Helen Hull Hitchcock, a prominent Catholic speaker, author, and advocate for the Church’s teachings on women and liturgy, died at the age of 75 on Monday, Oct. 20, after suffering from a short illness.
“She was someone who, in a quiet and unassuming way, had a profound impact on the life of the Church,” said Michael Warsaw, chairman of EWTN, where Hitchcock had served as a board member for more than a decade.
Born in Kansas Aug. 19, 1939, she attended the University of Kansas and received her graduate degree from the University of California at Berkeley. Although born an Episcopalian, she converted to the Catholic Church in 1984.
Hitchcock has contributed to various Catholic journals such as the National Catholic Register, Crisis Magazine, Touchstone, and the New Oxford Review. She has also authored a collection of essays, titled “The Politics of Prayer: Feminist Language and the Worship of God,” published by Ignatius Press.
Hitchcock was co-founder of Adoremus - Society for the Renewal of the Sacred Liturgy, where she also contributed as the editor of Adoremus Bulletin. She frequently lectured around the world, speaking mainly on the topics of women, families, and Catholic teachings within social issues.
She has served on various different boards, among them EWTN, Fellowship of Catholic Scholars, Women Affirming Life, and the Ecumenical Commission on Women in Society.
She was also the founding director of Women for Faith and Family, an organization that provides support for Catholic women and encourages fidelity to the Church.
“Helen Hull Hitchcock was a true Daughter of God,” said Catholic journalist and speaker Mary Jo Anderson, who also serves on the board of Women for Faith and Family.
In a statement on the group’s website, Anderson recalled Hitchcock’s devotion to prayer and her “fierce” love for the Church.
“It could never be business as usual in the Hitchcock household when the Church was maligned. Helen had a warrior’s heart and feared no battle to defend Holy Mother Church.
Helen Hitchcock inspired so many of us. She taught me the value of taking action, no matter how great the odds against victory — because the Victory is in God’s hands, not ours.”
Joanna Bogle, contributing editor for Voices, recalled Hitchcock’s patience and sense of humor.
“She spoke on controversial issues — the role of women in the Church, the debates on abortion and the sanctity of human life — with conviction and with knowledge, always teaching the full Catholic message and never with anger or with ill-will to those whose understanding was less than hers or who opposed the Church,” Bogle said.
“Helen leaves us with a vision of Christian women’s authentic role in the Church and in society: forward-looking, active, joyful in adherence to the Catholic Faith and the consistent and unchanging teachings of the Church, and keen to evangelize.”
Mother to four daughters and grandmother to six grandchildren, Helen Hitchcock is survived by her husband, James Hitchcock, who resides in St. Louis as an emeritus professor of history at St. Louis University.
Her funeral Mass will be said Oct. 27 at St. Roch Church in St. Louis.