2014 Jubilarian – Cecilia (Hermes) Campbell
It was during high school that Sister Cecilia Campbell began to consider joining and following her sister to the community. She graduated from high school in 1934 during the Great Depression. Her dad was unemployed; her mother was a homemaker. Sister Cecilia put her desire to join the convent on hold because she did not want to leave her parents in such difficult times.
She worked for four years to help support her family until their financial situation improved and then she joined the community with her parents’ blessing. Sister Cecilia says she “felt God calling me,” and by the time she joined, she knew “God had worked through her and her parents” and she “had peace then to join.”
Sister Cecilia recalls the strict schedule she had as a postulant. “We weren’t able to do a lot as far as going places and doing things, but in the summer we would pack a lunch and cross the bridge for a picnic on St. Joseph’s Island.” Sister Cecilia fondly recalls the games they would play and especially enjoyed the baseball games. She also enjoyed walking out to the cemetery and reading the headstones of the sisters. It was one way for the postulants to get to learn the names of the sisters who had died before they got to know them.
Her first mission was at St. Charles (Newport, Mich.), where she taught first and second grades for two years. She taught in many schools in and around Detroit, mostly the elementary grades. She also served as director of the primary grades at St. Mary Academy; as principal of St. John Vianney (Highland Park, Mich.); and assistant administrator at Gesu. In all, she ministered in schools from 1940-2002!
Teaching was a joy. “I delighted in teaching the children. I loved working with them.” While teaching at St. Anne (Warren, Mich.), Sister Cecilia fondly remembers for the first time First Communion was celebrated in the Barn Church. The 85 children had to walk a mile from the school to the church, and she was concerned about the safety. Her students listened to her directions and she was so proud of their behavior during that walk.
Sister Cecilia laughs as she recalls the changes in the habit after Vatican II. The first day she taught without wearing her veil, she said, “I felt naked. It felt like something was missing.” The change “was so drastic. It was kind of hard to get used to.” Sister Cecelia says the changes with the habit did not change the way she taught, but the children had to get used to the sisters’ new look.
Sister Cecilia loves living within the IHM community, having a relationship with the other sisters and sharing experiences with them. Her greatest joy though has been the opportunity to deepen her relationship with God. That, she says was the purpose for her coming to the community. “It was just part of what was inside of me.”