Helmer Family Discusses Catholicism and Faith


Alexandra Farone

From left: Linda Helmer, Abbie Helmer, President Robert Helmer, and Clare Helmer

The Newman Student Organization, Baldwin Wallace University’s Catholic student group, invited President Bob Helmer to the Newman House on Friday, March 1, to share a meal and talk about how Catholicism has shaped his life. President Helmer was joined by his wife Linda and his daughters Clare, 13, and Abbie, 11.
The evening started with a pizza dinner provided by Newman and transitioned into a discussion and Q & A session with President Helmer about what the Catholic faith means to him. Helmer has a strong background in Catholicism, as he has had an entirely Catholic education except when he attended the University of Toledo to study law.
His wife was an 8th grade teacher in a Catholic middle school, and sharing her faith with her students was important to her. Both Clare and Abbie go to Catholic private school at St. Mary’s School in Berea.
“Faith today continues to be very important to me, and a large part of my faith is enjoying traditions. Traditions within the Catholic faith are the best part for me,” President Helmer said.
He also asserted the importance of Catholicism’s strong basis in scripture.
“History and scripture is what draws me into this faith,” President Helmer said.
“What makes faith real to me is the people of the Church,” Linda Helmer said. “I have a deep devotion to the saints and Mary. Mary is such a role model to all mothers.”
Helmer thought the transition from a Catholic college to a Methodist university was remarkably smooth. Many in the BW community were surprised when a member of the Catholic faith was hired as the next university president.
“I hadn’t realized how much having a Catholic president of Baldwin Wallace was a big change,” President Helmer said. “I didn’t understand how novel this was to people.”
Before coming to BW, President Helmer was the president of Lourdes University, a Franciscan Catholic University. He said that Lourdes was a very “values based” institution, even though only one-third of the student body was Catholic.
“I look forward to campus discussions on how the values of our Christian heritage as a Methodist university can help ground the experiences of our BW community,” President Helmer said. “As a university, I’d love to see us think about our Methodist values, our Christian values that I think could be helpful as a ‘centering’ in times of conflict.”
Even though BW’s founding faith is different than his own, he feels that the Baldwin Wallace community is one full of welcoming and kind people, and he feels that his faith has not been compromised by this difference in religion.
“I’ve really been impressed with Baldwin Wallace. I think there is an underlying and fundamental care for each other among students, faculty, and staff,” President Helmer said.