Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta


Visitation Sister Mary Regina Beckley dies 

Published July 12, 2022

SNELLVILLE–Sister Mary Regina, VHM, died Sunday, June 12. She was 88 years old.  

She was born Sara Beckley on April 19, 1934 in New York City. She was baptized on May 20, 1934, at St. Anastasia Catholic Church in Teaneck, New Jersey. Her parents were Earle J. Beckley and Margaret Crawley. Her mother was a teacher, and her father worked his entire career for the Borden dairy company. Her grandfather owned a dairy farm on which Sara, her brother John and cousin Betty often spent summers, leaving her with a life-long love of cows. 

Sister Mary Regina Beckley, VHM

Education was important in Sara’s life. After high school graduation, Sara attended Seton Hill College for two years, then Caldwell College for Women, receiving a Bachelor of Arts in English. 

Sara had wanted to become a nun from her earliest years and entered the Caldwell Dominicans, a teaching community, as a postulant in 1957. She taught sixth grade math, science and English at Our Lady of the Visitation School in Paramus, New Jersey from 1959-1961. She also spent time at the Dominican Monastery of Our Lady of Grace in Connecticut, where a relative was prioress. Discerning that this was not yet her vocation, Sara left the monastery. She became a missionary in Liberia, and between 1968 and 1970 taught sixth through ninth grade English, history and science there. 

Sara still longed to give herself fully to God as a nun. In 1971, at age 37, she contacted the Visitation Monastery in Atlanta and was received, taking the name Sister Mary Regina. 

During her first years in the Atlanta monastery, which was housed in a converted mansion, the community bought property in Snellville to build a new monastery. On Aug. 15, 1974, she became the first sister to make her solemn vows in the new monastery, Maryfield.  

Sister Mary Regina was devoted to Mary and the infant Jesus. One of her favorite saints was St. Gertrude. Besides her life of prayer, Sister Mary Regina contributed to the physical operation of the monastery. She bush hogged the whole property with a tractor and had several vegetable gardens. She built the Nativity mangers used in the chapel and community room at Christmas, as well as other woodwork. She also served the community as a refectorian. 

In 1982, Sister’s mother became ill and needed care. Sister Regina was granted permission to leave the monastery to care for her mother. During that time, Sister earned New Jersey teaching certificates, and a master’s degree in education in 1987. After her mother died in late 1991, she returned to the monastery to resume her primary vocation of prayer. 

Sister Mary Regina is remembered by family and friends for her dry humor. She would tell the monastery community about her adventures in Liberia, including the time a lion came into her dwelling while she hid in the closet. 

Sister suffered for many years from pain. She spent much of the last 20 years in a wheelchair. Her death on the Feast of the Most Holy Trinity, was peaceful, in the presence of her sisters.