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Sister M. Helen Jean Sullivan, RSM, passed away Saturday, March 8, 2014, at the Sisters of Mercy Motherhouse. She was in the 67th year of religious life. Sister M. Helen Jean was born March 24, 1927, in Corry, Pa., daughter of the late James P. and Helen (Lynch) Sullivan.
On September 8, 1947, she entered the Sisters of Mercy at St. Joseph Convent, Titusville, Pa., from St. Thomas Parish in Corry, Pa. She professed perpetual vows on June 21, 1953. In 1975, she celebrated her Silver Jubilee; in 1998, her Golden Jubilee; and in 2008, her Diamond Jubilee.
Sister M. Helen Jean studied music at Mercyhurst College (now University) and received her bachelor's degree in music with a major in voice from the New England Conservatory, Boston, Mass.; a master's of liturgical music from the University of Notre Dame
, and furthered her studies in voice at the Royal Conservatory of Toronto.
Throughout her life, Sister M. Helen Jean taught music, beginning at St. Justin School in Pittsburgh (1947-48), then at St. George School in Erie (1950-52). For over 50 years she kept music alive at Mercyhurst University, teaching from 1952 until her retirement in 2005, directing the music department (1954-1973), and then founding the Conservatory for young people to learn music at Mercyhurst (1974-2005). In 2008, the conservatory was renamed in her honor, Mercyhurst College's Sullivan Conservatory of Music.
Members of her religious community and several nephews survive her. In addition to her parents, her brother, James F. Sullivan has preceded her in death.
Friends may call at the Sisters of Mercy Motherhouse, 444 East Grandview Blvd., on Tuesday, March 11, from 2-4 p.m. and 7-8 p.m. A vigil service will be held on Tuesday evening at 7:00 p.m. in the community center. The funeral Mass will be celebrated on Wednesday, March 12 at 4:45 p.m. in the Sisters of Mercy Chapel. A rite of departure will take place at the Motherhouse on Thursday, March 13 at 9 a.m. with the rite of committal following at Gate of Heaven Cemetery. Memorial contributions may be made to the Sisters of Mercy Ministry Fund, 444 East Grandview Blvd., Erie, PA 16504. Interment, Gate of Heaven Cemetery. The Dusckas Funeral Home, Inc., 2607 Buffalo Road, is handling the arrangements.
Published in the Erie Times-News on Mar. 9, 2014