Alumni - complete the online survey here




Sr Helen Delaney RSM

inducted 2017 Academia

About Sr Helen Delaney RSM

Sister Helen M Delaney RSM CTE, BA, M Ed Admin, MCL, DCL (SPU), PhD (Ottawa), FACE
Helen is the eldest of seven children of Leo and Betty Delaney and grew up on a dairy farm off the Mortlake-Ellerslie road. Helen describes her childhood as being secure and happy. Her mother was a teacher and both parents valued education and ensured that each of their children received a good Catholic education.

Her primary education was undertaken at the one teacher Woolongoon State School where her mother had been the first permanent teacher. The nearest secondary school was in Terang so Helen went to board at St Ann’s College, Warrnambool. She recalls feeling very homesick and was delighted when some fifteen months later she was told she would be going to the newly opened St Colman’s School in Mortlake which was being staffed by Sisters of Mercy. After completing Year 9, then known as Proficiency, she returned to St Ann’s for a further four years. She was very happy there and completed Year 12 (Matriculation).

Apart from the Physical Education and Art of Speech teachers, all her other teachers were Sisters of Mercy, the most influential being Sr M Sylvia Thelfall, Sr M Philomene Carroll and Sr M Bonaventure McAllen. They were good teachers, related well to the girls and taught several subjects each. Their example was a wonderful influence and inspired her to consider becoming a Sister of Mercy.

Helen went to the Mercy Noviciate in Melbourne in 1957 and after her profession trained as a primary teacher at Mercy Teachers’ College in Ascot Vale. She then spent two years teaching Grade 5 at St Patrick’s School, West Geelong and one year teaching Grade 4 at Sacred Heart School, Mildura. Although she was very happy teaching at primary level, she was then sent to the University of Melbourne to undertake a Bachelor of Arts degree
Upon completion of her degree, Helen was appointed to St Aloysius College North Melbourne, where she taught biology, history, geography, religious education and social studies at senior level. She was here for fourteen years, the last ten as principal. During that time, she completed a Master in Education Administration via a distance education programme from the University of New England. She continued in the role of Principal at Sacred Heart College, Shepparton, for three years and when the College amalgamated with the Marist Brothers St Colman’s College, to form Notre Dame College she moved on to become the principal of Our Lady of Mercy College for three years.

Her next appointment was to undertake doctoral studies in order to become a member of the staff of Mercy Teachers’ College which was at that time transitioning to become part of Australian Catholic University. Knowledgeable friends recommended that she pursue a doctorate in Canon Law. On the commencement of her studies, she had no real knowledge of Canon Law. However, she considered it to be one of the best decisions she ever made. Helen became the first Australian women to receive a doctorate in Canon Law, living and studying very happily in Ottawa for 5 years among a very multicultural group of students. Helen was also awarded a second doctorate from the University of Ottawa.

On her return to Australia, she spent a relatively short time as the Campus Co-ordinator of the Mercy Campus of Australian Catholic University before in 1993 she was elected the Congregation Leader of the Melbourne Sisters of Mercy for a period of six years. Her role involved the pastoral responsibility for some four hundred Sisters of Mercy located mainly in Victoria and Tasmania as well as the overall responsibility for the congregation’s institutional ministries in health, education and social welfare. It was during this time that general governance structures were developed – Mercy Health which now has responsibility for public hospitals in Heidelberg and Werribee and aged care and other facilities in Queensland, New South Wales, Western Australia and Victoria; Mercy Education which governs several secondary schools in Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia, and to which Emmanuel College is connected; and in conjunction with the Sisters of St Joseph and the Christian Brothers, MacKillop Family Services.

When she finished her term of office Helen lectured in Canon Law at Yarra Theological Union in Box Hill for several years and became a member of the Tribunal of the Catholic Church of Victoria and Tasmania where at one time she was the Director of the Ballarat office. She now a member of the Department of Church History and the Department of Moral Theology and Canon Law at Catholic Theological College, East Melbourne.
Over the years, Helen has also served on committees and working parties for the Sisters of Mercy and several boards such as the Stewardship Board of Catholic Health Australia (2 years as Chair), and the boards of Mercy Health and Mercy Secondary Education. Currently she is a member of the Archbishop’s Catholic Education Office Audit Committee.

Helen’s message to our current students is to stay strong and focused. “Young people today have it tough and it’s easy to go off the rails. Having Year 12 has never hurt anybody!”

View Sr Helen's biography below:

Sr Helen Delaney RSM

Class of 1955