Sister Helen Jilek, OSB, grew up in Haugen, Wisconsin, the middle of John and Marie Jilek’s seven children -- four boys and three girls. The Jileks worked a dairy farm and as the children grew older, John Jilek worked additionally for a local potato grower.
At Holy Trinity, a three-room grade school, Sister Helen was taught by the Benedictines. Their parish pastor, too, was a Benedictine from the Abbey in Lisle. Sister Helen came as a senior to Sacred Heart Academy. She had by then decided to join the community and looked forward to the opportunity to teach. She joined in September of 1960.
Sister Helen started her teaching career in elementary education in the Joliet and Woodridge communities. She was several years into this when her Prioress asked her to seek a degree in Physical Education at DePaul. Benet Academy had the need for a new girls’ Phys Ed teacher and Sister Helen started there in 1967 and completed her degree in 1968. By 1970, she was also teaching Physical Education at St. Joan of Arc in Lisle.
In 1972 and through 1979, Sister took on the new role of Dispatcher on the late shift for the Lisle Police Department, a job she enjoyed. She moved on to a Central Dispatch role on the 4pm–midnight shift and enjoyed the fast pace and high level of activity during that time of the day.
In 1979, St. Joan of Arc hired Sister Helen as Youth Minister and she worked there until 1984. She then moved into Emergency Services work for Catholic Charities in Lombard and stayed there until 1989. In ’89, she became Coordinator for the DuPage PADS (Public Action to Deliver Shelter) program and enjoyed that work for almost ten years. Then in ’97, the Prioress invited Sister Helen to take on the role of Treasurer for the community. She thoroughly enjoyed her accounting classes in preparation for this role and this is the ministry Sister Helen still performs today.
In community, Sister Helen sits on many, many committees: Hospitality, Stewardship, Finance, Development, Villa St. Benedict Board, Investment Trustee Board and is a member of the Monastic Council. Outside of the monastery, she enjoys her role as Treasurer for Daybreak of Lisle, a transitional housing program that operates five housing units. She also sits on the Board of Hear US, Inc., an organization whose mission is to raise awareness of the pervasiveness of homelessness in our country, especially its impact on children.
Sister Helen, who has spent many hours in recent years participating in construction planning and meetings, looks forward to the completion of the renovation work on the monastery. At that time, she anticipates a revitalization of the community and welcomes the opportunity to become involved with all the new residents at Villa St. Benedict. Sister Helen acknowledges all of the friends of the Benedictine Sisters. She says, “We appreciate your friendship and assistance. We are grateful for your continued care and concern”.