Sister Helen (Ardette) Keating, FSPA
Sister Helen Keating, Franciscan Sister of Perpetual Adoration, 93, died of cancer Tuesday, May 14, 2020, at Villa St. Joseph, La Crosse. She was in the 73rd year of her religious profession. Born Oct. 16, 1925, in Prairie du Chien, Helen Cecilia was the second oldest daughter of Frank and Willa (Cherrier) Keating. Sister Helen made profession of vows as a Franciscan Sister of Perpetual Adoration Aug. 12, 1947.
After high school, Sister Helen completed coursework at St. Francis Hospital School of Nursing and served as an RN at St. Mary’s Hospital, Sparta. Sister Helen taught one year at St. Mary’s School, Marathon, Wis. before devoting the rest of her life to the healthcare profession. She ministered at St. Anthony’s Hospital, Carroll, Iowa, Sacred Heart Hospital, Idaho Falls, Idaho, and was medical and surgical instructor at St. Francis Hospital School of Nursing, La Crosse. Sister Helen served her FSPA community as Director of Nursing at Villa St. Joseph 1964-65, prior to being asked to complete a Master’s degree in nursing education at Columbia University New York City, NY 1965-67. She then returned to the faculty of St. Francis Hospital School of Nursing to teach and later assisted with the transition of the school to the baccalaureate degree nursing program at Viterbo University. Thereafter, she also served as healthcare province representative on the general board, coordinator of formation at Healthcare House of Studies, and provincial of FSPA Healthcare Province (1972-1979). From 1980 to 1981, Sister Helen ministered as a nurse in Larned, Kan. She then moved back to La Crosse where she was a nursing instructor at Viterbo College (University) School of Nursing from 1981 to 1984. After Viterbo, she became employee health director at St. Francis Medical Center (MCHS-FH) until 1991. For the next five years, Sister Helen served as a staff nurse at St. Rose Convent Health Center. Sister Helen retired and continued to serve as “on-call nurse” from 1995-2005, before moving to St. Rose Convent. In 2008 she took up residence at the Villa and served as a volunteer there until her health began to fail.
Sister Helen is survived by her Franciscan community including a sister, Sister Patricia Keating, FSPA; and nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by her parents; her brother, John; and her sisters, Marydel Huinker, Kathleen Callahan and Sister Jeanne Keating, FSPA.
Due to the COVID-19 restrictions, the Mass of Christian Burial for Sister Helen will be scheduled at a later date. Since Sister Helen had requested a green burial, she will be buried at the natural burial grounds for the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration at Villa St. Joseph. Coulee Cremation Group is assisting with the arrangements. Memorials may be sent to Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration, 912 Market St., La Crosse, Wis. 54601-4782.