sister michael helene purfield csj

November 20, 1924 - February 25, 2018

Hardworking, generous, dedicated to ministering
On November 20, 1924, Marian Frances was born to Col. Emmett and Helen (Carson) Purfield of Colorado Springs, Colorado, the third of five children. The children attended Cheyenne School from kindergarten through high school—all in the same building. When Marian graduated from high school, she started nursing school but then decided to enter religious life. Her cousin, Sister Mary Paul Purfield, was a Sister of St. Joseph. Though Marian said she did not know her very well, they did sometimes travel home together for visits, later on. Marian entered the Sisters of St. Joseph on February 11, 1944, receiving the habit and the name Sister Michael Helene on August 15, 1944. Her bachelor’s degree in nursing was from St. Louis University (1958).
Sister Teresa Maria Eagan who entered with Sister Helene says, "She must have been a good novice as I have no stories about her. I know she was a good worker and devoted to her brother [Father James] with whom she worked for many years.” 
Sister Michael Helene’s first ministry was teaching intermediate classes at St. Patrick School in University City, Missouri (1946). Next, she was a nursing student, earning her RN through St. Teresa’s College while training at St. Joseph Hospital in Kansas City (1947). She became the obstetrics nursing supervisor at St. Joseph Community Hospital in Hancock, Michigan (1951), then held the same position at St. Joseph Hospital in Kirkwood, Missouri (1954). In 1957, she was at St. Louis University working to complete a bachelor’s degree in nursing. Sister Michael Helene returned to St. Joseph Hospital in Kirkwood as an obstetrics nursing supervisor (1958).
She left St. Joseph Hospital to study anesthesiology at Charity Hospital in New Orleans, Louisiana (1964), receiving her certification from Tulane University. Two years later, she went to St. Joseph Hospital in Kansas City, where she served as a nursing supervisor.
Associate Betty Langley’s memory goes back to Kansas City when she was a student nurse:
Sister was always a hard worker. She was always willing to share her extensive knowledge with me. As an associate, Sister has been my prayer partner. I would always visit Sister when I was in St. Louis and she was so happy to see me. We would reminisce about the good old days in the community. She would always ask about my sister. What a memory!
Sister Michael Helene recalled a time in the 1960s, when there was rioting going on outside the hospital: 
The police came in and they said that there was somebody shooting at the hospital and they wanted to know if they could go up to the roof so they could get a better view. So I said, ‘Well I guess I can take you up there.’ So I took them up and, when we got to the door, they told me to go first. They thought that if they saw the policeman they would start shooting, but if they saw me they may not start shooting.
In 1969, Sister Michael Helene relocated to Dayton, Ohio, and ministered as a nurse anesthetist at the Anesthesia Association of Dayton. In 1982, she returned to her hometown of Colorado Springs to care for family. Then, in 1995, she transitioned into pastoral ministry, serving at St. Paul’s Parish in Colorado Springs, Colorado, as a pastoral minister (1995-2005) and as the coordinator for homebound ministry (2005-2013). She retired in 2013, though continuing a volunteer ministry. Sister Michael Helene moved to Nazareth Living Center in 2014, carrying out her ministry through prayer and presence. 
Sister Helen Oates
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