sister regina catherine brandt
March 6, 1910-July 12, 2012
A Life Given Totally to God
S. Regina Catherine Brandt was born in St. Louis on March 6, 1910, the first born daughter of William and Catherine Schmidtner Brandt and named Mary Johanna. She and her younger sister Anne developed a strong sisterly bond. "My parents were firm, yet so loving that the thought that perhaps they did not love us never crossed our minds," she said, recalling her happy childhood.
She met the Sisters of St. Joseph at St. Anthony’s grade school. After graduating from St. Anthony’s high school, she worked at Robert Gaylord, Inc., and became a proficient writer and typist, gifts she used throughout her life. During these working years, she said, she "suddenly seemed to fall in love with the Lord." Enthralled and in love with God, she noted, "One day the feeling came over me that I wanted to belong entirely to God." In 1930 after much prayer and direction, she entered the community that fit her longings perfectly, the Sisters of St. Joseph.
After her profession in 1933, she taught at Sacred Heart in Indianapolis for seven years. In 1939, she was missioned to Hawaii, thus beginning her 28 year stint among the Hawaiian people. The mission had just opened the previous year. Her assignments were teaching on the elementary school level and serving as principal—all on Oahu: at St. Theresa’s, St. Joseph’s and St. Anthony’s. "The early years," she said, "truly seemed like a missionary venture. Many people there were baptized but few knew anything about their Catholic faith. It became very evident that nothing we did or said could bring a person to Christ. It was only God who could do this with His grace, and He did it individually, one by one."
When Hawaii became a vice province in 1956, S. Regina Catherine was appointed the first vice provincial. She wrote, "All I can say is I asked God to take care of the vice province and He did. I was only His instrument."
After a year of study in 1962 in St. Louis to obtain her master’s degree in secondary education administration, she returned to Hawaii and became the education consultant and associate superintendent of schools for the Diocese of Honolulu. In this role, S. Regina traveled the islands, visited all the schools and, after having lived there for 26 years, finally saw the volcanos on the big island for the first time. She returned to the mainland in 1967 and spent one year as principal at St. Vincent School in Los Angeles, where her parents were living. She returned to St. Louis with her father after her mother’s death and moved into St. Anthony’s where she taught the eighth grade and was administrator of the convent for the next five years.
Eventually S. Regina was invited to help staff the House of Prayer in Ferguson. The three years in that role were among her happiest. Daily prayer, helping with retreats, and assisting sisters to a deeper union with God were a natural bent for her.
S. Regina Catherine went to Nazareth in 1992 at age 82, believing she had but a few years to prepare herself for her final journey home. God had much more in mind. While her body may have been frail, her keen mind thirsted for knowledge. She engaged actively in book clubs and discussion groups, played a strategic game of bridge, and kept abreast of Church teaching and the new cosmology. She also had a wonderful memory for history, but more than that, a delightful way about her as she remembered and retold her stories. Who has not heard her tales of wartime in Honolulu? She never preached, but loved all persons into goodness, a role model for the rest of us.
S. Kathleen Karbowski
S. Rita Louise Huebner