Current Ministry Location – Hawaii
Cecelia Santos was born January 30, 1929 in Paia, on the island of Maui, Hawaii, the youngest of eleven children, to Alexa (Gouveia) Santos and Manuel S. Santos. She had 9 brothers: Alfred, Edwin, Herbert, John, Lawrence, Lionel, Louis, Thomas and William and 2 sisters: Roselin and Sr. Dorothy, SSC. Cecelia (Cece) graduated from St. Anthony’s High School, Wailuku, HI in 1947.
Cecelia had imbibed much about mission through her primary and secondary education with Maryknoll Sisters in Wailuku, Maui.
Cece Santos entered the Maryknoll Sisters Congregation August 18, 1947 at the Sisters Center in NY. She professed First Vows March 7, 1950 in NY and Final Vows March 7, 1953 also in NY. In 1954, Cecelia received a Bachelor’s degree in Education from Maryknoll Teachers College, Maryknoll, NY.
After graduation from college, Cecilia (Cece) was assigned to Hawaii. She taught for eight years in elementary schools in Waialua and Kalihi until 1962.
Cece received her first overseas mission assignment to Chile in 1962, and after a year of language study in Pucón, she continued her education ministry as both teacher and principal in Maryknoll schools in Santiago, Curepto and Chillán.
Sister Cecelia (Cece) was loaned to Hawaii in 1970 and 1971 to teach in Wailuku, Maui and Waikiki, Honolulu. On her return to Chile she continued living in Chillán, teaching sixth grade and making time also for a bible study group, a course for mothers to do sacramental preparation, and, as always, home visiting.
In 1976, she was assigned to share her talents for two years at Maryknoll, New York in Supportive Services. She then spent a year living with the Maryknoll Sisters Contemplative Community, an experience she treasures.
Sister Cecelia (Cece) returned to Chile and the town which still holds her special affection, Coelemu. Her pastoral work included supporting Basic Christian Communities, youth ministry, catechetics and training lay leaders. She was involved in endeavors as diverse as building a chapel with a group of women for their village, to operating an eyeglasses bank for those unable to afford glasses, and being chaplain of a 60 bed hospital. She presided at wakes and funerals when needed and also Sunday celebrations not covered by the pastor.
In May 2007, Sister Cecelia (Cece) was interviewed in Chile by the local TV Channel 2 as a “personage”, an outstanding person, in a program called “Portfolio”. For Cecelia, being a neighbor and a friend is part of what mission is about. Sister Cecelia Santos was affirmed of this when she received the “Distinguished Neighbor” award recommended by the people of Coelemu, Chile in 1991.
Sister Cece also has an exceptional singing voice which brightened many entertainments with both Hawaiian chants and Spanish songs.
In late 2015, Sister Cecelia was assigned again to Hawaii to continue her mission activities there.