She may not be on campus daily, but her spirit remains, especially in the guidance office. Sister Regina Brennan, a longtime fixture of the Saints community, quietly retired in June after 44 years at Saint Raphael Academy. 

On Thursday, a group of faculty and a handful of local alumni waited patiently in the White Building to honor a pillar of the Saints community who has had a profound and lasting impact on generations of students at the Academy. 

Malaina Murphy, director of guidance and a member of the class of 1985, spearheaded the effort to pay tribute to her mentor. After all, it was Sister who first let her know about the job opening at Saints. Malaina felt it was appropriate to recognize Sister’s contributions to Saints students in a more permanent way. 

With the look of surprise on Sister Regina’s face when she entered the White Building, it was clear she had no idea why she was really asked to come to campus. Dressed most appropriately in purple, she greeted former students with hugs and smiles. 

Malaina led her to the hallway, to reveal a sign proclaiming the Sister Regina Brennan Guidance Center. The sign is displayed above a picture of Sister’s most famous quote: “You never know what it is like at someone else’s breakfast table,” a gentle reminder to encourage kindness and understanding for others’ situations that may always not be apparent. It is just as relevant now as it was 44 years ago. Sister was visibly touched at the sight.  

The gesture doesn’t even begin to encompass the enormous amount of love that Saints have for her. 

“She was a friend when you needed her, she was a listener when you needed her, she was someone you knew who truly cared about you in the school,” said Amy Garces ’94, who is also administrative assistant in the East office. She said, like herself, students didn’t even need to have her for a guidance counselor; they were welcomed any time. “I sat many times in Sister’s office. Her door was always open, her chair was always there. She is the heart and the faith of the school,” she said. 

Sister Regina entered the Sisters of Mercy in 1960 and spent a few years in educational settings before coming to Saints. She said she knew the first time she saw students walking back and forth on campus in 1978 that this was the right place for her.  She helped create and organize ECHO (Encountering Christ in Others), an annual weekend-long retreat for seniors designed for them to experience the need for Christ in their individual lives and see Christ in the lives of others. In addition, Sister Regina organized career explorer programs, in which alumni return to campus to discuss their careers with juniors and sophomores. 

Another expression of the enormous amount of love former students have for her is the Sister Regina Brennan Living Legacy Fund, a scholarship sponsored by alumni in honor of her lasting friendship and commitment to Saints students. The fund provides scholarship assistance to families experiencing financial hardship and supports the ECHO retreat. 

Sister Regina, along with Terry Murry, who also retired in June after 40-plus years, were the guests of honor at a farewell dinner that many alumni and friends attended over the summer. “An absolutely amazing gift. A treasure,” said Sister of the event. She was surprised that numerous people recanted advice she had given them years ago, including the breakfast table quote. As Sister doesn’t have social media accounts, Malaina and fellow alumna and colleague Kristen Murphy ’02 had created a scrapbook of the hundreds of comments and well-wishes that former students wrote to Sister when her retirement was announced.

She had such a positive influence with students that many alumni get a misty look in their eyes as they recall what she means to them.  

“She’s a safe place. Sister always made you feel safe, no matter what you shared with her, she was going to help you no matter what the problem, no matter what the situation,” said Kerry Needham ’91. “She always had something positive to say, there were never any negatives … there was just support all the time—and love.”