Sister Nanine Tuller

We Remember, We Celebrate, We Believe

Sister Nanine Tuller

June 20, 1934 – June 8, 2016

“I see the way of the artist as a kind of pilgrimage.” Frederick Frank                                                                                                                                                        Author ,Artist

In an article written by Nanine and published in SOUNDINGS in 1993, Nanine quotes Frederick Frank, an author and artist. He writes “I see the way of the artist as a kind of pilgrimage. When you go on a pilgrimage you set out from where you happen to be and start walking toward a place of great sanctity in hope of returning from it renewed, enriched and sanctified.” In applying for a sabbatical in 1994 Nanine was motivated by two desires – first to deepen and enrich her professional background, and secondly to draw apart from her daily activity as an art teacher in order to find space and time to focus on her spiritual and artistic needs. For this sabbatical opportunity, Nanine was full of gratitude to the Congregation. Upon completing her sabbatical, her “pilgrimage”, renewed, enriched and sanctified, Nanine continued teaching art feeling that whatever she learned during her sabbatical time should be imparted to her students. She wanted to set them on their own “pilgrimage” as artists.

Although Nanine would tell us that she was not born with a paint brush in her hand. It has been said, her mother, who was an artist, kept one very close to her crib. From a very early age, encouraged by her mother to express her artistic yearnings in a creative way, Nanine learned to appreciate and love art. Upon graduating from Mass College of Art, Nanine entered the Sisters of St. Joseph in 1957 who according to Nanine, the Congregation encouraged and utilized her training and enthusiasm for art.

Our reading this evening from the prophet Jeremiah is reflective of one who understood the role of the potter.  Sometimes the clay that the potter was shaping was marred in his hands, so the potter forms it into another pot, shaping it as “seemed best to him.” I think Nanine understood this not only in relation to her own pottery but how her life- through God’s grace, her family, her Community ,her friends and students was continually shaped and reshaped until it, her life, seemed best to God. Early last Wednesday morning God called Nanine home because she “seemed best to Him”.

As we listen to St. Paul’s letter to the Corinthians in a few minutes, we will hear about the many different gifts of the Spirit. Even though we all possess different gifts, for everyone, it is the same God who is at work in us. Not all of us have the same gifts but whatever gifts God has given us are not ours to cherish for ourselves, but each gift is given for the common good. Nanine was very generous with her gifts. Gifts were shared in the classroom, with the Congregation and beyond. She never refused a request to share her creativity and artistic gifts with the Congregation and the “dear neighbor”, all for the honor and glory of God. Our Communion hymn this evening Take, Lord, Receive is based on St. Ignatius’, Suscipe’ prayer. It seems to me, that this prayer was often Nanine’s prayer “You have given all to me, take Lord, receive all I have, your love and your grace are enough for me.”

In the last line of our Gospel reading this evening which is the Magnificat, Mary’s “yes” to God, we will hear that “Mary stayed with Elizabeth for three months and then returned home.” How fortunate we all have been to have Nanine stay with us as a Sister of St. Joseph for fifty –nine years. Nanine’s pilgrimage as an artist is over, but her memory will live on in her art students who have set out on their own “pilgrimage” walking toward a place of great sanctity. Nanine lives on in the hearts and memories of Barbara, Nanine, Russell and their families who she loved so dearly and of whom she was so proud. For us as Sisters of St. Joseph and Associates, Nanine will live on every time we send a memorial card with one of her paintings and calligraphy, when we look at the stained glass windows she designed, when we use a pottery design of her creation.

Although Nanine’s life was not long enough for us, the Sisters of St. Joseph and Associates or for Barbara and her family, let us rejoice with Nanine that her earthly pilgrimage is over and she has arrived at her place of “great sanctity”, eternal life.

Given by: Patricia E. McCarthy, CSJ