Dominican Sister Mary Regis Nuva retires

Roxanne King

Dominican Sister Mary Regis Nuva died Sept. 22. An obituary will be posted later today. The story below is about Sister Regis’ retirement last week from nursing.          

After more than 60 years of providing nursing care to the poor, sick elderly of the Denver metropolitan area, Dominican Sister Mary Regis Nuva, 86, a registered nurse, is retiring from nursing. Those who were fortunate to work alongside her or to be a patient under her loving care witnessed the true meaning of Jesus’ new commandment outlined in John 13:34—“to love one another as I have loved you.”

“To be a nurse is a gift,” said Sister Regis who “wouldn’t change a thing” about having the opportunity to serve the community’s most marginalized. The 92-year-old charity agency, now called Dominican Home Health Agency, has always provided free, quality nursing care and health-related services to the poor, sick elderly in their homes. Dominican Sister Mary Regis Nuva in 1968.

“We were guests in their homes and treated each patient with respect, honor and dignity. That was the essence of it. It’s really so simple, actually,” said Sister Regis, a past recipient of the Hiawatha Davis Jr. Humanitarian Award.

In 1923, four Dominican Sisters of the Sick Poor, all nurses, arrived in Denver. These dedicated missionaries would leave their Gaylord Street convent each morning equipped with their nursing bag full of supplies, and walk or take public “street cars” into the poorest quarters of Denver to provide in-depth nursing care as well as empathy and encouragement. In 1989, the sisters turned management and governance over to a local board of directors. This important work continues today with a paid, professional, lay nursing staff.

“Our Denver community is so fortunate to have benefited from the fruits of the sisters’ good works for so many years,” said Mary Morroni, board chair, “and Dominican Home Health Agency is the continuation of their legacy, providing Catholic health care to ‘the least of these.’”

The Dominican Home Health Agency has established the “Sister Regis Nursing Care Fund” for patient care. Donations can be made online at www.dominicansisters.org or checks payable to “Dominican Home Health Agency” can be sent directly to the agency at 2501 Gaylord St., Denver, CO 80205. For more information, call 303-322-1413 or visit the website above.

COMING UP: New pipe organ installed at St. John Vianney Theological Seminary

Sign up for a digital subscription to Denver Catholic!

If a seminary’s primary role is to form the priests of tomorrow – a divine task – then it’s only fitting that the instrument used for adoration and worship during that formation be equally as divine in nature.

A brand-new pipe organ was installed at St. John Vianney Theological Seminary in January, replacing the electric organ that’s been there for the past 20 years. The organ contains over 1,500 individual pipes that fill Christ the King Chapel with the sounds worthy of an angelic choir and was custom-made by Kegg Pipe Organ Builders based out of Hartsville, Ohio. The organ cost $500,000 to build and was funded entirely by private donors.

The electric organ was in dire need of replacement after a dead squirrel was discovered in its components and was causing all sorts of malfunctions.

Pipe organs are a much more practical instrument to have than an electric organ, said Mark Lawlor, associate professor at St. John Vianney. Pipe organs last at least 100 years as opposed to the typical 20-year lifespan of an electric organ.

“We’d be buying four electric organs for [what will last 100 years],” Lawlor said.

More than just practical, there is a distinct difference in the sound produced by a traditional pipe organ versus an electric organ. Electric organ sounds are produced digitally; the pipes on a pipe organ are produced organically with air, similar to the way a human voice speaks, and in the case of the Kegg organ at the seminary, it allows for a wide range of sonic dynamics that allow the faithful to enter into more ardent worship.

Mark Lawlor performs on the new pipe organ installed in Christ the King Chapel at St. John Vianney Theological Seminary during the blessing ceremony Feb. 13. (Photos by Andrew Wright)

“It surrounds you with the sound,” Lawlor said. “But as loud as it can be, it can also be so hush, and so angelically soft.”

In addition to the organ’s principal sound, its console contains a variety of different knobs that enable the player to produce a wide range of sounds that fall within the woodwind family of instruments, from a clarinet to a flute. However, the organ also features a trumpet and a brighter-sounding pontifical trumpet, which Lawlor says he only plays for Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila and Cardinal J. Francis Stafford.

The six-man crew from Kegg built the organ at their workshop in Ohio, then essentially disassembled it, brought it to the seminary and rebuilt it there. They spent two weeks voicing each pipe individually so they all sound even.

It truly is a sight – and sound – to behold.

“It’s custom-made for [Christ the King Chapel], and that’s where the artistry comes in,” Lawlor said. “The master builder was the one who did that. He has great ears, knows what will fit the room and he did it specifically to the men’s voices.”

Christ the King Chapel is utilized many times in the weekly activities of the seminary – from seminarian formation to permanent diaconate formation to various retreats and workshops – which means that the organ is also used a fair amount in any given week.

What’s exciting to me is if you were a priest and graduated from [St. Thomas Seminary] in the 1950s, you will hear some of the same sounds as the guys in 2050, because we’re still using that organ. We’re tying the whole institution together.”

“We use [the organ] three to four times per day,” Lawlor said.

The organ is an integral part not only to the seminary, but also to the Catholic Church as a whole. Along with the voice, the organ is the preferred instrument for liturgical music. The way an organ functions is congruent with how the human voice functions, and they complement each other perfectly, Lawlor said. Plus, where else do you find an organ besides a church?

“You don’t hear the organ anywhere else, and that’s what makes it special,” Lawlor added.

The original St. Thomas Seminary had a pipe organ made by Kilgin that was replaced with the electric organ in 1997, but many of the original pipes were still intact and were used to construct the new organ. This organ contains 900 new pipes constructed by Kegg, while around 600 of the pipes are from the original 1930s Kilgin organ – meaning some of the same sounds from the 1930s are still being echoed throughout the seminary today.

“What’s exciting to me is if you were a priest and graduated from [St. Thomas Seminary] in the 1950s, you will hear some of the same sounds as the guys in 2050, because we’re still using that organ,” Lawlor said. “We’re tying the whole institution together.”