Sister Cecilia Dignan, Sister Thomas Caritas, was born in Brooklyn, New York to Helen and Thomas Dignan, both natives of Ireland. Cecilia grew up in Holy Cross Parish, but there was always a wee part of her heart that belonged in Ireland, as you might suspect when you hear the musical selections in the liturgy.
Today’s Offertory Hymn, “You Are the Center of My Life” captures in song the essence of Celie’s life. Drawn to the Sisters of St. Joseph from an early age, she entered the Novitiate immediately after graduating from the Juniorate. She earned her Bachelor’s degree from Brooklyn College cum laude, and she was a very successful and beloved teacher at a number of our schools, including St. John the Evangelist, Immaculate Conception, and Most Precious Blood. In all these assignments she shared the deep joy that she drew from having God as the center of her life. One of our sisters, who was teaching at St. Francis Prep, told us that when she would ask students who their favorite grammar school teacher was, the name that came up most often was Sister Thomas Caritas, and later Sister Cecilia Dignan. That is even more wonderful when you realize that she had taught those students in 2nd or 4th grade!
Celie has been described as being genuinely good, a person of integrity, and a loving care-giver. She took care of her mother in her last years with a kind and generous heart, and we all know of her devotion to her dear Antoinette. Her generosity also extended to volunteer work, and she was often seen as a dedicated worker out in Hampton Bays. Of course, while there, she managed to have a lot of fun and some good laughs over a game of volleyball or in the pool.
Celie’s generosity took many forms, and she often sent little notes to Maria Regina with a nice check enclosed, designated as “for treats for the sisters, including those on the Pastoral Care Team.” She also supported the wonderful work of Hour Children, through direct financial assistance and contributions to the Thrift Shop.
Celeie, we thank you for being you, and for sharing yourself with us with such a generous and kind heart. You lived every day of your life with faith and trust in our loving God, and in fidelity to our Congregation’s mission and charism of great love of God and the dear neighbor without distinction. As a symbol of your fidelity, I now place our Consitution, the document by which we are guided in our living of our vocation, in your hands.
Sister Cecelia Dignan, CSJ died on March 21, 2021 in the 65th year of her religious life