Celebrated former president of religious order dies

Celebrated former president of religious order dies Sister Helen Maher Garvey

The former president of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious and of her order, the Sisters of charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary (BVM), has died age 82.

Sr Helen Maher Garvey entered religious life when she was just 17 and subsequently earned a doctorate in organisational development in Columbia University in New York City.

She was a teacher and principal of elementary schools across the US and was elevated to leadership in the BVM order in 1976. Sister Garvey served 16 years as either president or vice president of the congregation.

During her tenure, the BVMs created the Heartland Housing Initiative in Dubuque, Iowa, and renovated a stately old home into apartments for 22 families, naming it Helen Garvey Place. In 1993, she began an 11-year ministry as director of pastoral services for the Diocese of Lexington, Kentucky. She developed lay leadership and worked with parish councils in a largely rural and unchurched area.