In Memoriam


Helen Michels, Associate

(1936-2016)

Helen Michels was one of 14 children born to Anton and Lucille (Owens) Michels. She was born in 1936 in Palm Bay, Florida, but moved around Florida as her father was a carpenter involved in various building projects. The family settled in Sanford, Florida, where many of her siblings remained.

Helen was educated in public schools, and was given a strong foundation of faith from her parents, who emphasized consideration and sacrifice. Helen attended Barry College (University), Miami, Florida, where she says she “was overcome by the joy and exuberance of the Adrian Dominicans.”

In June 1955, Helen entered the Congregation. Known then as Sister Paul Anton, she was missioned in Puerto Rico to teach at the Colegio San Antonio. Helen was also drawn to the public school students who had no one to minister to them. Her attention was divided between the Catholic school and the public school students, and it was challenging.  

Helen worked on a steering committee for a drug treatment program and began working there full-time in spiritual orientation, striving to find solutions for the myriad of problems in Puerto Rico.

In time, Helen discerned that she needed to address some of her own issues, and made a decision to leave religious life in 1980. After moving to Florida, she returned to Puerto Rico to direct a special project for federal prisoners in a privately contracted halfway house. She married Jacinto Betancourt, and they were happily married for nine years until his sudden and unexpected death at age 51.

“Sisters Joyce Caulfield and Elisa Doherty connected with me at Jacinto’s wake and were a source of consolation many times in the years that followed,” Helen wrote. She stayed in close contact with them until she retired in 2002. She moved to Sanford, Florida, and ministered through her presence to her siblings and their children.

A very Spirit-filled woman, Helen described spirituality as “a movement toward wholeness and the power of love. My prayer is an attitude of the mind and heart to praise and thank the Creator and Life Giver in the smallest things to the largest of creation.”

Helen was mentored by Sisters Clarice Moyle, OP, and Ann Englert, OP, and made the commitment to Associate Life in 2006. She attended Mission Group meetings and Chapter gatherings and submitted her Annals, describing her life of prayer.

Although her health was fragile for the last few years, Helen continued to send cards, pray, and to be present to others. She died at home on December 28, 2016.

A memorial Mass was celebrated for Helen on January 14 at All Souls Historic Chapel in Sanford, Florida. Many Sisters and Associates attended this celebration, including Associate Denise Dudley who shares the following about Helen.

“A woman of faith who lived her faith. Helen’s hunger and thirst for righteousness was evident. She fought for justice and lived her life for God. God was definitely present over her and God was ready to meet her. The best of Helen, to her, was her family. She was ninth of 14 children and moved to Sanford, Florida at the age of 6 and attended All Souls Catholic Church.” We thank God for the blessing that Helen was to her family, to our Congregation and to those who needed an advocate.

A memorial Mass was celebrated for Helen on January 14 at All Souls Historic Chapel in Sanford, Florida. Many Sisters and Associates attended this celebration, including Associate Denise Dudley who shares the following about Helen.

“A woman of faith who lived her faith. Helen’s hunger and thirst for righteousness was evident. She fought for justice and lived her life for God. God was definitely present over her and God was ready to meet her. The best of Helen, to her, was her family. She was ninth of 14 children and moved to Sanford, Florida at the age of 6 and attended All Souls Catholic Church.” We thank God for the blessing that Helen was to her family, to our Congregation and to those who needed an advocate.

make a memorial giftMemorial gifts may be made to Adrian Dominican Sisters, 1257 East Siena Heights Drive, Adrian, Michigan, 49221.

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Avatar  Rosa María (Torres) Rodríguez 11 months agoReply

I had the privilege of knowing her while she was in Puerto Rico. Truly dedicated to teaching and giving from the heart. She touched many and left beautiful memories. May she Rest In Peace.



Cemetery of the Adrian Dominican Sisters

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