A Carmelite nun shares her life’s ‘miracles’

Published October 17, 2021, 8:10 AM

by Deedee Siytangco


Sister Mary Celine is an “out sister” or extern at Our Lady of All Grace at the Carmel church in Lipa, Batangas, where many friends, including the late visionary Sister Teresing Castillo, my husband, and I made regular First Saturday pilgrimages for 20 years.

Here is her testimony as a devotee of Our Lady, Mary Mediatrix of All Grace.

“I, Sister Mary Celine of Jesus, O.C.D., entered Lipa Carmel in December 1949. We were then seven extern Sisters. I was the youngest and Sister Elizabeth was the oldest one in the group.

Sister Mary Celine of Jesus, OCD ( Apolonia Arguelles Gutierrez)

I have always been an ardent devotee of Our Lady, Mary Mediatrix of All Grace. When talks about the apparition of Our Lady in 1948 to a novice, Sister Teresing Castillo, was at its height, I saw, along with many others, the image of Our lady in the sky, reflected on the famous Sampaloc Lake of my hometown, San Pablo City, during a procession in her honor.

Even before the investigation, publications came out with allegations that it was a hoax made to attract people to Carmel. The result of the investigation into the apparition ordered the removal of the statue of Our Lady from the veneration of the people and placed in seclusion inside the cloister for 40 years. The people were angry to the point of not coming to Carmel anymore. Even the people who promised to help financially in the construction of the chapel revoked their pledges. Many returned our plea for help with insults and personal debasements. We could not even defend ourselves and our cause because we were bound by our vow of obedience to the investigative committee to remain silent, much more not to explain anything on pain of committing immortal sin. The construction of the chapel was suspended temporarily. Through it all, however, not everyone abandoned us. The true lovers of our dear Mother remained faithful to us so eventually we were able to finish the chapel.

In 1983, I was diagnosed with cancer of the ovaries. I underwent an operation on July 18, 1983 at the Magsino General Hospital. Dr. Celestino Dimayuga found the ovaries ruptured and the cancer metastasized. I was given two to four months to live.

I underwent chemotherapy right away. I was supposed to have 12 sessions but after the eighth session, with all the inexplicable feelings I would have after each session, I stopped treatments altogether and prepared myself for death. I kept on praising God for giving me such time to prepare myself to meet Him.

It has since been many years and I’m still alive, doing my apostolate in and out of Carmel. All through the years, the Blessed Mother has made her presence very tangible in this monastery. Sometime later, I told Mama Mary, “It is almost 40 years now since you appeared here in Carmel. It is just fitting that the flooring of the chapel be changed to marble so that when you are out for the veneration of the people, we will not have a hard time cleaning the floors.” I even gave her a condition, “should this desire be granted, be it done without the necessity of asking for help. You know what happened in the past. We have been deeply humiliated.” I even asked her to let me win in the sweepstakes. “Am I asking too much, dear Mother? Am I wishing for the impossible?”

Not long after, a dear friend who was having a marital problem asked me to go abroad with her for moral support. She also wanted me to have a thorough medical checkup in the US. My community granted me permission, but my friend was not approved for travel and so I ended up going with someone else.

Shortly after arriving in the US, we went to the Shrine of Our Lady of Long Island in New York. Because of the deep fog and impending downpour of rain, we abandoned our original plan to make the Stations of the Cross and to eat our packed lunch near the shrine.

On our way, we had a very serious accident. The driver escaped unscathed but three of my companions were badly hurt and I bore the brunt of the crash because of where I was seated. In the hospital, five doctors treated me for four hours. Seven of my ribs were broken as well as my pelvic bone. I had internal bleeding, my lungs collapsed, and my heart was affected. I was at the intensive care for five days. Surprisingly, I did not need any operation. After two weeks, I was discharged. For three long months, I was limping. I thought I would never walk again normally. After five months of therapy, I was allowed to fly back home

I was thankful to God for His blessings through Mama Mary. I really felt her hands touching me and assuring me of her graces from Him. True to her promises, everything went fine.

After three years, I got the proceeds of the insurance from the car accident. I spent it on the marble flooring of the chapel and the balance was shared with the less fortunate ones.

Immediately after the flooring project, the oldest cloistered nun died. Just before she died, she requested Archbishop Mariano Gaviola that the statue of Our Lady, Mary Mediatrix of All Grace be placed outside for veneration. For the first time, after 40 years, on the day of her burial on May 21, 1990, Our Lady was brought out.

This was what I asked of Our Lady. She granted my request. She let her hands work in ways man finds hard to understand. I was simply the instrument. Thousands of people came to see Our Lady, Mary Mediatrix of All Grace. Many of them were weeping with joy. To this day, Mary’s devotees are true to her.”