In Memory

Sister Celine Marie Smith, IHM

February 22, 1940 – December 20, 2008

Celine Smith, IHM

Sister Celine Marie Smith, IHM, of the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary died on Saturday, December 20, 2008, at Geisinger Medical Center in Danville, PA.

She was born on February 22, 1940 in Waterbury, CT, and given the name Judith Ann. She was the daughter of the late George and Henrietta Nau Smith. She entered the IHM Congregation on September 8, 1957, made her temporary profession of vows on March 14, 1960, and final profession of her vows on March 14, 1965.

Sister Celine Marie was a Montessori, Pre-K and primary education teacher and served at the following schools: St. Ephrem Elementary School in Brooklyn, NY from 1960 to 1966; St. Peter of Alcantara Elementary School in Port Washington, NY from 1966 to 1974; St. Mary of Mount Carmel Elementary School in Dunmore, PA, from 1974 to 1979; St. Cecilia Elementary School in Exeter, PA, from 1979 to 1984; Our Lady of Mercy Elementary School in Forest Hills, NY from 1984 to 1986; Our Lady of Grace Montessori School in Manhasset, NY from 1986 to 1990; St. Mary Elementary School in East Islip, NY from 1990 to1993; St. Paul Education Center in New Bern, NC from 1993 to 1995.

Sister Celine Marie also served as a chaplain at Williamsport General Hospital from 1996 to 1998 and at Manor Care Health Services, both located in Williamsport, PA, from 1999 to 2004. She served, most recently, as activities director at the Presbyterian Home in Williamsport, PA, and as a Catholic chaplain at the Muncy State Prison for Women in Muncy, PA. She volunteered for Habitat for Humanity, and was active in interfaith groups in Lycoming County. Sister Celine was an active member of Annunciation Parish in Williamsport, PA, where she served on the Social Justice Committee and ministered as a lector.

She received a Bachelor of Science in elementary education, and a Master of Science in reading education, both from Marywood College.

She is survived by three sisters, Teresa Grieco of Muncy, PA; Diane Smith of New Windsor, NY; Maureen Smith of Winchester, VA; and nieces.

A viewing will take place on Monday, December 22 at Annunciation Church, 410 Walnut Street, Williamsport, from 3:00 to 6:30 p.m. with a prayer service at 5:30 p.m. A second viewing will be held at the IHM Center, 2300 Adams Avenue, Scranton, on Tuesday, December 23 from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. with Mass of Christian Burial immediately following at 4:00 p.m. Father John Manno will be the celebrant. Interment will be Wednesday at St. Catherine’s Cemetery in Moscow.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to support the retired IHM Sisters c/o the IHM Sisters Retirement Fund, IHM Center, 2300 Adams Avenue, Scranton, PA 18509.

Reprinted from “In Memoriam” section of Journey, Winter 2009 issue

In her book, I Will Not Die an Unlived Life: Reclaiming Purpose and Passion, Dawna Markova writes: “It’s not so much about being prepared for death as it is about being full of life. I want to be so well practiced in crossing thresholds that dying is merely another step in the dance.” Celine Marie embraced the fullness of life through her family and friends, her ministries, her deep and abiding commitment to issues of justice, and her passion for dance.

Sister Celine crossed many thresholds in her lifetime. She began as an outstanding early childhood teacher, always interested in new and creative ways to help children learn and love school. This led her to pursue a master’s degree in reading education as well as certification in Montessori education.

Always open to God’s presence in her life, Celine returned to her hometown of Williamsport, PA, in the mid-1990s to cross a new threshold into pastoral ministry and to help care for her mother. She served as chaplain at Williamsport General Hospital and Manor Care Health Services and, most recently, as the activities director at the Presbyterian Home and Catholic chaplain at the Muncy State Prison for Women.

As a child, Celine desperately wanted to take dance lessons. Her mother said there was no future in it. In recent years, Celine pursued her childhood dream and took dance lessons. Her mother eventually did approve! Celine combined her love of dance with her prayer and often performed liturgical movement at prayer services.

Celine had an intolerance for injustice and worked tirelessly to serve the needs of the poor and oppressed. She was instrumental in resurrecting the Social Justice Committee at Annunciation Parish in Williamsport and was an active volunteer for Habitat for Humanity.

Celine loved to gather family, friends, co-workers – even strangers – and share life. Although her final threshold was tragic and untimely, it was “merely another step in the dance!” Celine would say to us who loved her: “When you get the chance to sit it out or dance. . . I hope you dance!” And we reply, “May you dance forever, dear friend, in the arms of our loving God!”

by Sr. Amy Zychal, IHM

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