During her early years in the congregation, Sr. Celeste ministered in education but later studied to be a physical therapist. When she moved from Baltimore to the Aston area in November 2015, she came with a dream—to work with our sisters at Assisi House who were not getting PT for a specific problem. However, she learned that this would not work because of the arrangements with Mercy LIFE. Sr. Celeste, however, had other dreams as well. When she came to OLA for liturgy, she observed the sisters, noting that some seemed to be having problems with balance or displayed other indications that PT sessions might help. She spoke to Srs. Mary Farrell and Mary Smith about possibilities, conferred with Sr. Ellie Moore about space, did a little shopping and rearranging, and the dream began to take shape. Sisters who were interested in a program for balance and strength got scripts from their doctors. Sr. Celeste began by evaluating individual needs and developing individualized programs that met with each sister’s needs. Recently she opened the program to sisters not living at OLA.
|Sr, Celeste checks Sr. Teresa's blood pressure and heart rate. This check is routine before and after each day's session.|
|In an exercise to strengthen her Quadriceps, Sr. Jude--wearing weights on her ankle--kicks her leg up to reach Sr. Celeste's hand.|
|Sr, Jude does exercises to improve balance. (above) Standing on one foot.|
|Another exercise for balance: Sr. Jude balances on a large ball and "marches" with her hands. Sr. Celeste holds onto the belt that Sr. Jude wears around her waist.|
|Sr. Celeste (right) shows Sr. Teresa how to hold her head and neck straight in order to improve posture.|
Asked about what challenges she encounters in this ministry, Sr. Celeste admitted that one challenge is making PT interesting in a way that makes the sisters want to keep coming back. It is obviously a challenge to keep motivating each individual to want to do “just a little more” and to move on to the next step. As in any ministry, working with different personalities necessitates finding a variety of ways to generate that motivation.
|Sr. Jude and Sr. Celeste do a series of armchair push-ups and sit-ups.|
|Wearing an elastic band around her ankle, Sr. Teresa does a series of stretches: out to each side and front and back|
|Sr. Celeste helps Sr. Teresa with exercises to strengthen her arm and back muscles. Pretty amazing!!|
And blessings? Celeste recalled her earlier work—especially with children—and the two-fold feelings of joy at seeing them overcome difficulties and of gratitude for her own health. She admits to that same sense of duality when she sees the sisters with whom she works walking just a bit straighter, standing and sitting with greater ease, and handling steps with a greater sense of security. And she added, “Because I exercise with each sister, my own balance is better and my muscles are really getting strong!” Then she added, “Earlier in my life, I was grateful to be able to study PT. Now I’m grateful that I’m able to continue to work—without the stress of a ‘job’—and grateful to the community for allowing me to pursue my dream!”
As one of those sisters who has been fortunate enough to avail myself of Sr. Celeste’s skills, I can attest to the personal satisfaction I feel when I walk up to Communion without reaching out for a pew to steady myself or when—after a workout—I hear that enthusiastic “Good job!”