We come here today to celebrate the life of Regina Blackwell, S. Marian Regina, a Sister of St. Joseph for almost 68 years.
Regina was born in Brooklyn to Maria Theresa and Joseph Blackwell. Maria Theresa was born in Scotland and Joseph was born Georgia but somehow they ended up together in the crossroads of the world- Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish in Brooklyn. Regina was one of nine children in the Blackwell family. Her brothers are Joseph, Ed, Andrew and Noel. Her sisters are well-known to us- Beatrice, S. Joseph Gabriel, Ernestine-S. Gerard Perpetua, Marie, a Trinitarian Sister. Joseph Miriam, and her twin S. Rosemary- her beloved sister and companion from before birth.
Regina attended OLPH elementary school and St. Joseph High School. She and Rosemary entered the congregation in 1953. I asked Rosemary who was born first. She told me that actually she, Rosemary, was born five minutes ahead of Regina so, until they entered the community, she was older. I was taken aback by this answer until she explained that because Regina’s name came first in the alphabet, she was placed before Rosemary in the list of their entrance group making her the elder.
Regina spent most of her ministry teaching the 1st and 2nd grades. She provided the all-important educational foundation for the lives of countless girls and boys as they learned the fundamentals of reading and the basic ABCs. It was said that Regina had the gift of being able to teach any student how to read.
Her classroom was filled with music. She taught the students songs as she played the piano to accompany them. The students learned hymns as well as Broadway show tunes. Music always played an important part of Regina’s life. Even as Regina and Rosemary were traveling to get the COVID vaccine a few weeks ago, they regaled their car mates with a medley of tunes.
Regina and Rosemary are mirror twins frequently meaning one is right handed and the other left handed. Rosemary said that she would tell Regina- I am right handed and you are wrong! Their bond was undeniable and mutually supportive. Rosemary, know of our prayers for you in your great loss.
A week ago last Friday, the council visited Sacred Heart Convent where Regina spent her last days. At that time, Regina was telling us how she was praying for us and of her gratitude for the congregation.
Regina, the congregation is grateful for you, your ministry, and your service.
Sister Regina Blackwell, CSJ died on May 27, 2021 in the 68th year of her religious life.