SANTA MARIA, Calif. - Sister Susanne "Helen" Kantorowicz, 88, of Santa Maria, Calif., died Feb. 2, 2005, at Marian Residence in Santa Maria.
A vigil service was held Feb. 9 and a funeral Mass was held Feb. 10 at Santa Maria. Interment was in Santa Maria Cemetery. A memorial is planned at St. Mary's Catholic Church in Chester in July.
Susanne was born July 7, 1916, on a farm south of Chester to Stanislaw and Katherine Lopata Kantorowicz.
Susanne met the Sisters of St. Francis at Sacred Heart Hospital in Havre when she worked in the hospital kitchen. She learned more about her Catholic faith through classes offered to all workers at the hospital. She was impressed with the work the sisters, especially the help they gave the poor. She entered the community of Sisters of St. Francis at Stella Niagara, N.Y., in 1938. She made her profession of vows as a sister of St. Francis in 1939 in Monrovia, Calif.
She held many positions as a cook and baker in California, Washington and Montana, and was known for the bread, buns, doughnuts, pies and cookies she served the sisters, students and patients in the schools, convents and hospitals where she ministered.
Susanne's ministry was cut short when she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1954. During the early stages, she was able to do some light cooking and housework. In the 1960s, she transferred to Havre, where she lived at Sacred Heart Hospital and learned to make clown dolls, a pastime she enjoyed until the 1990s. She moved to Santa Maria in 1968 and supervised the gift shop at Marian Medical Center. In 1977, she moved to Marian Residence, where she used her electric wheelchair to visit the chapel, other sisters, and to take trips around the grounds. She made several trips to Montana to visit family and friends.
She was at Marian Hospice the last eight months of her life.
She was preceded in death by her parents; sisters, Agnes, Anna Manchak, Julia McIntyre and Sophie Lalum; brothers, Chester, John and her twin, Frank.
Survivors include her sisters, Catherine Wanken of Chester, Ruth Corbett of Kalispell, Mary Ennis of Sitka, Alaska, Josephine Bubnash of Billings and Bernice McCabe of Maskogee, Okla.; brothers, Carl (Loretta) Kantorowicz of Great Falls and Alfred (Jo) Kantorowicz of Tonasket, Wash.; sister-in-law, Mildred Kantorowicz of Chester; many nieces and nephews; and the members of the Sisters of St. Francis.