Our Sisters: Bernardin and Celestine
The Alverno we know and love today wouldn’t be the same without Sisters Bernardin Deutsch ’53 and Celestine Schall ’48! Sister Celestine developed and led our groundbreaking internship program, while Sister Bernardin, a longtime psychology professor, was the first to videotape student work. And both helped to build our abilities-based curriculum.
The women first met in 1965 as part of a group to help women religious navigate the changing roles of women in society and in the church. Later, they became part of a group of School Sisters of St. Francis at Alverno whose work was related to residence life, and the group moved into common quarters in 1969. As the last two living sisters from this group, they continue their bond of community as they live, pray and serve together.
How were you called to the sisterhood?
Sister Celestine: There were two things that planted the seed for my vocation. First, I admired my aunt who was a Franciscan teacher. In addition, I was inspired to be a teacher by the School Sisters of St. Francis, who were very friendly, kind and helpful teachers in my grade school and high school.
Sister Bernardin: My mother and father were realists who believed and lived God’s love and concern for all. As I saw that lived out by the School Sisters of Notre Dame in my grade school and the School Sisters of St. Francis in my high school, I developed an appreciation for their faith life and concern for others. I also remember realizing that while everything in life changes, God lasts forever.
What is your favorite Alverno memory?
Sister Celestine: When we changed to ability-based education, we taught the students that they have to be able to apply what they know. In my work as director of the internship program, it was exciting to see students become aware that they had ideas to contribute as well as the interaction skills to communicate those ideas in their internship settings.
Sister Bernardin: The beginning of Weekend College in the mid-1970s was an incredible experience. About 250 adult women entered Alverno to complete their educational goals. I worked with the teachers of the introductory course to the Weekend College curriculum and saw students’ lives shaped through energy and learning.
Discover more key moments in Alverno’s history in this timeline.
What makes Alverno students special?
Sister Celestine: I have witnessed Alverno students maturing and developing their gifts, showing growth in self-confidence and expressing themselves with poise and clarity. In class, I had them view their first and last video assessment tapes, and they could see and celebrate their personal growth!
Sister Bernardin: What and how students learn at Alverno allows them to become lifelong learners. They don’t necessarily recognize that as they are learning, but many do by the time they are in their junior and senior years. As they review assessments of the past, they see their own development.
What is something interesting that you know about Sister Bernardin?
Sister Celestine: In 2011, Sister Bernardin mentioned that she would love to drive a race car for the Indianapolis 500, and some of her colleagues gave her a surprise birthday present to ride with a professional race car driver around State Fair race track! She describes the experience as entering into another culture.
What is something interesting that you know about Sister Celestine?
Sister Bernardin: She really enjoys creating situations that will enhance life for others. Her great energy and talent expended for others create a world I appreciate.
This May, Sister Celestine announced her retirement from Alverno after 48 years of sharing her talents, wisdom and energy with students, colleagues and the entire campus community. We heartily congratulate Sister Celestine, especially as she celebrates her 75th Jubilee as a School Sister of St. Francis, and we thank her for her invaluable contributions to Alverno!
This article appears in the spring/summer 2019 issue of Alverno Magazine.