Bowe, Catherine Mary (Sister Celeste) (1931–76), Daughter of Charity and nurse, was born 23 February 1931 in Newberry, Mallow, Co. Cork, daughter of James Bowe, labourer, and Julia Bowe (née Ducey). She was educated at the local national and secondary schools. In 1949 she trained as an orthopaedic nurse at St Vincent's Hospital, Pinner, Middlesex, where she took first place in Great Britain in her final examination (1951). She qualified (1953) as a state registered nurse at St John's and St Elizabeth's Hospital, London, and returned to St Vincent's as a staff nurse. Catherine entered the Congregation of the Daughters of Charity on 20 February 1956 in Dublin. On 9 September 1957 she received the religious habit in Paris, taking the name ‘Sister Celeste’, and served her noviciate (1957–61) in Cork, where she was professed 15 March 1961. Sister Celeste nursed in the North Infirmary, Cork; Our Lady's Hospital for Sick Children, Crumlin, Dublin; and St Vincent's, Pinner.
She was awarded the London University diploma in nursing (1965) and her nurse tutor diploma at UCD (1967), and qualified as a registered nurse for mental defectives. In 1967 she was appointed principal tutor at St Joseph's Hospital for people with learning disabilities at Rosewell, near Edinburgh, Scotland. During the 1960s and early 1970s hospitals for such patients, including St Joseph's, were custodial institutions.
Sister Celeste studied advances made in nursing those with intellectual disabilities in Kansas, US, and was awarded a Churchill scholarship to Scandinavia to study the normalisation of such children. She was introduced to the concepts of individualised care and community care of those with intellectual disabilities. The knowledge gained in Kansas and Scandinavia was used in the classroom and in the wards to develop a family and social model of care for the children. Sister Celeste introduced a rewards system similar to the Kansas model and developed a holistic person-centred training programme to stimulate and maximise the potential of these children. Music was another form of therapy and recreation. A registered course in nursing for the intellectually disabled was established at St Joseph's, and student nurses from the general hospitals in Scotland were seconded to this hospital for three months of their nurse training. In 1969 Sister Celeste was involved in the establishment and opening of a special boarding school for pupils aged 4–18 years. It was staffed by trained teachers under the education authority and became the largest school in Europe for children with learning disabilities. During her nine years at Rosewell, Sister Celeste and Daniel Williamson, principal tutor at Lennox Castle Hospital, Glasgow, developed a course of nursing specifically designed for children with learning disabilities. She became a national authority on the care and nursing of people with learning disabilities and served on committees set up by the General Nursing Council for Scotland and the Royal College of Nursing (Scottish Board); chaired the Lothian Region Nursing and Midwifery Consultative Committee; was a lecturer on postgraduate management courses at the Royal College of Nursing, Edinburgh; and became (1973) a member and chairman of the Lothian health council, where she was a strong advocate for those with learning disabilities and set up a professional study group at the University of Edinburgh. Sister Celeste was the first nun and Roman catholic to be appointed to the General Nursing Council of Scotland. In 1975 she was awarded the MBE for her services to nursing.
She died 9 August 1976 in Chalmers Hospital, Edinburgh, aged 45, and was buried in St Matthew's cemetery, Rosewell.