Sister Helene Marie Gregos, SND; August 11, 1933- July 2, 2022 (Formerly Sister Mary Therese Martin)
Helene Gregos was born in Cleveland, Ohio on August 11, 1933, the only child of John and Anna Custer Gregos. She attended elementary school at Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and attended Notre Dame Academy, Cleveland, for her high school education. After graduation, she entered nursing school at St. John Hospital. Classes at St. John College kept her connected to many Sisters of Notre Dame, and after a year, Helene was convinced of God’s call to religious life. Helene became a postulant on September 8, 1952. At investment she received the name Sister Mary Therese Martin.
During her first 6 years of teaching in parish elementary schools in Cleveland and Massillon, Sister Helene Marie earned a bachelor’s degree in education from St. John College, Cleveland. In 1961 she was assigned to Julie Billiart School in Lyndhurst, which focused on students with special learning needs. It was the start of 58 years of ministry “centered on students who learn differently from the way most educators teach,” as she aptly phrased it in a presentation at the Notre Dame International Education Conference in Brazil in 2007. To be effective in this new work, Sister Helene Marie studied at Cardinal Stritch College in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The Master of Arts program in special education featured demonstration lessons from professors teaching at a nearby school. At Julie Billiart School, the faculty worked hard to help each student succeed. They found resources for parents, and opened doors to extracurricular activities and programs. They advocated for social reform, supporting equal opportunities for all learners. Sister Helene Marie respected the dedicated “wisdom women” who were her mentors.
In 1972, Sister Helene Marie was assigned to Notre Dame College, South Euclid, Ohio, as Coordinator of Special Education. She was honored as Ohio Special Educator of the Year in 1978, and completed the doctoral program at the University of Cincinnati in 1979. For thirty years she developed new programs, training and supervising special education teachers at the graduate and undergraduate levels. She gave talks and workshops, published articles, served on boards and committees, and consulted with national groups. “These years taught me how God works wonders through someone who seems very inadequate,” she wrote.
During this time, she served for 6 years as curriculum director at Julie Billiart School. In 1999, upon her retirement from the College, she applied for a position at Notre Dame Skills Lab, eager to be with the children that she so loved. The cover letter that accompanied her extensive resumé was generous and humble. “My skills span from classroom teaching, assessment, teacher preparation and administrative responsibilities to computer technology projects,” she said. “I believe that I can benefit your ministry to children.” She was also a volunteer tutor at Metro Catholic School and a teacher mentor for the Diocese of Cleveland.
In 2019, Sister Helene Marie became a resident of the Health Care Center in Chardon. She will be remembered as a wisdom woman by all who were blessed by her life and ministry.
The Mass of Christian Burial for Sister will be celebrated at 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday, July 12. A Welcoming Home Prayer Service will be at 1:30 followed by visitation from 2:00-4:15. Both will be live-streamed. Go to www.sndusa.org. Click on the Chardon Regional Center.