“I Wanted So Much to be a Sister”
For almost 60 years, Sister M. Celine Martinez of the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus has lived her vocation as a Franciscan Sister out of a desire to do everything for love and the greater glory of God.
Born Maria Ofelia Martinez, she endured many trials as a young teenage girl with the death of her mother and with many health issues. At the age of 13, she met the Victory Knoll Sisters who taught her stories from the Bible. “I thought the Sisters were so beautiful! I admired them and wished I could be a Sister and tell Bible stories about Jesus to someone else,” said Sr. Celine.
Over the following years, there was a young man in her life and even plans of marriage. Ofelia studied to be a beautician, and the religious life seemed to be beyond her reach. The death of her brother in 1955 brought her deep sorrow and a yearning for a deeper and more personal relationship with the Lord. During this time of suffering, Sr. Celine began to earnestly read the Bible and to teach religion classes at St. Anthony’s in Brownfield, Texas. She also spent time traveling to/from Lubbock to offer transportation to a Victory Knoll Sister who taught religious education in Brownfield.
In 1958, Sr. Celine went on her first “Nun Run.” She visited the Incarnate Word Order in San Angelo and a Carmelite cloister in Dallas. However, it was Father Henry Laub, a Pallotine priest in Lubbock, who petitioned her to stay in the area saying that Sisters were greatly needed. It was Father Laub who contacted Mother Feliciana Schreiber, who was then Regional Superior of the School Sisters of St. Francis in Panhandle. He spoke of the young woman who so earnestly wanted to be a Sister. Mother Feliciana wrote to Sr. Celine and invited her to visit their community. “I was so happy,” said Sr. Celine. “I wanted so much to be a Sister. Not a teacher! Not a nurse! First and foremost a Sister.”
On December 9, 1958, Sr. Celine traveled to Sancta Maria Convent and became a candidate in her new convent. One year later, Ofelia received her religious name and the habit of a novice. The new Sr. Mary Celine made her first vows in 1961. Over the years, Sr. Celine wore a sundry of hats as a consecrated religious. She worked in and served as administrator of the Bernard Gordon Children’s Home (adjacent to the convent), served as House Superior of the regionalhouse, and was assistant administrator and spiritual advisor at St. Ann’s Nursing Home. She served as Novice Mistress for a term. Sr. Celine has never shied away from work. “I love my community and doing all I can for my Sisters,” she stated.
Would she do it all again? With a look of joy, Sr. Celine noted, “Yes, dear Lord. Let it be possible for me to be a Sister wherever it may be. Let me be a Sister consecrated to you. I know you are always with me.”
In Sr. Celine’s prayer life, after the Holy Mass and the community prayers, special devotions to the Rosary and the Divine Mercy Chaplet are evident. Some of her favorite scriptures include:
- "With man, it is impossible. With God, all things are possible." Matthew 19:26
- "Behold, I am with you always." Matthew 28:20
- "Come to me all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest." Matthew 11:28
Sister Celine will soon celebrate her Diamond Jubilee. We congratulate her for the years of loving service in the Vineyard of the Lord!