Sister Mary Regis O’Kane
“Lord, help me live my life for thee, to think of others instead of me, and help me give my very best without regard for need of rest, until I’ve run the race you’ve set, and every righteous goal is met.” (a favorite prayer poem of the late Sister Mary Regis O’Kane)
“Sister Mary Regis left a prayer poem [excerpt above] that she wanted read at her wake, and it would take someone stronger than I to ignore those wishes. The poem tells us something about the source of the strength that kept her on the way for 92 years,” said Sister Mary Roger Madden in her commentary for Sister Mary Regis O’Kane, who died Jan. 16.
The only child of James Francis and Zilda Gion O’Kane, Marie Eva O’Kane was born Oct. 14, 1912, in Dudley, Mass. She attended St. Rose Grade and High schools in Chelsea, Mass. She entered the Congregation July 25, 1929, and professed first and perpetual vows March 1, 1932, and Aug. 15, 1937, respectively. Sister Mary Regis earned a bachelor’s degree in education from Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College and a master’s degree in education from Indiana University.
Sister Mary Regis’ “ministry was focused unequivocally on the education of the child,” continued Sister Mary Roger. “She spent her entire ministerial life as an educator and from the time of her final vows taught only seventh- and/or eighth-grade students. Among her students, she numbered several future priests and religious brothers.”
Sister Mary Regis began teaching in 1932 at St. Angela, Chicago. Her other Illinois classrooms included St. Athanasius and Marywood, Evanston, and St. Genevieve, Chicago. In Indiana, her missions included St. Joan of Arc and St. Philip Neri, Indianapolis; Sacred Heart, Evansville; St. John, Loogootee; Holy Trinity, New Albany; and St. Patrick, Terre Haute. Sister Mary Regis spent 17 years on the East Coast at Sacred Hearts, Malden, and St. Patrick, Stoneham, Mass.; and Ascension, Halethorpe, Md.
“Sister Mary Regis had a deep devotion to the rosary and to the mother of God under the title Mother of Confidence. She returned to Saint Mary-of-the-Woods in 1978 and took over responsibility for the Our Lady of Providence Association and the Blessed Sacrament Association, operating out of a little office at the end of the corridor near the old Our Lady of Providence Shrine,” said Sister Mary Roger.
In 1985, Sister Mary Regis retired and volunteered her time as the Owens Hall phone room operator, a ministry she performed for 10 years.
“Sister Mary Regis was a strong woman. All of those years of teaching junior high were bound to leave their mark. She was an avid reader with an interest in the affairs of the Church and the world. She knew what she thought, and she knew how to express it. Perhaps because she had no brothers or sisters, nieces or nephews or even, as far as we know, cousins, she gathered to herself many steadfast sister-friends. Their loyalty to her over the years was notable, although she has outlived most of them. Even in her last days in Mother Theodore Hall, she could be seen sitting quietly by the bedside of a sister in need of a comforting presence,” continued Sister Mary Roger.
The Mass of Christian Burial for Sister Mary Regis was celebrated Jan. 19, with the Rev. Daniel Hopcus presiding.
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