The following is an edited version of the eulogy for Sr Reina Loe Sack Sioe SJC who died August 1 at the age of 93. It was submitted by the Sisters of St Joseph of Cluny.
Reina was born on the July 29, 1928, to Reginald and Ethelda Loe Sack Sioe. Her parents at that time lived in Paradise Gardens, Tacarigua. She was the fifth of seven children and survived her twin sister, Madeleine who died at age nine.
She was educated at Mrs Attale School in Belmont for five years, followed by Nelson St Girls’ and St Rose’s Girls’ where she received a scholarship to St Joseph’s Convent, Port of Spain.
After graduating, she pursued a course in Stenography for three months and soon became employed as a typist then secretary with Hope Ross Ltd. At the age of 19, Reina entered the Congregation of the Sisters of St Joseph of Cluny and at our Novitiate in Arouca, received the name, Sister Cabrini of Mary.
After professing her first vows on August 27, 1949, Sr Reina was assigned to the Community of St Joseph. She taught at Curepe Girls’ RC Primary while pursuing her training to be a teacher at the Catholic Women’s Training College and graduated in 1950.
Sr Reina’s assignment as a qualified assistant teacher took her to St Vincent where she taught at St Mary’s RC Primary, then to St Joseph’s Convent Secondary School in Kingstown, St Vincent and the Grenadines; St Joseph’s Convent Secondary, Grenville, Grenada; and St Joseph’s Convent, Port of Spain.
Throughout her long years of successful and devoted service in our Cluny schools, she assumed various positions of responsibility— Principal of St Joseph’s Convent schools in St Vincent and Grenada, and Vice Principal and Dean of Discipline at St Joseph’s Convent, Port of Spain.
Many enjoyed being a part of Sr Reina’s life because of her outstanding giftedness in human relations. She had the knack of being able to reach out to others on a personal level giving her ministry that human touch and flavour.
Because of her personal interest in others, she successfully navigated difficult and challenging relationships in the classroom and in the workplace. She was appreciated by staff members for her warmth and loving concern for everyone.
Her past students remembered her as someone who always had a kind and encouraging word. This sense of personal concern for others led her to form lasting and meaningful relationships. One past student recalled being able to pick up the pieces of her life again because of Sr Reina’s love and friendship, which lasted 46 years.
Even among family members, she formed meaningful bonds. Her niece, Sr Annette M Mc Dermott SSJ (Congregation of the Sisters of St Joseph) recalls this about her: “We felt her love deeply in her personal handwritten letters that she used to write to many of us to praise us and affirm the best of who we were at that time and to gently encourage us to the more.”
She valued her relationships with the Sisters. At Christmas time, her Christmas gift to each one included a personal card which expressed her gratitude and the gift each Sister was to her.
Meeting Sr Reina for the first time often turned out to be quite a refreshing experience. Her sense of humour was contagious. At heart she was a comedian. She knew how to transform painful and awkward experiences into laughter so that one saw the other side to things.
She also understood the struggles of human life and was careful not to judge others harshly. Instead, she invited people to encounter a God who looked not so much at our sins but at our goodness. She mentored many through letter writing and conversations.
Like Blessed Anne Marie Javouhey, the foundress of the Sisters of St Joseph of Cluny, Sr Reina had the heart of a missionary. Her apostolic zeal went beyond the classroom to those on the fringes of society.
She organised community service programmes for her students at the Mental Home, St Dominic’s Home and homes for the aged. Her students still remember her missionary outreach to the people of Toco. After her retirement, she was ready to embark on another missionary adventure.
As a missionary, she had a keen sense on how to respond to the different needs of her time. When she arrived in Grenada, to assist at St David’s Secondary, she wasted no time in setting up a youth group in the neighbouring village of Corinth and a programme in Christian family values.
After realising how deeply affected the young were by the Marxist revolutionary ideology, she intervened by motivating and helping them to channel their energy and enthusiasm in the cause of justice and democracy.
When the call came for her to move out of formal education and take up a post at NEWLO (New Life Organization) giving hope to those children who had no further educational opportunity, she responded immediately.
Later, when a need was expressed for her to go to Dominica to spearhead another Servol-based programme entitled CALLS (Centre where Adolescents Learn to Love), geared to give a second chance to educationally less advantaged youth, she lost no time in shifting gears.
Anyone would have thought that in her late 80s this missionary zeal of hers would have waned, but not so with Sr Reina. There she was at the Abercrombie Tea Shop (Port of Spain) nourishing souls with her spiritual vitamins and inspiring others to remain steadfast on the spiritual journey.
She found a new missionary purpose in being a presence in prayer, attending to the needs of the poor who came at the gate and being available to assist where she could in the community.
In response to the Pope’s call to have Care for the Earth, Sr Reina took on a new ministry outreach in the proper disposal of waste which included recycling.
She was not only a missionary in words but by example. She lived her vow of poverty in solidarity with the poor. Many persons would have described her as abstemious as her wardrobe was often to bare minimum.
It consisted of “either/or”, as she often humorously stated. She did not cling to material things but held everything she owned and loved with a loose grasp.
To remember Sr Reina is to remember a woman who took her spiritual journey seriously but with joy. She lived moment by moment adding a touch of laughter and humour to it. Her love for God and people will always be remembered