Pommerel, Celestine, Mother

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Religious superior; b. Feillens, Burgundy, France, April 7, 1813; d. Carondelet, Mo., June 17, 1857. As the daughter of André and Louise (Pommiers) Pommerel, she was baptized Marie. Although educated by the Sisters of St. Charles in Mâcon, France, she entered the novitiate of another community, the Sisters of St. Joseph, in Lyons, France. As Sister Celestine she received the habit on May 18, 1831, and made her vows on Oct. 15, 1833. She then taught in the Diocese of Chamberry until the superior general, Mother St. John Fontbonne, selected her for the missions in St. Louis, Mo. Following a year's preparation in working with the deaf, Sister Celestine arrived in St. Louis on Sept. 4, 1837. After teaching for two years at Carondelet, near St. Louis, she became the first superior general of the Sisters of St. Joseph in the United States. By 1840 she had founded the novitiate of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, opened the first U.S. school for the deaf, established seven elementary schools (one for black children), and formed an Native American mission. She also built three hospitals and established novitiates in Wheeling, W.Va.; Philadelphia, Pa.; Toronto, Canada; St. Paul, Minn.; and Buffalo, N.Y. At her death she left 149 sisters to continue her work.

Bibliography: m. l. savage, The Congregation of St. Joseph of Carondelet (2d ed. St. Louis 1927).

[st. c. coyne]