Vol. XX, No.7
Helen Hull Hitchcock
by Father Joseph Fessio, SJ
The most tragic death is that of a child, especially a child in its mother’s womb. This is not because a new life has been suddenly taken away and we have lost an “immortal diamond.” Rather it is because what we have lost is an entire lifetime — from the first smile, the first baby steps, the first words uttered, through the first day in school, the first soccer game, dance, graduation, vacation trip, to career, vocation, family: all the trials and joys, the friendships and surprises of a long and full life. And all that has been snuffed out. It will never be.
But there is also a great sadness of loss at the death of someone, like Helen, who did have a long and full life. We don’t know what a newborn child will become. But we know what Helen became, who she was, what she did. And we know what her presence and activity meant to ever-widening concentric circles: family, friends, co-workers in the Lord; and then the readers of Voices and the Adoremus Bulletin. And then there are the people who never knew even that she existed but whose lives were touched — and blessed — by the effects in the Church of Helen’s work. I’m thinking especially of the liturgy.
Only God will be able to give the final accounting of how many priests were helped by Helen’s work to celebrate Mass more reverently and faithfully; how many bishops were affected by what she wrote and passed that on to their seminary rectors and seminarians; how many seminarians were helped in their liturgical and spiritual formation; how many lay faithful had their questions answered, their problems solved, their spirits uplifted.
And that is now lost to us who have been left behind. It is a loss for the earthly liturgy, though I am sure others who have been inspired by Helen will take up her bright torch. I’m also confident that Helen is now enjoying the heavenly, eternal liturgy — free of abuses! perhaps in Latin? certainly facing the Lamb on the Throne.
Helen died in the 20th year from the founding of Adoremus-Society for the Renewal of the Sacred Liturgy.
Without Helen, nothing would have happened. Arch-clericalists like Father Pokorsky and myself expect the laity to do all the work. Thank God that the generous and talented Helen Hull Hitchcock was also humble enough to take on the task.
Requiescat in pace — cum jubilo!