Sisters of Notre Dame…Missioned to Incarnate the Love of our good and provident God

Sister Mary La Reina

Sister Mary La Reina              ND 5931            PDF Download
Colette Marie Kelly

Rosa Mystica Province, California, USA

Date and Place of Birth:           July 30, 1943         Los Angeles, California
Date and Place of Profession: August 17, 1964    Los Angeles, California
Date and Place of Death:         June 8, 2017          Kaiser Permanente, Woodland Hills, California
Place of Burial:                                                           Assumption Cemetery, Simi Valley, California

To act justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with God

Colette Marie Kelly was born on July 30, 1943, the third child and second daughter of William and Regina Lennemann Kelly.  Colette grew up in Holy Spirit Parish in Los Angeles.  She later wrote: “We were staunch Catholics with liturgies and services being part of the fabric of our lives.”  In 1957, Colette followed her older sister Mary’s example and enrolled in Notre Dame Academy in west Los Angeles.  During her junior year and senior years, she volunteered as an aide at St. John’s Hospital in Santa Monica.  As a result, she seriously considered becoming a nurse.  God, however, had other plans.  Following her graduation in June 1961, Colette entered the Sisters of Notre Dame in Hidden Valley.  She was invested the following August and received the name Sister Mary LaReina.

As a teacher and administrator in elementary schools in both northern and southern California, Supervisor/Religion Coordinator in the Department of Catholic Schools for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, president of Notre Dame Academy Elementary School and, lastly, president of La Reina High School, Sister Mary LaReina had many opportunities to develop her gifts and talents.  Her art was in education.  She was committed to the Mission of Jesus and regarded each ministry as an opportunity for growth for herself as well as for those with whom she collaborated.

Sister Mary LaReina was deeply committed to community life and celebrated the “oneness, family spirit and joyful simplicity” which she experienced in Notre Dame.  She was a faithful presence at community prayers, meetings and gatherings.  Even when her health began to fail due to a stroke and on set of Parkinson’s, Sister seldom missed Morning and Evening Prayer and the daily Eucharistic Liturgy.  She had the ability to see the good in each sister.  One sister remarked: “I never heard her say an unkind word about anyone.”

Sister’s interests were wide ranging.  She enjoyed classical music and the songs of the 50’s, reading a good mystery, walking on the beach with Sister Mary Rebekah, watching the late afternoon news and attending the summer concerts and fireworks at the Hollywood Bowl.  She was an avid fan of the evening game shows.  As one sister commented, “I learned early on that she was in charge of the remote.  One minute we could be watching “Law and Order” and then the next second it would be a Dodger game.  She was fast with her channel surfing.”

As president of LaReina High School, Sister made an effort to attend almost every sports function – soccer, tennis, volleyball and basketball games – in order to cheer the girls on.  Her favorite by far, though, was the cross-country track meets.

Sister Mary La Reina especially valued her participation in provincial leadership.  Visits to Rome, Uganda and Brazil strengthened her awareness of the Congregation’s internationality.  “I absolutely believe in our internationality,” Sister wrote, “as being a living, dynamic witness to being God’s goodness and provident care to all people in our ONE world.  This is not a concept but an embraced reality.”

It was this profound belief of God’s good and provident care for herself and others that enabled Sister Mary LaReina to walk the final years of her life journey with patience, grace and dignity.  In the late afternoon of Thursday, June 8, 2017, she quietly slipped home to God.  Sister Mary LaReina will be missed by everyone who knew her as a sister, an educator, a companion and a friend.

May she rest in peace.

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