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SisterMarie Celeste Miller

Life Story & Obituary

November 5, 1945 – July 25, 2023

In 1945, Robert Lockwood Miller and Lillian Maxine (Gomulski) Miller welcomed their first child into this world, naming her Laureen Adele. Another girl, Michelle, and a boy, Thomas, soon joined their older sister to complete the Miller family.

Laureen graduated from Mt. Mercy High School in 1963 and began her studies at Aquinas College where she first encountered Dominican Sisters both as a student and as an assistant in the Registrar’s Office doing secretarial work.

About her experience with the Dominican Sisters at Aquinas College she said, “they taught me something very special about God, human living, and love.” So impressed with the dynamic energy and warmth of the Sisters she asked to enter the community in the fall of 1964. At the time of reception, the following year, she received a new name, Sister Marie Celeste. She favored it so much that she legally changed her name to Marie Celeste Miller in 1986.

Sister Marie Celeste graduated from Aquinas College in 1968 with a BA in English and received a Certificate of Study from the Aquinas College Institute of Religious Studies in 1970. She then earned an MA in English from Middlebury College, Vermont through summers of study from 1972 – 1976.

Her career in teaching began at SS Peter & Paul High School in Saginaw where she taught ten years before transferring for one year to St. Mary Gaylord. An extraordinarily successful teacher, she soon was granted leave to pursue a doctorate in Art History at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. Completing that degree in 1983, she was invited to teach at Centre College in Danville, Kentucky to replace a woman on a one-year parental leave. In reviewing her work there, her supervisor wrote: “Everyone is so delighted with her that we have already considered ways to keep her on.” He went on to say she was “an extremely conscientious person, and . . . also very smart.” Alas, they were not able to hire her as had been hoped.

It can be said that Centre College’s loss was a solid gain for Aquinas College where Sister Marie Celeste taught Art History, initiated a Humanities Program, and served as Dean of Curriculum. For over twenty years, Aquinas College benefited from her creativity, keen sense of responsibility, meticulous preparation, and competence.

A highlight of her life occurred in 1985, when Sister Marie Celeste wrote a strongly persuasive proposal to be granted a study trip to Europe. Permission was granted and fully funded. She and her companion Sister Phyllis Mrozinski, an artist in her own right, traveled through Italy, France, the Netherlands, and England in 1986 visiting museums and other important sites to study art and absorb the cultures of Europe so important in their work.

One event during that trip stands out as a serendipitous moment. Offered a softball size piece of marble from the same quarry where Michelangelo had acquired material for his work, Sister Marie Celeste and Sister Phyllis carefully transported the piece home. Even today Sisters report loving to hold the small figure of St. Dominic, sculpted by Sister Phyllis from that scrap of marble, and made to fit snugly in the human hand.

Never one to seek acclaim, Sister Marie Celeste received the first annual Outstanding Aquinas College Woman’s Award for extraordinary service to the Aquinas Community by an Aquinas Faculty Member in 2003. In 2012, upon her retirement from Aquinas College the Board of Trustees granted Sister Marie Celeste Associate Professor Emerita Faculty status in recognition of her twenty-nine years of teaching and leadership.

Then much to everyone’s surprise, Sister Marie Celeste turned her attention, talent for meticulous planning, and love for baking into a completely new endeavor – that of opening a bakery featuring hand-crafted, beautifully presented cakes, biscotti, and brownies. Dubbed The Peace of Cake, Inc., she coupled this enterprise with teaching on-line Art History classes until giving the bakery her full attention in 2015 with a ritual blessing at the opening of her satellite kitchen at Marywood. The business flourished until her diminished health necessitated its closure.

Those who lived and worked with her remember her as quiet and serious when the situation called for it. She is also remembered as a wonderful and energetic teacher, a loving and competent colleague, always pleasant, supportive, and prepared. Even in her earliest years of teaching, she was noted as inquisitive, bright and a hard worker. The students were a little bit afraid of her, said one colleague, because of her intensity and despite her diminutive size, but they soon loved her because they discovered she was a good listener and compassionate in her response to them when they needed someone to talk to about their problems. She was great to live with, noted one of her community members, and always carried her weight. She was a good conversationalist and gracious hostess. “Above all,” wrote one of her companions, “she was a good friend and a good listener, always there with support.”

At the time of her 25th Jubilee, Sister Marie Celeste reflected: “I have come to know the Lord as a God of surprise and as I consider the mystery of it all, I am reminded of Leon Bloy’s words: ‘When those who love God try to talk about Him, their words are blind lions looking for springs in the desert.’”

The Divine Artist has welcomed Sister Marie Celeste into Paradise where the springs of fresh water and clear vision of God’s abiding love refresh her lion-sized soul. May she rest in peace in the company of all those she loved.


Sister Marie Celeste Miller was preceded in death by her parents Robert Lockwood Miller and Lillian Maxine Miller. She is survived by her sister, Michelle Ringleka and her husband, Ron, of Caledonia, MI; her brother, Thomas Miller of Chicago, IL; her nephew, Christopher Schwallier, his wife, Nancy and their children, Celeste and Andrew Schwallier of Ada, MI; her niece, Robin Ringleka-Kottke, her husband, Steven and their children, Mari and Lucy Kottke of Viroqua, WI; many beloved cousins; friends and members of her Dominican Community.

Deceased

Entered eternal life on July 25, 2023 at the age of 77 after 58 years of religious life.

We commend Sister Marie Celeste to your prayers.

Prayer Ministry

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Sr. Marie Celeste helps a student during her Art History class at Aquinas College.

Sister Marie Celeste baking in The Peace of Cake Kitchen.

The Peace of Cake treated visitors at the Dominican Sisters Annual Celebration event with confections by Celeste.

At the time of her 25th Jubilee, Sister Marie Celeste reflected: “I have come to know the Lord as a God of surprise and as I consider the mystery of it all, I am reminded of Leon Bloy’s words: ‘When those who love God try to talk about Him, their words are blind lions looking for springs in the desert.’”

Sister Blandina Stang and Marie Celeste Miller on her Reception Day.

In ministry with †Sister Marie Celeste Miller, OP

Funeral Services for Sister Marie Celeste Miller OP

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Her Story: Sister Inspiration – Sister Marie Celeste Miller, OP

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Marywood Academy Class of 1965 50th Reunion

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Dominican Sisters Grand Rapids 2015 Jubilarians

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Annual Back-to-College Dominican Sisters Aquinas College Picnic

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