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Living Hope Testimonial: Graced with Guidance

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 Peggy Derhake.

Want to read more about 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.

SHA art class of 1981

Having taken art during all four of my years at Sacred Heart Academy, I was graced with the guidance and tutelage of Sister Regina Marie Bernet.

If you're interested in helping the Dominican Sisters continue to guide those in need, consider making a donation here to help support Sister Regina Marie and the Dominican ministries around the country and in Peru.

Some of the projects that I remember doing include:

  • a straight-on magazine image of a face. We cut the magazine picture straight down the middle so it was a half of a face. We had to draw the part of the face that was now missing free-handed, and then complete the drawing underneath the magazine picture by flipping the clipping back and forth to develop our eye.
  • Creating a sculpture out of clay. Mine turned out to be a bust of Benjamin Franklin, complete with a pipe.
  • Create color wheels. We chose a silhouette image, cut out 12 of those shapes, and painted them with mixed poster paints to show the relationships between colors. We learned primary, secondary and tertiary colors. I still have mine.
  • Other projects included album covers, print making, pointillism, calligraphy and self portraits, to name a few.

When asked her advice on a piece on which you needed a critique, her favorite reply was, “It’s coming.” We all knew that she was being nice when she really didn’t like some part of what you had done. We used to joke about that amongst ourselves.

One particular story that I remember is one involving poster paint. The art room was in the lower level of Siena Hall. There was a large storage closet behind Sister Regina Marie’s desk that she kept her art supplies in. It was a long narrow closet with wire shelving that held all sorts of artist tools; anything from paint brushes, brayers, inks, papers, card stock and paint containers. The poster paints were in large gallon jugs with pumps on them, limiting the amount that one could extract at one time. They were lined up on a shelf so that we could go in and add paint to our palettes.

One day, Sister Regina Marie and I were in the closet because I couldn’t get the black paint to come out. It was clogged. She and I were working on it diligently, and in one moment, I had hit the pump really hard. It sent black paint scattering all over the both of us, but Sister got the worst of it! And it was all over her white habit! We looked at each other, me in astonishment, because I didn’t know if she would be mad at me or not. She burst out laughing! I was so relieved she thought it was funny! We had a great laugh that day!

Hence, her signature in my Senior scrapbook…

Image of young Sr Regina as a teacher

May God continue to bless you with the joy you give to others. Don't forget to check on us periodically.

Sr. Regina Marie

P.S. If we ever need someone to design a polka-dotted habit, I'll give you a call!

Senior year, Sister Regina Marie chose me along with a few other students to attend a weekend workshop in Springfield. We visited a handful of Springfield art studios to experience what artists in our area did to create their art. We created handmade paper, metal sculptures and other creations to give us an idea of what the local art scene consisted of.

Image of Golden Palette Award certificate

I was the recipient of the “Golden Palette Award” Senior year. It was presented to the students who completed and displayed a number of their best pieces of art in a special exhibit every year. Sister Regina Marie was an encouragement to me in this huge undertaking as an 18 year-old.

Sister Regina Marie was definitely influential in my artist’s journey. During my professional career, I have somehow kept a string of creativity alive because of her. I have been a department store display manager, an embroidery designer, a sign artist, and a graphic designer to name just a few.

After she left SHA, I know that Sister Regina Marie was director of a program for children who experienced the divorce of their parents, and also worked as an art therapist. I can’t tell you how her influence in my art journey has helped me through my own divorce. Her belief and encouragement in my abilities in high school were definitely instrumental in my self-confidence and healing. If it weren’t for her, I don’t know if I would have picked up my art supplies again. I have even sold some of my pieces in recent years.

Even though we haven’t spoken in several years, there have been a few email exchanges between us. I don’t know how she got my email address, but what a pleasant surprise! And in so doing, she shared with me that she had written a book. I immediately bought it. It is filled with artwork, poems and prayers that she has written over the years that go with scripture. I will treasure it always.

Sister Regina Marie Bernet is a gentle, loving and compassionate soul who was a huge influence in not only my creative life, but also my spiritual life. And I thank God for her gifts because she brought out the best of my gifts.

Peggy Derhake

SHA Class of 1981


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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