Living Hope

Living Hope_Regina Marie_Smile Image

What do you hope for this Christmas?  What is pulling on your heart strings? Sister Regina Marie Bernet has been a sign of living hope for hundreds of people for more than 65 years.

Sister Regina Marie’s magnetic smile attracted generations of art students at Sacred Heart Academy.

"They pulled on my heart strings. My goal was to let them know they were valued and loved by God," she said.  

She was a sign of Living Hope!

Will you join her in being a sign of living hope and love to our sisters this Christmas? 

Be a Living Hope for Others 

Amid the chaos in our world, where do we find an anchor of hope?


Sister Regina Marie simply can’t do this alone.

A gift from you today will help keep alive her mission to be a living hope to all in need.

For 25 years, Sister Regina Marie was a sign of living hope as she crossed boundaries into state prisons throughout central Illinois. She brought God’s love and acceptance to women and men shunned by society. Using her skill as an art therapist, she  helped dozens of imprisoned women grow in self-understanding, paving the way for more hopeful futures.

Art made it easier for the women to share painful experiences and then leave them as a distant memory, helping them to forgive themselves and others.

Be inspired by the stories of the women healed through Sister Regina Marie's ministry by clicking on the images below to enjoy these inspiring works of art. 

Will you help?

Please support Sister Regina Marie and all of the Dominican Sisters in 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.

We are grateful for your partnership in God's mission!

Sal Figueras has been a dedicated partner to Dominicans for most of his life. Listen to his story about how Sister Regina Marie inspired him with living hope.

Sister Regina Marie's Art Classes Inspired Generations

Pamela Markusson

Former Student of Sister Regina Marie

I have to thank Sister Regina Marie for my ability to be creative with cakes.  I say a prayer every time (I make a cake) for Sister Regina Marie.

Kimberly Steil Magowan

Former Student of Sister Regina Marie

My favorite class at Sacred Heart Academy was Art for four years with Sr. Regina Marie. I have many loving memories of her that come to mind.

Before every Art class she led us in prayer. That was probably what impacted me the most about Art. Sr. Regina Marie made it known through her faith, her words, actions, and instruction that God was the True Artist and we strive to learn so much from Him. She contributed to increasing the faith of all of her students through art. She taught us to appreciate our styles and to “autograph our works with excellence.”

Because of her knowledge, patience, kindness, and deep love for Christ, I am able to pass on those qualities to my students. As an Art teacher I try to model Sister Regina Marie’s style of planting seeds of Christ through Art as she had planted my seeds.

I am forever grateful for all of the knowledge I received from Sister Regina Marie. I believe that she has contributed to my formation as an Art teacher today at St. Agnes School. For that I will be forever grateful. I learned from the Best.

Susan Vono-Cain

Former Student of Sister Regina Marie

When I lost my husband back in 2011, Sister sent me this card.  I just wanted to share that this meant so much to me!!

sympathy card

Sister Regina Marie was one of my favorite teachers at SHG!  I loved art with all of my heart and her gentleness/expertise of teaching it just added joy to the learning experience!!!!!

Kimberly Steil Magowan

Former Student of Sister Regina Marie

Sister Regina Marie lifted me up so that I may lift others up. She affected my life with beauty. This makes her great.

I can only hope and pray that I can affect my students in the beautiful ways you affected me. Thank you Sister Regina Marie for the wonderful gift you were and still are to me.

Karen Bringle

Former Student of Sister Regina Marie

Sr Regina was not just an amazing artist, she was had so much patience with our assignments. I have attached some of my art work.  The portrait is my brother, that was from his Marine picture and a drawing of mine.

Deanna Nicoll

Former Student of Sister Regina Marie

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.

Michelle Londrigan

Former Student of Sister Regina Marie

If you are lucky, you have a teacher or mentor that holds a special place in your heart.  Mine is Sister Regina Marie.  I was one of her art students at SHA from 1982 – 1986.  As a teacher, I remember her as kind, patient and of course, an amazing artist.  As a spiritual mentor, watching her peacefulness and faith in God’s plan, impacts me to this day.  I have wonderful memories from my time as her student.  Her class projects were my favorite as some were fun and others challenged me and taught me to persevere.  During Christmas she would ask for volunteers to help organize gifts for the elderly in a local nursing home. Her students would always go above and beyond to help her mission.

