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Ursuline Sister Regina Gagnier, who served 42 years in Diocese of Wilmington, dies at 104

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A group of Ursuline Academy Lower School students sing at Sister Regina Gagnier's farewell at the school in 2014. Photo courtesy of Ursuline Academy.

HASTINGS-ON-HUDSON, N.Y. — Sister Regina Gagnier, a member of the Ursuline Sisters who spent several decades in the Diocese of Wilmington, died March 17. She was 104 and had been a member of the congregation for 88 years.

Sister Regina entered the Ursulines in 1932 and pronounced her first vows three years later. She ministered in education at several schools, but, according to her congregation, she had a soft spot in her heart for Wilmington. She was stationed in the diocese three times for a total of 42 years.

Sister Regina Gagnier

She was principal of Ursuline Academy’s lower school from 1960-69 and later returned to teach there. In retirement, Sister Regina served as a Eucharistic minister at Christiana Hospital, and she continued doing admissions testing and tutoring at Ursuline well into her 90s.

For her 100th birthday in May 2015, Sister Regina returned to Wilmington to share a lunch with her sisters there. She also attended a school Mass, which ended with a large 100th birthday cake.

Ursuline Sister Betty McAdams, chairperson of the theology department at Ursuline Academy, said Sister Regina was dedicated to to her vocation, her family and her students. Sister Betty drove Sister Regina to New Rochelle, N.Y., when she retired.

“As she was leaving her beloved Wilmington, the school grounds were filled with students and faculty waving her goodbye. For her 100th birthday, I brought her down to Wilmington from New Rochelle for a special Mass and birthday celebration with the school. She loved every minute of it,” Sister Betty said.

Lisa Clody was the principal of the Lower School from 2010-15. She said Sister Regina would visit her daily to “make sure my office was working.” The students loved seeing her on campus, she said.

“When she moved out of the convent, our students stood on the sidewalk and waved goodbye with tears streaming down their faces,” Clody said.

“She was a gentle, loving soul with a quick wit,” she added. “She will be missed by the Ursuline community.”

The fine arts department at Ursuline was once located in the convent, teacher Kathi Beck recalled. That made it easy for Sister Regina to stop by.

“She would check on us daily, with her charm and wit, to make sure we were working. We loved her and will always value that we had her in our lives,” Beck said.

Sister Regina was a very prayerful person, Sister Betty said, and had a great devotion to the Blessed Mother. In her 80s, she made a pilgrimage to Medjugorje.

“She did tell me upon her return, ‘I know the Blessed Mother is there,’ meaning Medjogorje,” Sister Betty said.

In addition to her work in education, she served a term as provincial secretary for the Eastern Province Ursulines.

Sister Regina is survived by her Ursuline sisters and many nieces and nephews. There were no funeral services because of the coronavirus pandemic. She was buried March 20 in Gate of Heaven Cemetery, Hawthorne, N.Y. Memorial services will be scheduled at a later date.

Donations in Sister Regina’s memory can be made to Ursuline Academy Lower School, 1106 Pennsylvania Ave., Wilmington, DE 19806, or to the Ursuline Sisters’ Retirement Fund, 1338 North Ave., New Rochelle, NY 10804.