Sister Marie Celine Griffin

Sr. Marie Celine celebrating. Circa 1979.
Sr. Marie Celine celebrating. Circa 1979.

Sr. Marie Celine joined the Sisters of Notre Dame right after high school with the blessing of her father who told her, “Ever since I was told I had a baby girl, I have prayed that God would call you to Himself.”

During her novitiate years she enjoyed concentrating on prayer and meditation and the meaning of the three vows, but as a teacher, Sister’s creativity and zest for life shone.


My first “mission” started on March 10, 1931, I entered a class of third grade boys in Alameda. They were all truly live wires. I made a large chart of a football field and each row of the boys was represented by a football player.  The first row to be quiet and in order gained 10 yards!  When a touchdown was won by a row, each boy received a few slivers from a Notre Dame goal post.

[After a year in San Francisco, Sr. Marie Celine was sent to Notre Dame High School, Watsonville, to teach science and math.]

The classes were small, but made up of great girls.  One class of 15 were sophomores when I arrived and they claimed I grew up with them!  It was here that I was asked by my superior if I thought I could sell some candy to pay the taxes. I had made a name for as a candy maker as well as a teacher of science and math.  Candy?  I made it all in the chemistry lab!  Students cracked nuts for me, the Sisters packaged the boxes of candy row upon row and the girls received prizes for every box of candy they sold.  Yes, we paid the taxes…and more.

The next stop was Notre Dame High School San Jose. The entire third floor was science and math departments.  It included two large labs and a large classroom.  The heating system was not a good one and I heated the chem lab by lighting all the Bunsen burners before class.

[After several years back in San Francisco and Palma High School in Salinas, she was sent to the College of Notre Dame in Belmont.]

At the College I taught chemistry, physics and nutrition as well as managed the bookstore. These were great years for it was the period that our Memorial Chapel was built and Ralston ballroom, our temporary chapel of 33 years, was restored to a ballroom.  I was given the name Sr. Mary Chandelier because I washed and polished prisms and restored all the chandeliers to their original beauty.

[Sisters last teaching assignment lead her to Notre Dame High School, Salinas.]

I have been very happy and have loved my students and every day in the classroom.  Each day is the day the Lord has made and I do rejoice and am glad.

[Sister died in 1995.]


This memoir from Sister was originally published in “Notre Dame Woman” in 1988 by Notre Dame High School, Salinas, alumnae.

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