After graduation, Sister had a new assignment, and I moved to the west coast.  Many years later, I moved back to Springfield and we reconnected.  Upon my first visit back to the motherhouse, she met me in the hall, and she was holding my senior picture with a smile.  I could not believe she still had my picture! Sister kept the pictures that were given to her throughout the years in a small box.  Every day she takes the top picture out and prays for that student.  How wonderful to know that she held us in prayer all those years.  My daughter graduated from SHG in 2018 and joins me on visits when she is in town.  We enjoy hearing stories about Sister’s love of teaching art therapy at the women’s prison and just catching up in general.   Sister never lets us leave empty handed as she gifts us with a personal sketch and a beautiful reflection.  Today we correspond by letter until safer times for visits and I always let Sister know when a family member is going in for surgery or special prayers are needed.  Sister has always been that special light in my life.  Upon every visit or letter, Sister reminds me to trust in God’s plan.  Knowing she is praying for us and the world during these turbulent times, brings me peace and hope.  

Peggy Derhake

Former Student of Sister Regina Marie

Sr. 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 Sr. 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. Sr. 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.

Sherry Ungashick

Former Student of Sister Regina Marie

I took Art all four years of High School with her and achieved the Golden Palette Award.  Sr. Regina Marie was my favorite teacher at SHA. No matter what kind of day you were having, it always got better when you walked into her classroom. She was always happy and welcoming. She encouraged her students and would find positive in their artwork even when they thought it wasn’t great. I learned that Art could be used to make others Happy. 

I see the theme is “Living Hope.”  It made me think of this photo that was taken my Senior Year and on the front page of the State Journal-Register.  I remember the great feeling I had that day being able to give love and hope to these kids. I wasn’t always the best artist, but In the eyes of these kids…I was! I thank Sr. Regina Marie Bernet for teaching us to use our talents for good.

Later in my life, I had a photography business for about 8 years. I loved taking family photos the most! It was not just posing and lighting, but making them feel comfortable and enjoying this time.

Families were everything!  I learned about Heart Galleries, where photographers would take portraits of kids in the Foster Care System. These portraits were beautifully framed and shown in galleries at churches around the city. It was a way for people to see the children and possibly look into adoption. I participated in this for several years and loved making these kids feel beautiful and special. I was thrilled when one of the kids I took photos of found her Forever Family! 

I hope that Sr Regina Marie knows that she touched many lives, not only in Art, but in the way she treated people. 

Cathy Sgro Boerke

Former Student of Sister Regina Marie

I typically do not have favorites in life when it comes to people. However, Sr. Regina Marie is an exception. Sr. Regina Marie's warmth, calmness and patience carried me through a transitional period in my life. The love she showed towards her students was unfailing and a source of strength. Her belief in me built my confidence which has helped carry me through my life. I will be forever grateful.

Angie Vose Greenwalt

Former Student of Sister Regina Marie

Sister Regina Marie was hands down one of the most special influential teacher in my high school years at Sacred Heart Academy. She was always so patient and kind. Always encouraged you to do your best. I really consider her a good friend and got together with her a couple of times after high school- she was still very encouraging! I was very lucky to have her as my art teacher for four years.

Living Hope: Unfolding the Life of Sister Regina Marie Bernet

Once, while reflecting on her response to God’s call, Sister Regina Marie wrote a series of refrains, each addressed to God with the opening words: “You called.” We use her words here to frame the remarkable story of her gift of living hope over decades of faithful ministry.

Come along for the journey as we fill out the refrain of her life.

Growing Relationships with the True Artist

By Sister Beth Murphy, OP | December 17, 2020

“You called. I answered and crawled out from under the burdens of life and began to embrace the creative budding of young ones opening the door to a new beginning.” ~Sister Regina Marie Bernet For the next 11 years of ministry, Sister Regina Marie trained dozens of art students in her studio at Sacred Heart […]

SHA art class of 1981

Living Hope Testimonial: Graced with Guidance

By Website Administrator | December 15, 2020

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. 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 […]

Image of young Sr Regina as a teacher

Teaching Baby-Boomers: Not for the Faint of Heart!

By Sister Beth Murphy, OP | December 10, 2020

“You called. I answered and entered the ministry of teaching…I survived only on your mercy and strength along with the wisdom of those around me.” ~Sister Regina Marie Bernet Photo provided by Peggy Derhake, Former Sacred Heart Academy Student After 18 months in formation, Marilyn made her profession of vows, took the name Regina Marie, […]

Living Hope Testimonial: “A Radiant Presence” at SHA

By Website Administrator | December 8, 2020

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 […]

Sister Regina Marie sitting at a table with female inmates

From a Loving Home…to Prison?

By Sister Beth Murphy, OP | December 2, 2020

How Did Springfield Dominican Sister Regina Marie Bernet go from being a sheltered child growing up in a loving home on Springfield’s North End to a sign of Living Hope for hundreds of students and families-then wind up in prison? That’s what we’ll explore as we unfold young Marilyn Bernet’s story, from her baptism at […]

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