Women In Our History

Sister Andrew Matousek

- by Catherine Podvin, OP

The Matousek family was well known in Cleveland, Ohio. They helped found the parish of St. John Nepomucene, and they were fine musicians. One of their sons, Frank, was the organist at St. John for years. When the parish school opened in 1903, staffed by the Adrian Dominican Sisters, he taught one of the grades.

Helen Matousek was Frank's younger sister. They were the children of Anna (Pachler) and Peter Matousek. Helen was welcomed into the family on April 22, 1890. Our records do not show where she began her elementary education. She was 13 years old in 1903, and probably attended eighth grade at St. John. At any rate, the Dominican Sisters were visible in the parish, and she admired them. Their white habit and cheerful lifestyle attracted her; and, although her health did not appear to be strong, she was determined to become one of them.

In fall 1909, at the age of 19, she requested entrance into the Congregation. The matter of her health was brought up and questioned; but, after much consideration, Mother Camilla Madden accepted her. Following her entrance Helen taught for a few months at St. John School in Earl Park, Indiana, then returned to Adrian at Christmastime where she received the habit on December 29, 1909. She was then assigned to St. Joseph in Marblehead, Ohio.

Within a few months she became ill with tuberculosis. She was brought back to Adrian, and Sister Clementine Klein nursed her in the white house that served as an infirmary. It was a house that had originally been in St. Joseph Parish, where children who lived at a distance boarded while preparing for first Communion, and had been moved to the Dominican campus in 1906. Because of the contagious nature of Sister Andrew's disease, she was secluded in the white cottage. Her friends in the novitiate, however, were allowed to visit with her through one of the windows.

Mother Camilla suffered from asthma and bronchitis. She had visited the Southwest, and had come to believe that the climate in that area would be beneficial for those suffering from lung and sinus disorders. But she realized that Sister Andrew was too young and weak to travel to Arizona. Her parents wanted to take her back to their Cleveland home for care, and Mother gave her permission.

Once Sister Andrew was in her parents' home, the sisters from St. John and the other schools in Cleveland visited her often. Father Hroch, the pastor of St. John, was faithful also. The day before Sister Andrew's death, he was present when she professed her vows to the superior of the sisters at St. John. She died on May 5, 1910, two weeks after her 20th birthday.