Benedictine Sister Helenette Baltes, 104, died Jan. 2 at St. Scholastica Convent, St. Cloud. A Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated Jan. 8, at the Sacred Heart Chapel, St. Benedict’s Monastery, St. Joseph, with burial in the monastery cemetery.
Odilia Veronica Baltes was born Sept. 11, 1915, the seventh of 13 children to Peter and Mary (Mader) Baltes in Sleepy Eye, Minnesota, where she attended St. Mary’s Grade School and High School. On Sept. 5, 1933, Odilia entered St. Benedict’s Monastery, was received into the novitiate June 18, 1935, taking the name Sister Helenette, made her first monastic profession July 11, 1936, and perpetual monastic profession July 11, 1939.
When St. Bede Monastery, Eau Claire, Wisconsin, became independent in 1948, Sister Helenette was one of the founding members. It was there that she celebrated her golden jubilee in 1986 and 60th anniversary in 1996.
A graduate of the College of St. Benedict, Sister Helenette earned a bachelor’s degree with a major in music. She attended the Benedictine Institute of Sacred Theology at the College of St. Benedict/St. John’s University and the McPhail School of Music in Minneapolis.
Sister Helenette served in music ministry as teacher, choir director, organist and gave private piano lessons in Albany and Wayzata, Minnesota, Wahpeton, North Dakota, and Eau Claire and Ellsworth, Wisconsin. She also worked for nine years at the Catholic Education Center in St. Paul.
At St. Bede Monastery, Sister Helenette served as subprioress, community secretary, liturgist, organist and in formation as director of women in first monastic profession; she also volunteered as part-time organist at Sacred Heart Hospital in Eau Claire. In 2007, Sister Helenette retired to Clairmont Nursing and Rehabilitation in Eau Claire where she resided until 2010 when St. Bede Monastery merged with St. Benedict’s Monastery. At this time, Sister Helenette moved to St. Scholastica Convent, St. Cloud, where she undertook a ministry of prayer and community living.
Sister Helenette is survived by the sisters of her Benedictine community, her sister Margaret and nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by her parents and brothers, Roman, Lawrence, Norbert, Sylvester and Joseph, and by her sisters, Clara Schroepfer, Ceil Schulte, Marie Therese Heacock and Colette Emerentia.
Please direct memorial gifts to the Sisters of the Order of St. Benedict Outreach Ministries Fund.