August 2022 - December 2022

A Glimpse of Virtous Life of Mother Veronica

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Devotion to Duty

APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

Mother Veronica has reached her destination Rangoon. She keenly observed the situation of the mission for a week. She is definitely sad to enter into such a messy state. Even before her arrival here she had heard of the unpleasant dis-edifying reports of the community. She confirms of this and seriously takes up the challenge before her. On June 28, 1864 she pens her first experience to the Superior General Mother Emilie Julien. The tenor of her letter is one of resignation for 'obedience is her life.' We listen to her, "I believe Mother that our Lord permits that you should send me to places where our sisters have difficulties, and where order has to be restored before anything can be done." (A Life in Letters page (p) 263)

Astute Animator

APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

Mother Veronica gifted with keen perception, presumed the cause for sisters' revolt. She attributes the very disastrous slackening of the community life due to the long absence of the superior from the community for four months, and the interference of the unauthorized authority of a lay person in community affairs. Mother Veronica comprehends the situation, empathizes with the community and exercises considerable soft approach as she reports to Mother Emilie Julien, "And yet the poor sisters who are here... have the best possible goodwill to live as true religious and observe the rule and constitutions. "Again, she tells the superior general, "It is a pity that a lay person should have been involved in the affairs of a religious house," It is a warning note to all! (A Life in Letters p. 264,266)

Ability to Maneuver Critical Situation

APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

Mother Veronica taking control of the past situation of her community says, "In future we shall live as religious." The Ordinary of the diocese (Rangoon) had shown little concern about the sisters and orphans. His insisted that all the earnings of sisters from school, needle work and other sources to be handed over to him. He would give to the sisters what they required to maintain themselves. This situation is not much different today in some of our missions. The daring forthright nature of Mother Veronica spoke to the bishop on behalf of her community. This is what she communicates to Mother Emilie Julien, "I answered by showing him the Constitutions and made him read Chapter XI on the General Emergency Fund. Monsignor was very displeased about that and told me he did not want me to send anything to Europe; if I were to send you the balance of what we earn from school etc.., he would take measures… he would no longer want us, and he would call other religious. I answered that our Constitutions demanded... I had to do my duty, as our Constitutions demanded of me." (A Life in Letters p. 264-65.)

Flame of Carmel Ignited

APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

Transfer from one country to another or change of situation does not quench Mother Veronica's desire for Carmel. It is noted in her letter of August 1, 1864 from Rangoon to Father Syndique, "Father, my heart and affection are always in Malabar and I suffer much more now, than when I was there in person... I have explained clearly my sentiments regarding Carmel, where I feel even more urged to go... Archbishop Bernardino has indeed encouraged me in this my vocation, while recommending me to have patience and to be prudent; his great desire is that I return to Cochin." (A Life in Letters p 266.)

Love and Commitment for the Mission

APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

Mother Veronica's strength is in the fact that once she puts her hand to the plough there is no turning back. She makes all effort to set Rangoon mission in order. However her spirit longs for Carmel. She writes to Fr. Syndique, “I have no other desire than to do God's will – namely to return to the Carmelite mission and, even until death, consummate the sacrifice I began; thus I do not flee from obedience or suffering, rather the contrary." The great suffering she had begun to taste in Malabar didn’t come on the way to continue her work with people there. Rather she speaks of her felt desire, "My heart is there. The more I began to stay way, the more the desire to return increases; despite this, I am not disturbed in spirit or troubled about the future or present. I now need to work the best I can, like St. Joseph, in the fervour of his spirit and leave all merit to the Father, while the Madonna our Mother gives me the grace to profess wholeheartedly my trust in Carmel." (A Life in Letters p. 267.)

Responsible Communicator

APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

In most of Mother Veronica's letters, one of her complaints to Emilie Julien is about the latter's unusual delay in replying letters. No doubt the mode of communication then was one of the reasons. As superior of a community, it was necessary for her to settle many of the mission issues with the knowledge and consent of her superior general. After her arrival to Rangoon she wrote three letters giving details of administration of the mission and community. In her letter of November 15, 1864 she writes, "Is it possible that none of my letters has reached you, the replies to which I was anxiously awaiting. It is very painful, far as we are, from our superiors, to be left without any instructions as to how we should act, when we are in difficulties. The only alternative we have is to act on our own, as best we can and trust in God and the protection of our good and Mother Mary who will protect us." She reiterates, "But it is very painful not to receive a single word from our superiors for such a long time." (A Life in Letters p. 268-69.)

