Would it matter if the file was populated after starting CICS?
Possibly -- was the file empty (i.e., never had a record written to it) when CICS opened it (a good way to have various issues if it happens)? If the file was loaded (from batch, for example) while CICS had the file open, you might need to close and reopen the file to get CICS up to date. There are a lot of possible factors (is the file in an LSR pool? how busy is the LSR pool? when, exactly, was the data loaded? when, exactly, was the file opened to CICS? was a batch enqueue / dequeue method used while updating? what are the file's SHAREOPTIONS? etc etc etc) to consider.
On the bright side, at least CECI is confirming the program status for the file. Why the file isn't showing data is another problem, of course.