Warkentin, Helen L. (1887-1975)

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Helen L. Warkentin: missionary teacher in India; born 25 November 1887 in Hoffnungsfeld, Manitoba, Canada, to Johann Warkentin and Sarah (Loewen) Warkentin. She was one of ten children in the family. Helen was baptized on 17 July 1904 at the Winkler Mennonite Brethren Church in Winkler, Manitoba. Helen died on 25 July 1975 in Winkler, Manitoba at the age of 87.

After completing her elementary school in Winkler, Helen attended school in Gretna and completed Grade 11 before going on to attend Normal School in Manitou to become a teacher. Over the next years, she taught in Winkler, Haskett, Edental, and Meath before returning to her studies in 1918 for a year at the Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. In December 1919, she was ordained as a missionary at her church. In June 1920, she left for San Francisco, California, USA to prepare for her first term of teaching at the Mennonite Brethren boarding school in Deverakonda, India.

In addition to teaching at the school, Helen worked as principal for some time. She was also the school’s dietitian and oversaw work in the vegetable garden, as well as supervising the digging of wells, construction projects, and other tasks. Caring for orphans was one of her special concerns, and she spent a great deal of time working with them. When her first term in India ended in October 1927, she returned to Canada, where she stayed for almost two years before returning to India in June 1929, shortly before her mother’s death. Helen became extremely ill with typhus soon afterward but eventually recovered and continued on with her work.

Helen completed her second term at the school and went back to Canada in April 1937 before returning to India in November 1938 for her third term. When the Second World War broke out, many missionaries left India, but Helen stayed to the end of her term in February 1948. She managed to return home to visit her sick father and to attend his funeral in May 1948. In March 1950, Helen left Canada for her fourth and last term, staying until 1957, when she retired at the age of 69.

Following her retirement, Warkentin left India and returned to Winkler, where she moved in with her younger sister. One of her interests was the Winkler Bible Institute, and another was writing to the people she had come to know in India. She continued to write extensively until she became ill in June 1975 and entered the nursing home in Winkler, where she died on 25 July 1975 at the age of 87. The funeral took place on 28 July at the Winkler Mennonite Brethren Church.

Helen L. Warkentin was a dedicated missionary whose work in India had a lasting effect on the people she encountered both in Deverakonda and back at home in Canada. Through her teaching and other work at the school in India, she gave everyone around her an example of commitment and faithfulness for future generations to follow.


Canadian Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches. "Warkentin, Helen Loewen (1887-1975)." http://www.mbconf.ca/home/products_and_services/resources/published_genealogies/personal_papers/warkentin_helen_loewen/.

The Mennonite Brethren Herald (3 October 1975): 30.

Die Mennonitische Rundschau (10 September 1975): 11.

Author(s) Susan Huebert
Date Published April 2010

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MLA style

Huebert, Susan. "Warkentin, Helen L. (1887-1975)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. April 2010. Web. 20 Jul 2024. https://gameo.org/index.php?title=Warkentin,_Helen_L._(1887-1975)&oldid=134132.

APA style

Huebert, Susan. (April 2010). Warkentin, Helen L. (1887-1975). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 20 July 2024, from https://gameo.org/index.php?title=Warkentin,_Helen_L._(1887-1975)&oldid=134132.

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