Maryknoll, NY – Sister Cecile Therese Burton, an educator and social worker in Hawaii died after a long illness on February 17, 2016 at Maryknoll Sisters Home Care, NY. She was 91 years old.
Frances Eloise was born in Washington, D.C., September 23, 1924 to Cecile R. Burton and Frank E. Burton. She had one brother, Barry and one sister, Joyce. Her brother, sister and both parents have predeceased her.
The family moved to Philadelphia and she graduated from Little Flower Catholic High School, PA in 1942 and Immaculata College, Immaculata, PA in 1945 with a B.A. major in French and a Teacher’s Certificate.
She entered the Maryknoll Sisters Congregation from St. Martin of Tours Parish in Philadelphia on September 6, 1945 at the Maryknoll Sisters Motherhouse in Ossining, NY. At her Reception she received the religious name Sister M. Cecile Therese. Sister Cecile made her first Profession of Vows on March 7, 1948 at Maryknoll and her Final Vows on March 7, 1951, also at Maryknoll. She then taught for one year at St. Anthony’s School in the Bronx, NY before her assignment to Hawaii in 1949.
The next forty- three years were spent in various missions in Hawaii as grade and Junior high school teacher, Religious Education Coordinator, parish Pastoral Worker, and part time teaching English as a second language. In the 1960’s Hawaii added foreign languages to grade school programs and as a French major Sister Cecile qualified for a Fulbright Scholarship to study in France in the summer of 1965, obtaining a Cert.D’Assiduite. In 1979, she attended a course in Clinical Pastoral Education at Central Islip, NY.
Along with her teaching responsibilities Sr. Cecile expanded her mission field. She became involved in a Peace Education Program, teaching peace and non-violence to children and was an active member of the Peace and Justice Committee of the Maryknoll Sisters in Hawaii from 1979 – 1994.
In 1991, while in Kailua, she started a new project, “WALKING WITH WOMEN,” working with women who lived in prisons and in shelters, and began advocating for women’s rights. She was also involved in various community action programs, such as senior day care and an abused shelter for women and children until 1998.
In 1999 Sr. Cecile moved to the Maryknoll Sisters residence in Monrovia, CA where she helped in an Adult Literacy Program, taught piano and mentored at a local Middle School to help children improve their reading skills. She returned to the Maryknoll Sisters Center at Maryknoll, NY in 2006 where she died on February 17, 2016.
A Vespers service will be held for Sister Cecile on Monday, February 22 at 4:15 p.m. in the Main Chapel at Maryknoll Sisters Center. A funeral Mass will follow on Tuesday, February 23 at 11:00 a.m. also in the Main Chapel at the Center. Interment will follow in the Maryknoll Sisters Cemetery on the Center grounds.