Sister Celine Corrigan
1927 - 2016
Born: 21st May 1927
Entered Religious Life: 8th October 1945
Died: 17th March 2016
Address given by Sr Rita Dawson, Provincial Leader, at the funeral of Sr Celine in Hackney
Sr Celine was born in Dublin. Celine and her twin sister Clare, were the youngest children of Margaret and John James Corrigan. Celine had two older sisters, Maureen and Pauline, who have died she did not have any brothers.
Celine’s father and uncles owned a very successful grocery businesses in Rathmines and Harold’s Cross. Her uncle (Andrew Corrigan) supplied groceries to Milltown, Donnybrook and the Hospice convents for many years.
The four girls attended the Louis Convent Rathmines and later transferred to Carrickmacross as boarders. Celine was educated by the Sisters of St Louis. She had intended to enter with the Sisters of St Louis but did not wish to teach. She decided to become a Sister of Charity knowing we had a variety of other works which other Congregations did not have at this time. Celine was trying hard to avoid teaching!!
After completing her education at Carrickmacross, Nancy Corrigan entered Milltown in October 1945 and took the name Celine at her Reception. She really wanted Therese but Mother Mary Bernard said it was not available and helped her to settle with ‘Celine’ instead! Her mother died while Celine was in the Noviceship. In the meantime Pauline had also entered religious life with the Holy Rosary Sisters in Killeshandra. Owing to ill health she had to leave Killeshandra and after some time she joined Celine in Milltown. But Pauline left the Congregation before her Profession.
Interestingly, the Noviceship piano in Milltown was donated by the Corrigans after Celine entered.
Celine was first assigned to Children’s Nursing in Temple Hill and later to St. Vincent’s Hospital to train in General Nursing. She was in a male ward - Sr. Frances Borgia being the Ward Sister! Celine was so terrified of everything and everyone and broke so many thermometers that after some time it was decided nursing wasn’t for her!
Sister Agnes Roche encouraged Celine to train as a domestic science teacher in Liverpool. Although she had no desire to teach, Celine felt it was an achievement and gave it her all. She was terrified of facing classrooms of teenage girls. She had absolutely no previous experience of domestic work and never saw a cabbage or meat in their raw state!
After much hard work Celine eventually qualified as a Domestic Science Teacher and was sent to teach in the Domestic Training College, Clonmel. In 1958 she was missioned to the newly opened secondary school in Bristol – St. Bernadette’s – to accompany Sr. Anne Shine.
Due to her domestic science education, Celine was extremely knowledgeable about vitamins, and enjoyed passing on that information telling people what was good for them - but would not touch green vegetables herself!!!
Celine was always uncomfortable with Domestic Science Teaching, but she worked extremely hard at it and eventually was so efficient that she became Head of her Department. She was greatly respected and loved in her school. She retired before the ‘official’ retiring date and was then missioned to Macclesfield as Local Leader and Parish Sister. In community she was well known for her millionaire shortbread and she used to do a regular baking of scones on a Saturday filling all the cake tins for the days ahead – all this, despite not enjoying cooking!
Celine loved her time spent with parishioners, especially the elderly. She was totally dedicated to them in such a natural manner and they loved and respected her.
Celine retired to Hackney in 2004. She always joined Sr. Margaret Devlin in the evenings in her room when she was following ‘the soaps’ and said that otherwise Margaret would have no company! She also ensured that Margaret would always have a good supply of her favourite mint imperial sweets! Until very recently, Celine went each night to pray and talk with two sisters who were confined to their rooms – even though she herself was becoming more confused.
People describe Celine as a very spiritual and gentle lady. She gave herself and her ‘all’ to the Lord all those years ago. She never asked for anything in return and was always more concerned for everyone else’s welfare - going through life in her own ‘Little Way’ and making a difference! She had a close relationship with the ladies in St Margaret’s Rockferry and in the local community who loved her regular visits. She was very involved with the St Vincent De Paul. In spite of her failing health she made a contribution by being involved in any of the activities both in her own Community and in the larger Community of the Parish.
Celine lacked confidence in herself but was very kind and caring. She also loved dancing – in fact she completed a course in Line Dancing. She would sing and her party piece was always “in her sweet little Alice blue gown” to which she would do the actions to perfection.
When we lose a member of our community, and one so committed, it is very important for me to do proper research into their lives. Therefore, I am very grateful to the following, all having lived with Celine - Mary Brennan, Jacinta Rankin and Anne Lally for their contribution to this story.
As we are now in Holy Week we remember Celine, not someone who is dead and gone; but we are remembering someone who has died to this life and who now lives with the Risen Christ. Celine’s last words to me were “well what can I expect I’m nearly ninety and I can’t go on forever”. It is time to go, she was ready to leave this life and go to her Father.
Again I wish to express our sincere thanks to all those who have given so much support to Celine, shown her compassion and love throughout her time here especially this community.
Sr Helena, Sr Jackie all staff on the care floor and of course the Palliative care team from the Hospice.
Our thanks also to Father Peter Scott for the lovely Mass today.
May God Bless you all.
May Celine now Rest in Peace.