Sister Marie Celeste Bindseil, SSJ, originally felt a call to join the foreign missions, but she decided instead to follow what she considered her real call from God: to become a religious sister.
Born in Frankfurt, Germany, she was christened Lieselotte Albina Bindseil, a daughter of the late Edwin and Josephine Bindseil. She also became the stepdaughter of Albina (Weis) Bindseil.
In 1923, when she was only 1, her family sailed to the United States, where she took the name Charlotte Albina Bindseil. It wasn’t until she entered the Sisters of St. Joseph of Northwestern Pennsylvania, in 1942, that she was named Sister Marie Celeste. She entered the community from St. John the Baptist Parish in Erie.
She first noticed her call to religious life when she was a student at St. John the Baptist School in Erie. During her high school years at Erie’s Academy High School, she came to know seminarians who impressed her with their lives of faith. She entered the SSJs in 1942 and professed her final vows on Aug. 15, 1948.
She earned her bachelor’s degree in business education from Villa Maria College, Erie, and took courses in purchasing at Indiana University, Bloomington, Ind., and accounting at IBM and at Penn State-Behrend, Erie.
For 10 years after entering the SSJs, Sister Marie Celeste taught at Sacred Heart School in Erie, St. Agatha School in Meadville, and St. Leo Elementary/High School in Ridgway. She then ministered for 38 years at Saint Vincent Hospital in various positions, including director of admissions, director of purchasing, equipment coordinator, patient advocate and chaplain. She retired from Saint Vincent in 1991, after serving for more than 10 years as its pastoral care chaplain. From 1960-74, she was active with the Hospital Purchasing Agents of Northwestern Pennsylvania. Additionally, Sister Marie Celeste worked as an advocate for the Diocese of Erie’s Marriage Tribunal, and she served as a receptionist at the Villa Maria Conference Center and the Sisters of St. Joseph Neighborhood Network, both in Erie. She volunteered at the Regional Cancer Center in Erie and helped minister to ill members of her religious community after moving to the congregation’s Community Living Center in 1993. She currently participates in the community’s Prayer Call Ministry, and continues to hold membership in the National Association of Catholic Chaplains. She regularly practices her native German and still loves to play Scrabble and other challenging games. Through 75 years of religious life, Sister Marie Celeste has grown in her dependence on God’s graces. She describes her life today as a “ministry of prayer.” “One needs a deep and intimate relationship with God, putting him first in life,” she says. “God desires that we grow in our love for him, our knowledge of him and a life of service to him…that we would be holy and blameless before him.”
Sister Marie Celeste Bindseil passed away on August 17, 2017.