Born John A. McGonigal in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on February 19, 1901 he was the son of John and Elizabeth Feran McGonigal. He attended elementary school at Saint Mary of the Mount Parish. In 1918 he entered the Preparatory Seminary at St. Joseph’s Monastery, Baltimore, Maryland. When the new Preparatory Seminary opened at Holy Cross, Dunkirk, New York in 1920 he moved there to complete his last two years. On September 9, 1923 he professed his vows at Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and was given the name Celestine. After studies in the various monasteries of the province he was ordained to the priesthood at Immaculate Conception Monastery, Jamaica, New York by Bishop Paul Nussbaum on March 15, 1930.
After a year of Sacred Eloquence, Father McGonigal was appointed Director of Students from 1931 to 1932. Next he was assigned to the Passionist Preaching Mission Band until 1934 when he was appointed assistant pastor at St. Joseph, Union City, New Jersey. In 1941 he was elected Rector of St. Joseph’s Monastery, Baltimore, Maryland. Once his term of office concluded in 1947 he returned to the preaching apostolate of the province. He died on September 28, 1963.