Honoria Regan, known as Nora, was born on 9th September 1899 in Sturt Street, Ballarat, next door to the Bishop’s Palace. Her mother, Mary Ellen Underwood, was born in Elmhurst and met Nora’s father, Michael Regan, while he was working in the Education Department in Melbourne. Michael was born in Kerry and had run away to sea, settling in Melbourne. The couple were married in St. Patrick’s Cathedral Ballarat and Nora was their first child, the eldest of four. The family moved to Melbourne in 1904 and Nora and her siblings were educated at St. Paul’s Coburg and then the Catholic Ladies College in East Melbourne.
At the age of three Nora contracted rheumatic fever and spent six weeks in hospital and a year recuperating. This left her with a permanent weakness which seemingly never held her back.
In 1915 Nora was sent as a boarder to Sacred Heart College in East Ballarat where she matriculated. She trained as a teacher at the Sisters of Mercy’s Ascot Vale Training College and studied art at Our Lady’s College Heidelberg.
Following a long held desire to become a nun, she made the choice to join the Loreto Sisters, with whom her family had been associated in Ballarat, where she would continue her study of art under the tutelage of artist and teacher, Mother Catherine Goddard. On entering in 1922 she was at first given the religious name, de Chantal, and then Brendan which later became Brenda when nuns were allowed to choose their names.
Mother Brendan taught at Loreto Mandeville Hall Toorak and then, SS Peter & Paul’s South Melbourne but became ill and was transferred to Mary’s Mount Ballarat where she remained for the rest of her life. She was head of the Junior School as well as teaching music and art in the senior school.
In 1941 a Kindergarten was opened at Mary’s Mount with Mother Brendan in charge providing, for many years, early learning for Ballarat’s boys and girls. The Kindergarten was located on the site of what is now Loreto College Ballarat, and in the building that had been built as the parish primary school of St. Anne’s in 1908 and is now the Loreto Archives Centre. In 1962 the Kindergarten underwent considerable refurbishment. Mother Brendan remained in charge until 1948 and then, again in 1956 until 1972 when she retired from teaching.
During her retirement Sister Brenda contributed her handmade toys and gifts for community fetes and other Ballarat fundraisers. She made floral decorations, read widely and kept in contact with the many children she had taught during her over 55 years of teaching.
Brenda Regan died on 14th May 1987 at St. John of God Hospital.