Sister Catherine Celine Brocksmith: ‘Innate wisdom and good-natured prudence’
Recently, I received emails from two avid Throwback Thursday readers.
One came from Judy Copeland, who asked us to look up information on two different sisters, and the other came from White Violet Center for Eco-Justice intern and Providence Associate Ezra Meadors regarding another sister.
Judy, just so you know, I plan to look up your information as soon as possible. But today’s Throwback Thursday will focus on the life and ministries of Sister Catherine Celine Brocksmith.
While serving as an intern, Ezra has stayed at Marian Hall. He said the bedspread on his bed has the name “Sister Catherine Celine Brocksmith” sewn on it. Ezra said he has asked multiple sisters about Sister Catherine Celine and they responded about “what a true gem she was.”
Well Ezra, she was. Let’s take a look.
Anna Marie Brocksmith was born on June 1, 1905, in Vincennes, to Fred and Ethel Farrell Brocksmith. She entered the Congregation on Feb. 11, 1924.
She earned a bachelor’s degree in English from Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College and a master’s degree in education from Indiana State University.
She taught and ministered as principal at St. Thomas Aquinas School, located in Indianapolis, and also taught and was principal at St. Francis Xavier School, located in Wilmette, Illinois. Sister Catherine Celine also ministered at the Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College Montessori School, in health care at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, as the church sacristan at the Church of the Immaculate Conception, and as a gift shop assistant.
However, she also served as a member of the general council from 1949 to 1972, meaning she ministered with four General Superiors, including Mother Marie Helene Franey, Mother Gertrude Clare Owens, Mother Rose Angela Horan and Mother Mary Pius Regnier.
When her health began to decline, Sister Catherine Celine was cared for by many sisters, including Sister Betty Donoghue. In her commentary for Sister Catherine Celine, Sister Therese Guerin Sullivan wrote, “Thank you, Betty. Catherine loved you so.”
Sister Therese Guerin said she was quite close to Sister Catherine Celine. In her commentary, she wrote how Sister Catherine Celine loved to tell stories about her family and how much she loved them.
She also said Sister Catherine Celine “brought to the Sisters of Providence an innate wisdom and good-natured prudence.”
She added that her time on the General Council helped Sister Catherine Celine personally get to know many sisters.
“The living memory of the Congregation holds Catherine Celine as a leader who brought her genuine love of people to the ministry of congregational administration,” Sister Therese Guerin wrote. “Hundreds of sisters experienced her compassion and down to earth common sense.”
Sister Catherine Celine died on Feb. 23, 1998. She was 92 years old and was a Sister of Providence for 74 years.