Mother Marie Helene (Helena) Franey was born July 29, 1898 in Galesburg, Illinois. She entered the Congregation of the Sisters of Providence in 1918 upon graduation from Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College. She received a Masters degree in Latin from Indiana University in 1929. From 1929 until her election as Secretary General in 1944 she taught at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College. After the death of Mother Mary Bernard Laughlin, Mother Marie Helene was elected ninth Superior General on March 25, 1949.
In 1950 Mother Marie Helene traveled to Portugal, Spain, Rome and France with Sister Francis Joseph Elbreg on a Holy Year Pilgrimage. This was the first visit of a Sister of Providence to Ruillé since 1922. Mother Marie Helene was one of six religious superiors on the Committee for Sisters appointed to plan for the First National Congress of the Religious of the United States, held at the University of Notre Dame from August 9 to 13, 1952. At this Congress she presented a paper entitled “The Spiritual Possibilities of Teaching as a Vocation.” In the summer of 1953 she was appointed by the Sacred Congregation of Religious in Rome as one of three Superiors General in the United States to serve on an International Commission of 40 Superiors General. Unfortunately her untimely death on November 23, 1953 prevented her from taking part.