Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of February 16, 2004
Providence sister brought God to many
Special to the WCR
"I know she will always be there whenever we need her prayers."
- Emily Sewepagaham
Sister Celine was simply and thoroughly good. She knew how to be good to others and how to allow them the pleasure of being good to her. She loved and understood people in a simple, direct way.
Sister Celine spent almost her entire religious life among native people. She spent about 18 years in northern Alberta, working with Cree, Beaver and Dene people at Desmarais, Wabasca, Fort Vermilion, Sturgeon Lake, Joussard and Grouard, and a little over 45 years at Cluny with the Blackfoot people.
At a Jan. 28 funeral Mass in the chapel at Providence Centre, Emily Sewepagaham shared her memories of Sister Celine and read a note from her mother Clara Yellowknee. "Sister Celine was in Wabasca for many years helping the poor. She gave from the heart anything anyone needed, whether it was food or clothing. She was a very special lady, especially to my large family.
"In 1963, my youngest child became very sick. The nurses said he wouldn't survive. Sister Celine heard about it and she came by horse and wagon to see me at the hospital. My baby was air lifted to Edmonton. She told me we should pray. We prayed together. Then she told me that my baby would be coming back home.
"She was right. My baby came home and the doctors said it was a miracle. That was the first time I knew of her special devotion to Mother Gamelin (the foundress of the Sisters of Providence). I have seen many miracles through her prayers. . . . I know she will always be there whenever we need her prayers."
Christian KollerAt a second funeral Jan. 29 at Siksika Nation Holy Trinity Church in Cluny, Sister Celine's coffin was draped with a red blanket emblazoned with the coat of arms of the Siksika people. The red blanket had a special meaning to Sister Celine because of the dream that she had had as a young girl that Jesus had wrapped her in a red blanket, promising that he would always be with her.
All her life this dream was a support to her, and even on her deathbed she spoke of it as if she had dreamed it yesterday. Inside the coffin along with an eagle feather were several braids of sweetgrass that were brought for her. Sister often received calls from those she helped, asking her for advice, or to pray for them. She took great delight in hearing about their lives and sharing their stories with her community.
When Emily Sewepagaham heard that Sister Celine was sick, she and her family went to visit her. Sister Celine told them that she was ready for whatever God had planned for her and that she would always love them.
Two days before her death, Emily went to visit her for the last time. She recalled that last visit, "When she saw me, her face lit up and she reached her arms up, I bent down and hugged her. She held me tightly for a long time. When she finally let go, I showed her the medal of Mother Gamelin that she had given me. She took it in her hand and kissed it."
When Sister Celine was asked about her experiences through the years, she would tell some stories and then she would say, "Well, there would be much more to say, but it would all be similar."
Sister Celine was buried at the Providence Cemetery in Calgary.
Our mission: To serve our readers by bringing the Gospel to bear on current issues in the Church and in secular culture through accurate news coverage and reflective commentary.