Sister Regina Audrey Coll, CSJ
Filled we all come together today to celebrate Sister Regina Coll, formerly Sister St. Thaddeus, a Sister of St. Joseph for 76 faithful and vibrant years.
Regina was a woman of courageous vision in championing racial and gender equality and a woman whose voice was heard in diverse corners of our world. She was truly a woman ahead of her time.
Born to John and Alice Coll, Regina and her two siblings, Judy and John grew up in St. Agnes Parish, Brooklyn. Regina recounted that her mother chose that area because the “good Sisters of St. Joseph” taught in the parish school – what a wise woman!
The Coll household was known for its welcoming hospitality and lively parties animated always with a sense of the holy.
After graduating from Bishop McDonnell HS Regina entered the community with a heart on fire to serve the dear neighbor and to live life to the fullest
Regina spent 11 fruitful years teaching elementary school children in the Diocese of Brooklyn, then went on to teach high school in Sacred Heart Academy, the Academy of St. Joseph, Bishop Kearney and St. Pascal Baylon – with a detour in 1970 to serve as Principal in St. Anne’s, Brentwood.
Fd and vivid memories of Regina’s teaching career abound! Whatever the subject, with Math and Religion her specialty ( an absolute paradox to some.) Regina’s real gift was to instill in her students an enthusiasm for life. The life lesson was a deep appreciation of God’s presence and giftedness within each person and an ardent respect for the diverse expressions of their lived experience. All were called to be on fire with radical love and energy for the Gospel.
In 1965, empassioned by the pain of a world torn apart by divisive racism, Regina joined our Sister Eucharia and 25,000 people on the Selma to Montgomery March with Martin Luther King. This landmark event in America’s civil rights movement led directly to the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
Regina often reflected that while in Selma one of the daily Scripture readings was the story of the Transfiguration – and indeed, as she often said, “It was good for us to be there.” There was unity with God and the dear neighbor above all else.
Regina’s passion for inclusive love and her zeal for justice enflamed animated her ministry as Campus Minister locally in Kingsboro and Queens College and extended to her role as a renowned lecturer in India, Scotland, Canada and across America.
In 1984 Regina was called to her “Heaven on Earth” ministry with the Roaring Irish in Notre Dame, Indiana. For the next 30 years, through countless classes, lectures and writings, including authoring many books, Regina challenged contemporary women and our Church to reclaim traditional images and symbols. She believed firmly in incorporating feminism and culture into Christian theology and practice. This challenge was always done in a creative, non-threatening, respectful way ripe with practical application. Hers was a vision inclusive of all.
During her Autumn days – (the word Golden didn’t quite cut it for her) as Regina called her retirement, Regina remained teacher par excellence – her stories and reflections, humorous and profound, enriched everyone, especially those gathered in the dining room at Stella Maris. That was her gift.
Regina’s friendship with Dulcie, Aunt Dulcie, was renowned, supportive and quite hilarious at times. They offered a sacred arena of questions, challenges, good humor and WISDOM -always centered on each one’s personal and ardent love of God – and their lived ministry as Sisters of St. Joseph.
Two weeks after Dulcie died – at 6:20 pm – their sacred daily ritualized hour of their gathering for prayerful reflection, camaraderie and a good drink – Dulcie accompanied our God to take Regina home.
We can certainly be assured that Regina and Dulcie are now giving sound advice to God on how the Church and World should run!
Sister Regina Audrey Coll, CSJ, the former Sister St. Thaddeus, died on August 8, 2022 in the 76th year of her religious life.