“I do not fear the obstacles and difficulties that I may have to encounter when I follow the direction of my superiors. Either to suffer or to do’. I have indeed encountered problems and they are still far from being smoothed out, but now at the words of your Reverence, I shall go ahead with new courage and firm confidence that our Lord will make me triumph over all obstacles and that he will lend me finally to these dear Missions for which I would willingly sacrifice my life.”
~~Mother Veronica, the Servant of God~~
Mother Veronica, nee Sophie Leeves, was born in 1823 in a pious, cultured, English, Anglican family. She was gifted with singular talents of mind and heart which were nurtured by sound education and wide experience. In spite of her mother’s strong opposition, she embraced the Catholic faith in 1850. God took possession of her heart so powerfully that she first broke off her engagement to a Marine Officer, whom she loved, and then responded generously to the call to Religious life. She entered the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Apparition in 1851, taking the name, Sister Mary Veronica of the Passion.
Mother Veronica was ardent and full of zeal to work for the mission in India, when she was sent to found a house of the Congregation at Calicut in 1862. She responded to an inner call and under the guidance of Father Marie Ephrem O.C.D., discovered her vocation to found a Third Order Regular of Active Carmelites to serve the need of faith formation through education of young girls of the West Coast of India. After receiving the required permission from Rome, Mother Veronica founded a Carmel for the Mission at Bayonne France on 16th July 1868.
The first group of Apostolic Carmelites arrived in India in 1870 and were established in the Diocese of Mangalore. Unfavourable circumstances obliged Mother Veronica to close the Convent at Bayonne in 1873, after which she re-entered the Carmel of Pau as a cloistered Carmelite. After a period of twelve years in the new foundation at Bethlehem, Mother Veronica returned to Pau in 1887. Her life of loving surrender to God in challenging circumstances culminated in her holy death in 1906.> Mother Veronica’s heroic obedience to the will of God, her life of profound faith and prayer, her wholehearted committed to the Cross, her outstanding humility and zeal for the Missions remain an inspiration to all those who, following the footsteps of Christ, seek to offer their lives in loving service of humanity specially the less privileged.
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