Our university has lost a dear friend who through the '80s and into the '90s performed a vital role on this campus. From her office desk in the old campus ministry McGoldrick Center, Sister Helen Bendik, O.P. kept a watchful eye on students, faculty and staff alike. Looking out onto the main entrance to campus, Helen’s smiling face was one of the first things people noticed when entering the campus and her ministry of hospitality would envelop both friends and strangers.
Campus Ministry was only a part of Helen’s work and those who were lucky enough to know her remember her dream interpretation workshops, Myers Briggs and Enneagram sessions as well as her longstanding work as moderator of the 4th floor of Bellermine. A little know fact about her was the pivotal role she played in getting a wrongly convicted inmate in the state penitentiary in Monroe released. This story became a feature article in the Alaska Airlines magazine.
Helen was famous for working back channels in order to retain students who were struggling with the many facets of university life. A call from Helen could secure additional financial aid, find much needed counseling or work out issues in the residence halls.
Helen’s greatest gift was her ability to help anyone and everyone understand how much they were loved by God. Through her patience and understanding she could sense what people needed and help them remove the obstacles which get in the way of a true relationship with God. Her mantra was “All Is Gift” and her life reflected that. Her legacy at SU lives on in the lives of the many students and university members whom she touched. She will be missed.
Mike "The Mayor" MullenSeattle University '89Facilities Operations
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Beautiful tribute Mike! Helen is smiling down on you and our community. I look forward to seeing many alumni on Saturday at 4pm. "All is Gift!" Erin Swezey
Thank you Michael for your distillation of the role Sister Helen played in many of our lives.
I am deeply saddened to hear of her passing. I grieve not getting the opportunity to say goodbye. And I celebrate with confidence that she knew how deeply loved she was, and what a monumental and formative impact she had on so many of us.
At the memorial or over beer at the Elysian - let us toast this wonderful human being who shepherded us through crisis and triumph, always seeing the very best in us, whether we did or not.
In mutual love and gratitude,
Sister Helen was source of comfort and tranquility when I was a student at SU. She was one of a few people that taught me that God would always want us to choose life over death. That resonated with me when I was agonizing over difficult life choices. That phrase always made it clear to me which way I should go.
Several conversations and moments with Sr. Helen easily came to mind when reading of her passing (and more will come all night and weekend). What will stick more than any given conversation, of course, is the memory of her gentle spirit. She has long been missed by those of us who knew her from the old brick McGoldrick building... missed, but not forgotten. Thanks Sr. Helen!
During my darkest period of depression in college, I called Sr. Helen from the hospital for guidance. (I had lived on Bellarmine 4th floor.) Even if she did not remember me, she took time to speak with me and suggested I pray. Even though I had given up on God at that time, I kept my promise to Helen and repeated her prayer over and over while looking out the window of my room in the U of W Hospital. As I watched it rain over Lake Washington, the sun slowly broke through the clouds. As I saw light that afternoon, the words of the doctors, therapists and other patients sharing their voyage up from despair started to brighten my own darkness.
In many ways I credit my struggle through depression and graduation from Seattle U in 1989 to Helen. She was a truly inspirational woman and a blessing to all of us.
Enjoy a better life Helen and thank you.
Our service on sat. was a one more occasion where Helen's presence blessed all those around. In the company of three of her fellow nuns(including Sr. Sally Lowell) and two of her nieces who wonderfully cared for as she was dying, we filled the chapel with her spirit. After a short reception in the piggot atrium, we ended up at the Elysian where the celebration continued on into the late night just as Helen would want.
A great reunion of the old campus ministry staff with Fr. Joseph McGowan wonderfully leading from the alter, Lisa Ursino in the choir of alums and Erin Sweezy and Tim Leary filling the pews along with a great gathering of former students we celebrated a life which was "All Gift". We ere also joined by Fr. John Whitney later in the evening. Lisa and Erin, thank you for the beautiful service you put together
God bless her but she really isn't a nun unless she wears the traditional habit
Thinking of Helen brought a smile to my lips and a warm feeling in my heart. She was like a steady candlelight shining in the campus ministry window during my years on campus. I am grateful that her life was well-celebrated.
Thank you for the chance to honor Sisterr Helen. I was in the "Corpus" program and ending a 22 year marriage. Helen was always ready witth a smile as she listened to my travails with my 3 teenage children. Yes, I was depressed but too busy to know it!! Helen and Sister Suzanne Jabro, later director of Prison Ministry in the LA archdiocese, kept me focused on what is truly important. May Sister Helen rest in God's peace and love.
Thank you Mike for that beautiful tribute to Sr. Helen. I am sorry to miss the memorial. I do so remember leaving for class from Bellarmine Hall and purposely looking into the window where Sr.Helen sat, so I could a dose of encouragement, a smile from her. Micki thank you too for sharing. What amazing gift Sr.Helen gave you back then and what am amazing gift you now give to us by your gift of truth and humility.
Words cannot describe how much Sister Helen helped me during my time at Seattle University. In my senior year, I suffered through much stress and uncertainty. Sister Helen observed my distress and with gentleness and pure concern just listened to me unravel my "issues". I did not say much, but she completely understood my pain. Her kindness has always been an inspiration to how much love can overcome any pain. She will always be Christ in person to me!
While I am saddened to hear of Sr. Helen's passing, my memories of her bring a smile to my face. Helen was the first nun that allowed me to call by her first name only--I thought that was so cool! She had a tremendous presence and spirit. Years after I graduated from SU, Helen learned of the birth of our first son. Helen had one of the sisters make a special drawing with his name incorporated and sent it to us. That was how kind and giving and thoughtful Helen was. She definitely ran the good race. God Bless you Helen.