You Can’t Know Great Loss Unless You’ve Known Great Blessings

The Texas Story Project.

Céline Jacquemin was born in the south of France, and raised in a very tiny village called Venanson with a population of about 100 inhabitants. As a mountain girl , she knew she loved learning different languages and wanted to make that her dream career. All through high school her mother sent her to spend summers in Germany in order to help Celine achieve her dream. There in Germany, she quickly became fluent in German, after earning her Certificate of German as a Second Language she had the opportunity to visit with a family in California in order to improve her English.

She arrived in California where she stayed with an American family who helped her enroll in at Cal State Fullerton to study Political Science and German. After a long academic journey getting her Ph.D. from the University of California, Irvine, she applied to over 70 universities across the nation including St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, Texas which had the top job on her list.

After finally receiving an interview call from St.Mary’s University, she came to Texas for a follow up 3-day interview on campus for the position of Assistant Professor and to run the Undergraduate International Relations program. She recalls that the first thing that attracted her to the university was its Marianist mission. She was very surprised to find a university located in the state of Texas founded by the Marianists who originated from France guided by Father Chaminade (the founder of the Marianists). She remembers her amazement at discovering this university in Texas with her dream job was founded by a group of French Marianists. It was all like a dream come true. It so happened that the week she came for the interview the university was celebrating its Founder Day where they host a mass in honor of Father Chaminade.

During lunchtime on that grey January day, Jonathan who was coordinating her interview schedule, gave her the option to stay in the cafeteria after lunch or to hang out in one of the faculty offices. Dr. Céline asked where he was going and when she learned about the mass she insisted that she wanted to celebrate with the university. In Guadalupe Chapel, she was surprised to see how the community was so wonderful and involved with the service and celebration, students sang in the choir and helped at the altar, the chapel was filled with staff, students, faculty, and so many professed Marianists. This was one of the many things that made her realize how special this community was.

Later that night she prayed to God explaining that she thought with this dream job at St Mary’s University, she knew she could become closer to Him. After a couple of weeks of patiently waiting, she received the offer for the position which she accepted. That summer, she packed her things along with her cat and moved to San Antonio,Texas. One of the first things she noticed about the students in Texas was how formal they were when speaking to the instructors. She remembers that the first time a student said to her “Yes, Ma’am” for a moment she got scared and thought she was getting old. But then she realized that the student was just being formal—something she was not used to because in California students are not formal. Instead of saying “Yes, ma’am” a student would say “yeah” or “nah.” She also loved that the people in Texas were kind and friendly. She loves the San Antonio Riverwalk and the sound of the river that you can hear in downtown because the river sound reminds her a little bit of home in the French Alps. Besides loving the history of the city, she also loves the food, especially the Tex-Mex food or the amazing Texas barbeque.

Texas not only gave Dr. Céline her dream job but also the opportunity to meet her husband, Professor Lee Goodridge whom she dearly loved. They met a year after she had worked at St. Mary’s University. That following summer she decided she was going to use her free time to accomplish one of the other goals she had as a teen which was to practice martial arts. She took a Jujitsu class and the instructor Professor Lee or Kyoshi Lee as he is known by his Japanese title. They married 3 years later. Prof Lee not only taught Dr. Céline about martial arts but he also introduced her to the African American culture, something she had been interested as well throughout her life. Sadly, while in Texas God gave her the opportunity to meet such a wonderful person as Prof Lee, He died a few years later of complications of cancer while in a Dojo blessed to be practicing what he loved. I admire Dr. Céline for having such a positive outlook on her personal loss. She loved her husband so much that, despite her loss, she states that “you cannot know great loss unless you’ve known great blessings” and that is exactly who her husband was for Dr. Céline. He was one of the greatest blessings God could have ever given her.

As our chat was coming to an end, I last asked Dr. Céline if she ever planned on moving out of Texas, to which she quickly answered “No, because Texas feels like home.” She says that besides loving the San Antonio people and its history, what makes her feel more at home is the fact that in Texas it’s so much easier to share her faith and to walk by faith. She continues to restate that she couldn’t be more grateful that God chose Texas as part of her path to accomplish her dream career and to continue to bless her with amazing people, students, and colleagues in her life.

Born in Bogota, Colombia, Karol Miranda is a freshman at St. Mary’s University, studying Political Science. Karol wishes to become a defense attorney where she hopes she can help promote justice by defending those who are wrongly accused. Her goal doesn’t stop there. She later plans to become a judge so that she can give proper sentences to those who deserve it.

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