sister cecilia sullivan

October 19, 1924 - April 9, 2015

A peaceful, gentle woman of prayerfulness, joy and acceptance.

John and Sarah (Carroll) Sullivan of Kansas City, Missouri, welcomed their daughter Cecilia on October 19, 1924. Cecilia had five sisters and one brother. Three of the girls chose religious life. Mary, an older sister, became S. Mary Agnes, a Daughter of Charity. Her sister Regina, later S. Emily Frances, also entered the Sisters of St. Joseph.

After starting her second year of junior college, Cecilia decided she was called to religious life. She had BVM sisters in grade and high schools but did not feel attracted to them.

I entered the Sisters of St. Joseph because [her cousin] Sister Cyril Lynch used to come to visit and she was always so cheerful and so full of fun that when I wanted to enter I said that I think I want to be a Sister of…I didn’t know what order she was…but I want to be like Sister Cyril. So my mother said, ‘I think they are at Assumption Convent, so why don’t you go up there and talk to the sisters?’

Cecilia entered the Sisters of St. Joseph February 11, 1943, receiving the habit and the name S. Regina Margaret on August 15, 1943. She received a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Fontbonne College in 1954.

For 34 years, S. Cecilia ministered in elementary education teaching primary grades in these schools: St. Louis, Englewood, Colorado (1945); Our Lady of Presentation, St. Louis, Missouri (1948); Sts. John & James, Ferguson, Missouri (1953); Sacred Heart, L’Anse, Michigan (1956); Immaculate Conception, St. Joseph, Missouri (1959); St. Bede, Chicago, Illinois (1961); Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception (1962) and Our Lady of Perpetual Help (1963), both in Kansas City, Missouri; St. Louis, Waco, Texas (1972); and St John the Evangelist, Valdosta, Georgia (1977).

While S. Cecilia was in Waco, Texas, she became interested in the charismatic movement and, when possible, actively continued that interest in each subsequent assignment. “It was a real gift to me. It was a beautiful gift.” Describing the spirituality she strove for she said, “always accept things as they come, accept them with joy and patience...”

In 1979, S. Cecilia became a pastoral minister at St. Joseph Parish in Jesup, Georgia. The following year, she went to St. Rose of Lima in Houston, Texas, where she was the director of ASAP (After School Activities Program). This program provided after school supervision of homework as well as play time and snacks—a safe place for children whose parents worked.

She remained at St. Rose until 1986 when she asked for a sabbatical.

After a short sabbatical at the Oblate School of Theology in San Antonio and some time at the Benedictine Monastery in Pecos, New Mexico, S. Cecilia became a pastoral associate at St. Monica Parish in Cameron, Texas, in 1986.

S. Cecilia joined a sharing of the heart group during the 1980s and remained faithful to that group. When she could no longer travel to meetings, the sisters came to Nazareth to meet there.

In 1990, S. Cecilia returned to St. Louis and took a position as parish secretary at St. Luke the Evangelist until 1993 when she became a tutor for the children in the grade school.

In 2000 she retired to Nazareth Living Center where she could be close to her sister, S. Emily Frances.

S. Helen Oates

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