Marie Celine Osbourn was born on February 21, 1928 on her family’s farm in rural Washington County, Kentucky near Springfield. She was the sixth of ten children of Victor and Ida Clements Osbourn. There were seven girls and three boys. Her oldest sister, a deaf mute, and was away at school most of the time. Celine felt that she did not really know her.
Celine remembers growing up on a farm and having to help with the work. The children took a bath once a week and when it was cold they would move the tub behind the stove to stay warm.
Celine was baptized at Saint Rose Church near Springfield. She went to Smith Public School in Washington County, which was a two room building with four grades in each room.
Celine was in the juniorate at Nazareth for two years. Her sister Dorothy, Sister James Leon, was already a Sister at Nazareth. She had an aunt who was a Dominican Sister. Celine says her sister Dorothy was influential in her choosing to become a SCN. Her aunt, Sister Celine Clements, was upset that she did not join the Dominican Sisters.
Celine entered the postulancy at Nazareth in January of 1946 and received the habit on July 19, 1946. She made her first vows on July 19, 1948 and final vows on July 19, 1951.
Sister Celine recalled while in the novitiate that the novices would gather in the chapel early in the mornings for prayer. One morning a novice fell into the aisle and Sister said she fainted but the novices said she fell asleep. Sister Celine remembers that they did all the cleaning and did the laundry twice a week. Once she had to clean the stairways from the first to the third floor. She found this to be quite a task to complete. A funny incident that occurred was that a Sister was trying to ring the bell on the first floor and Sister Celine was on the second floor holding the rope so the bell could not be rung!!!
While Sister Celine was in the novitiate her mother was in the hospital in Louisville, Kentucky. She told Sister Mary Aquinas Kelleher that she was calling her father to come and take her to see her mother. She called her father and reversed the charges, he came and got her and they went to see her mother. Her father then returned her to Nazareth. (This was when novices were not to leave Nazareth).
Sister Celine’s first mission was teaching at Saint Augustine, an African American school in Louisville, Kentucky. Her father often asked her what she had done to have to teach there for twelve years without a transfer to a new mission. She did not feel that way and enjoyed teaching the children there.
Sister Celine then went to Saint Jerome in Fancy Farm, Kentucky. She thoroughly enjoyed being at Saint Jerome since it was in the country. She could relate to the people because she had grown up on a farm.
Later she was principal and superior at Saint Pius X in Louisville and then she went to Memphis for a few years. Sister then returned to Nazareth to become Director of Campus Services from June 1984 to 1993. She said it was a challenging job because there were so many requests. She had to make a judgement in deciding the requests that were important and the ones that were the greatest need.
After her years as Director of Campus Services, Sister went to Memorial Hospital in Chattanooga, Tennessee where she ministered to the sick. She was there for over twenty years. Sister Celine found this ministry life-giving and enjoyable.
Sister Celine’s time in Chattanooga allowed her to develop a strong relationship with the SCN Associates and she has been instrumental in encouraging others to become Associates.
Sister Celine says a rewarding time in community life was when she lived at St. Helena in Louisville with thirty Sisters. The Sisters went to various jobs during the day and in the evening they shared meals. They shared their day’s experiences while sewing. She said they could not just sit and talk, they had to be doing something because, “the devil had work for idle hands.”
On the occasion of her 80th birthday, February 21, 2008, which was celebrated at Memorial North Park Hospital on April 2, 2008, Sister Celine was surprised by her family and coworkers with a trip to the County Commissioner’s office. She was awarded the Distinguished Citizen Award, along with an American flag with a certificate stating that it had been flown over the White House in Washington D.C. The presentation was made by County Commissioner, Jim Coppinger.
Sister Celine retired from Memorial Hospital on July 3, 2017 and moved to Nazareth, Kentucky to begin a slower pace of life. Sister Celine has found her life as an SCN fulfilling and rewarding.
Interview by Sharon Cecil, SCNA
April 22, 2017