Helena Stollenwerk was born on November 28, 1852, to Hans Peter Stollenwerk and his third wife Anna Bongard She had one sister, Caroline. Her Father died with she was just seven years old. Her mother remarried the following year to a man with three daughters from a previous marriage. The youngest daughter became a very close friend to Helena.
As a child, she dreamed of going on mission trips to China. She tried to find a convent that sent missionaries around the world, but she was not able to find one.
In 1882 she met Arnold Janssen, who was in the Netherlands at the time. He encouraged her idea of beginning a new religious group for women. For a time she served at Janssen’s St. Michael the Archangel Mission House. In 1884, she was joined by Hendrina Stenmanns.
On December 8, 1889, Stollenwerk became of postulant of a women’s congregation began by Janssen, the Missionary Sisters Servants of the Holy Spirit. She made her vows on March 12, 1894. She became abbess of the congregation on August 12, 1898.
Stollenwerk helped prepare sisters that went out on missions around the world. She sent the first missionaries to Argentina in 1895. She other missionaries to Togo in 1897. Janssen’s asked her to resign from being Superior General. She had been in that position for 8 years.
In the fall of 1899, she was diagnosed with meningitis. She died in 1900. Her final words were “Jesus: I die for You.”
Her cause for sainthood became in 1950 in Roermond, the collection of documents and interviews about her life. The miracle required for her beatification occurred in 1962. Her writings received approval in 1983 from the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. On April 2, 1982, Stollenwerk was titled a Servant of God. Pope John Paul I confirmed her life of heroic virtue and name Stollenwerk as being Venerable on 14 May 14, 1991. The miracle from 1962 was investigated and was approved as a medical miracle on November 26, 1993. Pope John Paul II approved the miracle as well and on May 7, 1995, beatified Stollenwerk. The current postulator for this cause is Sister Ortrud Stegmaier.