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Living Hope Testimonial: “A Radiant Presence” at SHA

Living Hope Testimonials about the impact Sister Regina Marie had on her students have been coming in over the past few weeks and we're beyond excited to share them with you! This week's comes from Deanna Chiaro Nicoll.

Want to read more about just how Sister Regina was a Living Hope for all she touched? Head over to our the Living Hope page to read more of her incredible story.

Sister Regina Marie always had such a radiant presence, selflessness, compassion and a perpetual twinkle in her eyes.

If I was to pick the most influential person in my life, it would without any hesitation be Sister Regina Marie. I was beyond blessed to have her as a teacher during my four years at Sacred Heart Academy. One of her most admirable traits is that no matter what day it was, what was happening or who you were, she always welcomed you, as well as sent you off, with a smile on her face.

Sister Regina Marie always had such a radiant presence, selflessness, compassion and a perpetual twinkle in her eyes.

I was by far not the greatest artist in her class, but without exception, she made me, as well as every other student, feel that we were. Sister Regina Marie had such a warmth to her that her classroom was never just a class, but rather an oasis for artists.

It’s been 38 years since I walked into art class, but the love for art and knowledge of art history instilled within me by Sister Regina Marie has continued to influence who I am, even to this day. Despite that I had to surrender an art scholarship to Savanah College of Art and Design, art has remained a significant part of life. Regardless of where I am in the world, a trip to the local art museum, sculptures or statues, is inevitably on my list. I could sit and admire the masterpieces of Monet, Renoir or Seurat, to name a few, for hours…so lost in their work I’d be oblivious to any person or sound near me. That is my happy place!

Photo of Deanna's Family posing on front porch

Over the years, I have been told by many that I have an innate skill of design, colors and composition. I painted and drew in my spare time, but once I got married and had three lovely children, with some regret, I put my passion on the back burner. Over the years, I have shared my love of art with our 3 children and have encouraged them to appreciate art, provided them with various art mediums and welcomed their personal creativities. I’ve always made it a point to have an art table in any home that I have ever lived in, mostly for my kids to expand their minds through creative expression. I am excited to share that I recently bought a handful of canvases and paint brushes just for me!

I have also taken what Sister Regina Marie taught me and have shared it with hundreds of children over the last six years. I am a parent volunteer that teaches an art history class, 1-2 times a month, to K-8th graders. This brings me so much joy! I love to introduce an artist, share their story, show their work and then encourage the kids to create their own masterpiece in the spirit of that particular artist. To see their smiles after their work of art has been completed is priceless.

I often think of Sister Regina Marie as I prepare each lesson, as I teach it and I feel her presence as I walk around supporting their creative little minds.

On a personal note, my parents divorced during my high school years. Sister Regina Marie knew what was happening and I strongly believe she, through the love of art, pulled me through some of the darkest days. When my father sadly succumbed to cancer in 2004, Sister Regina Marie once again graced my world by unexpectedly attending my Dad’s funeral. It had been 18 years since I had seen her and my heart lifted, even on such a sad day, when I saw her enter the church. Unfortunately, due to the overwhelming loss on that day, I wasn’t able to truly visit with her or thank her for once again making my day, one of my toughest, a little brighter.

Sister Regina Marie, there are no words that accurately describe how much you have impacted me in every facet of my life. I thank you from the bottom of my heart for devoting your life to God, devoting your life to help mold young minds and for truly being a living angel in every aspect of the word.

With Love,

Deanna Chiaro Nicoll


Was Sister Regina Marie a sign of Living Hope in your life? Please consider a gift to support her during this particularly difficult year. 

Please support Sister Regina Marie and all of the Dominican Sisters. Join our mission to be a witness to living hope.

A gift from you provides:

  • hope & encouragement for our senior sisters;
  • equipment and supplies for protection for our sisters during the pandemic; and,
  • God’s love and acceptance for those we serve who feel isolated and abandoned by others.

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