Helene Bammer Bernhardt
History in isolation.
In the Austro-Hungarian Empire, it was often required by local tradition to receive Catholic confirmation, regardless of religion. When Helene, a baptised member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, attended the preparation classes for her confirmation, the Catholic priest was very impressed with her knowledge of religion. When she gave a prayer at the conclusion of their meeting, his eyes filled with tears, “My dear child, I must admit, you are the first among my pupils to be confirmed who really knows how to pray.” When she confided her actual religion and faith to the priest, Helene remembered his disposition toward her changed dramatically: “Since that time, benevolence on the minister’s part toward me was gone.”
After the outbreak of World War I, official delegates of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints left the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Helene was a member of a small congregation in Brassó, Hungary. A convert to the Church in her youth, she took it upon herself to lead and keep a record during their period of isolation. “Long and dreary years now began for us all - isolated, no connection with the Church whatsoever, only dependent on ourselves. But this time went by. The Lord was with us and did not leave us.”
After the war, Brassó, Hungary became Brașov, Romania due to the fall of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Helene and the other Latter-day Saint awaited the return of Church leaders. When they returned in 1926, Helene wrote, “Can you realize what it means to be able to partake of the Sacrament and enjoy the spirit of a meeting after such a long time of twelve years?”
While not much is known about Helene Bammer Bernhardt, it was remarked by one visitor to their church meetings that she was holding together “a group of the best women he had ever met”. Her story is one of faith, strength and the powerful influence of women.
Research: Sarah Smart
Writing: Sarah Smart
Editing: Amy Epps & Louise Paulsen
Bernhard, Helene. “History of the Saints in Roumania”, Church Archives.
“Czechoslovak Mission Historical Report”, December 20, 1934.
"The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Church Census Records (Worldwide), 1914-1960", database, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:84WX-MLT2), Helene Baumer Bernhardt, 1950.
Mehr, Kahlile. Mormon Missionaries Enter Eastern Europe. Salt Lake City, 2002.
—.“On the Eastern Edge: LDS Missionary Work in Hungarian Lands”. Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, No. 2, Vol. 24: pp. 27-45., 1991.