Helen Appelberg


The 2012 Charles J. Cook Award in Servant Leadership

Helen Appelberg

Priest, joyful caregiver, visionary, tireless pastor, you have embodied the qualities of a servant leader.

Your life has been like a river; when it encounters obstacles it finds a way to continue flowing around them. One of the pioneer women priests in the Episcopal Diocese of Texas, you proved to doubters that age is not an impediment to effective and vigorous service beginning your ordained ministry at age 59.

While serving in the chaplain's office at St. Luke's Hospital in Houston, you responded to the desire by laypersons to minister to the sick by creating Community of Hope, which gained such a reputation for quality pastoral care that it was adopted by your diocese. 

Through your leadership, you helped thousands realize their vocation.  Community of Hope found receptive audiences throughout the Episcopal Church and beyond, and it eventually became international in scope. You served many years as the shepherd for this ministry and continue to give it your attention as the president of the board of directors.

Your impact on others has occurred not only by what you have done, but by who you are.  Many have been inspired by your deep faith.  One friend noted that you are at peace with who you are and what you do.  You greatly contributed to the faith of many in the Diocese of Texas by championing and embodying a Benedictine spirituality.  You encouraged others to adopt of rule of life that would feed their soul as you practiced your rhythm of prayer.

When others might enjoy their retirement by adopting a relaxed posture, you have continued to share your energy and devotion through a variety of ministries.  You have been a visiting scholar in the Sealy Center on Aging at the University of Texas Medical Branch, and you continue there as a Fellow and director of the Center for Spirituality of Aging.  You have served two Galveston parishes, you continue to lead workshops on aging and spirituality and on the Community of Hope, and you have served as a chaplain and faculty member at the Iona School of Ministry of the Diocese of Texas.

Boundless optimism, tenacity, obedience, and dedication characterize your ministry, which serves as a model for the Christian life.  Because of your faithfulness to God in your leadership, Seminary of the Southwest is honored to present you with the Charles J. Cook Award for Servant Leadership.


Douglas Travis                                                                                 Nathan Jennings

Dean and President                                                                         Faculty Secretary