Sr. Mary Celine's Vocation story

“I Wanted So Much to be a Sister”

This summer, Sr. M. Celine Martinez of the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus will celebrate her golden jubilee with the School Sisters of St. Francis in Panhandle, Texas. For more than 50 years, her vocation as a Franciscan Sister has been 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 as well as 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 join their community. “I was so happy,” said Sr. Celine. “I wanted so much to be a Sister. Not a teacher!  Not a nurse!  Only 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 next 50 years, Sr. Celine wore a sundry of hats as a consecrated religious. She worked in and served as administrator at the Bernard Gordon Children’s Home (adjacent to the convent), served as house superior at the regionalhouse, and was assistant administrator and spiritual advisor at St. Ann’s Nursing Home, and 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.”

Sr. Celine’s wish for her golden jubilee? She would like one day to make a pilgrimage to Medjugorje for a few weeks to experience all it has to offer.

In Sr. Celine’s prayer life, besides Holy Mass and the required prayers, she has a special devotion to the Rosary. Some of her favorite scriptures include:

  • "With man, it is impossible.  With God, all things are possible."
  • "Behold, I am with you always."
  • "Come to me all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest."

Congratulations to Sr. Mary Celine for 50 beautiful years of service in the Vineyard of the Lord!