazed at the beauty of the night.
Helen’s sabbatical year in Galilee Institute in Arnprior, Ontario was a special time. Her retreat director, an Oblate from South Africa, became friends and corresponded for some time after. Helen attributes her secret to a long life to this belief: “God continues to care for me.”