Sister Regina Krushen remembered through her art
By Nathan Rumohr
The B.C. Catholic
Two beautiful icons of St. Michael the Archangel and Our Mother of Tenderness now hang in Holy Rosary Cathedral. Painted by a nun who once used her own beauty as a model, they were donated to the Archdiocese of Vancouver.
The late Sister Regina Krushen, OSB, painted the icons while a living as a Benedictine sister in Colorado. Archbishop J. Michael Miller, CSB, blessed the two icons during Mass May 27.
Born Mary Jennifer Krushen in 1959, Sister Krushen worked as a model before feeling the call of the contemplative life.
"God can call you from wherever you are," said Sister Ancilla Armijo, OSB, a close friend of Sister Krushen. "Sister Regina enjoyed being a model, but her mother's death in 1985 awakened other possibilities." Sister Armijo said the trying experience allowed Sister Krushen to evaluate the meaning of her life. She said Sister Krushen felt compelled to draw closer to God and she became enthralled with the Benedictine lifestyle at Westminster Abbey in Mission.
Later, she chose to join the Benedictine nuns of the Abbey of St. Walburga in Virginia Dale, Colorado. "This was where God wished me to live out the rest of my life," she said after her first visit to the convent in 1991. She entered the Abbey in 1992.
Along with modeling, Sister Krushen was also an accomplished artist. She used her skills to paint many icons. "She left a legacy," said her father Larry Krushen. He saw Holy Rosary parishioners praying in front of the Icons immediately after the Mass ended. "That really got to me." Larry said he felt his daughter beaming down from heaven during the Mass.
Like many parents, Larry found it hard to reconcile his daughter's choice to join the religious life. "It felt like I lost a daughter when she announced her intention," he said. But the archbishop presiding over Sister Krushen's solemn vows helped put the situation into perspective. "The archbishop said, 'son, think of the Son-in-law you are inheriting.'"
After 11 years in the convent, Sister Krushen died from an incurable form of Lupus in 2003. Sister Armijo said the disease challenged Sister Krushen both physically and mentally.
More than 750 people came to Sister Krushen's funeral, even though she only served the community as a Benedictine sister for two years. She also left an impression on the community, according to Larry. "The novices today look up to her."
Sister Armijo said Sister Krushen was quiet but loved to serve as a guest mistress to visitors, especially when they were going through difficult times. She also credited Sister Krushen's work ethic. "She never let her illness stop her from doing her duties."
Archbishop Miller blessed the two icons after his homily. Larry, and Sister Krushen's siblings Karen, Julianne, Rick, and their families attended the Mass. The archbishop said Sister Krushen placed her artistic gifts in God's hands and produced works of great beauty and of great spiritual depth.
Larry said his daughter's icon works are also sold as greeting cards throughout the world. He said while her life was shorter than most, her legacy will live for a long time.