Providence sister had a short, intense life

Sr. Celerina Estacio

Sr. Celerina Estacio

June 23, 2014

Both in her name and in the way she lived, Sister Celerina Estacio was "The Quick One."

The name Celerina means quick, and that is exactly the way the Sister of Providence lived in her short but passionate life.

She was 58 when she died June 3, after a brave battle with cancer, at Providence Centre Infirmary in Edmonton.

"She lived intensely, and I think that's why her life was shorter," said Sister Margaret McGovern, who served as Estacio's mentor when she was a novice.

Estacio was born in Calungusan, Orion Bataan, Philippines in September 1955. She entered the Sisters of Providence in 1986, serving the people of Western Canada. She soon became qualified as a social worker, particularly successful with teenage clients whom she understood well.

Estacio returned to the Philippines in 2001, and served there for 10 years in the formation program for new members.

"She was focused in her work with the poor and those who needed help. She helped them set goals and stay focused," said McGovern.

Estacio also organized a clinic for the poor since in the Philippines, there are few hospitals that people can afford.

When McGovern visited the country, she visited a hospital ward that was horrifying. Not only did the beds have no pillows and blankets, there were no mattresses either. Patients were lying on the bare bedsprings.

Sister Celerina got together with other sisters there, with their friends in the medical community, and with benefactors who were willing to give some money to get it started. They started a clinic called Clinica de San Jose for the poor in the area.


Because of her leadership qualities, she was named the superior there.

While taking courses in Rome, Estacio was diagnosed with cancer in 2010. She was convalescing in Manila, but complained the air was polluted, and asked to return to the fresh air of Alberta.

"She had a deep spirit of prayer, and prayer brought joy and strength to her life, especially in her struggles with cancer," said McGovern.

Returning to Alberta in 2011, she was again ambitious and spent two years as a transition worker at Wings of Providence Crisis Centre, which provides housing for women and children who have experienced family violence. When women left Wings, Estacio was their follow-up contact if they needed help or someone to talk to.

When the cancer returned in 2013, she had to quit her work with Wings.


"She really fought. Her spirit was ready to go, but her body didn't want to die. In her last days, she fought to see her friends and family, and she was fortunate that some friends and family came to see her before her death," said McGovern.

Both McGovern and Estacio had a shared interest in art. Often they would visit local art galleries together or go to a bazaar and peruse the artwork.

Evening Prayer was held at Providence Centre on June 9. Her funeral was held at the Providence Centre Chapel on June 10, with Oblate Father James Holland as the celebrant.