Perhaps you know that Reina means queen in Spanish. And so our Sr. Mary Reina was in the hearts of many of us who knew her well and not so well. As you probably know by now (after over 10,000 hits on a Facebook announcement of her death), Sister has gone home to her Lord and heavenly friends, including all the other members of her immediate family. Sister died about six weeks shy of her 99th birthday. Whoever would have known that she was that life-wise, given her active mind and ready spirit?
What follows are some thoughts from the obituary the Sisters will keep on record.
Among her many friends were students at Notre Dame Academy whom she drew to pray a decade of the Rosary each morning in the school chapel shortly before the first bell. Some of these students brought their lunches up to eat with Sister occasionally. Also appearing at Sister’s noon lunch were a number of graduates who obviously were quite devoted to her and treasured her significance in their lives.
Regarding Sr. Mary Reina’s enormous influence as it connects to the use of her gifts, Sister was constantly honing her skills at watercolor and calligraphy, her two strengths as a practicing artist. The two for her were very much related as she used her calligraphic lines in the scenes she painted. This was a technique she taught, and if her students caught it, their work was so much the stronger. After her “re-tiring”, that is, getting new tires for continuing her journey, she taught informal classes to several different groups—the children at NDUEC, a small group of Sisters, and a group of friends. After playing cards at recreation, Sister often turned to practicing a technique or creating a paper sculpture, etc., that she could teach one or other of these groups. Sister made dozens of greeting cards over the years for Sisters, family members, and friends. One can imagine that many recipients of these little gems may well be bringing them out now to admire and show to friends.
How much more could be recorded by those of us who have lived with Sister over the years—so many entertaining accounts of her little adventures in life. Just a few here. The cook would often serve “soft boiled eggs” for breakfast. These were, in fact, barely “having-been-there” in terms of boiling. Sr. M. Reina would, on such occasions, put them in an ample pocket and take them down to the art department to finish boiling on her little burner. Needless to say, this was courting danger. Yes, one morning she forgot about the egg and sat on it. Messy lesson learned.
As many will recall, Sister kept a dog, Barney, in the art department with her for safety and companionship in the hours she spent there alone. However, there were times when she wanted to work without her furry guardian angel who shadowed her everywhere. Resourceful as always, Sister’s solution was to walk over to the provincial center, St. Joseph Heights, and leave him at a side door. She would then walk through the building to another door and return to the academy without Barney seeing her.
Sister M. Reina’s store of stories was quite well stocked, and she could move from one story to the next with much glee. How we will miss that run-on of sparkling wit and giggles! That's why we think that her stories will continue to be retold in the context of singing God's praises, to the delight of her God and all her family members and friends. But don’t forget, Sister M. Reina, to take a breath or two, to pray for all of us on this side of eternity. Actually, we’re pretty sure you won’t forget. How could you, after having been with us for nearly 99 years?