Determination to Pursue Her Call

APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

Mother Veronica had disclosed to the superior general her desire to join the Carmelite Order. She had explained to her in detail how God choses to lead her. Now in this letter she writes, "If some day you hear dear Mother, that I have left Rangoon, do not be too astonished, for it is not possible; nor will it ever be to escape the trouble that is our lot everywhere. The cross will always be my precious and glorious heritage." (A Life in Letters p. 270.)

In Quest of God's Will

APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

Mother Veronica in her letter of January 12, 1865 speaks about the reason why she joined St. Joseph of the Apparition, following the injunction of the Lord; although she was attracted to a contemplative order. Even at this juncture she says, “I do not desire anything but the will of God." Since the time she joined the Institute she never had a thought or the desire to change except recently. She states, "Now – for more than two years, I have felt being drawn towards Carmel with so sweet a violence that I can no longer resist the strong inner urge. Each of my confessors to whom I communicated this inclination of mine and to whom I explained my inner disposition, having always understood me, said they thought this voice came from God and that he would make known to me more clearly, his will through my superiors." (A Life in Letters p. 270- 71)

Drawn to Contemplative Life

APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

Mother Veronica's letter to Father Syndique from Rangoon on 12 January, 1865 clearly states that she is strongly drawn to a contemplative way of life and desires to walk the way of perfection. She writes to the priests, "Here, we have a very good missionary to whom I write. He is our extraordinary confessor and director. He says that he strongly believes that this call is the will of God for me and not a temptation. As for me, I am in peace and calmly await in patience the interior security our Lord will give me, in making known through my superiors what he wants of me." (A Life in Letters p. 271)

Spirit to Contemplative Life

APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

Mother Veronica continually seeks God's will for her through her spiritual guides and superiors. She believes God leads her through them. Even in the apparent impossible situation she says, "I am not at all discouraged; rather I am always perfectly at peace and contented. I need not be afraid of anything, because I neither wish nor desire anything, except the will of God - to work for and seek God, is the only aim of my poor life. The good Jesus is our all and his sweet Mother is also our mother and our consolation." She feels, "The life of a missionary in India is divine and spiritual." For want of human consolation they greatly feel the need of good and holy persons to pray for them. (A Life in Letters p. 272)

In Silence and Stillness Discovering God's Will

APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

Between January 1865 and November 1866, there seems to have been no correspondence whatever regarding the new Third Order of the Carmelites to be founded. It could have been due to the fact that Father Marie Ephrem, though very keen on having this new Order established, deemed it more prudent that there be no communication at all between him and Mother Veronica till Father de Villefort, the confessor of the Sisters of St. Joseph, had pronounced on her vocation. (A Life in Letters p. 272)

The First Inspiration to Carmel

APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

The following is taken from Mother Veronica's letter to her daughters at Trivandrum, written many years later on 1 February, 1893. She confirms to her daughters in India that it was in Calicut that God gave her a vocation to become a Carmelite. On her arrival to Mangalore in 1862, Father Marie Ephrem received her into the Third Order. Since then, little by little her conviction became stronger to enter the Carmelite Order, but she could not see or understand how it could be realized. (A Life in Letters p. 273)

God Pursues His Chosen One

APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

The Carmelite missionaries felt the need to have a Third Order for their missions as there were too few sisters of St. Joseph for Mangalore, Verapoly and Quilon which then was administered by them. Mother Veronica had no idea how this desire could be actualized. Meanwhile her superior general transferred her to Rangoon – Burma. She says, "I must say, to my great grief, I almost lost all hope. However, God made use of this to realize his will and after the accident to my foot, I was ordered to return to Europe." (A Life in Letters p. 273).

Strengthened in Her Desire to Be A Carmelite

APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

Mrs. Marina Leeves got her dear daughter's leg treated by a surgeon in London. Mother's care and concern soon restored Mother Veronica to good health, however she says, "My vocation to become a Carmelite became stronger and stronger." On her return to the convent in Rome she wished to meet Father Marie Ephrem who was in Rome. She met him at Mgr. Howard's place in Rome. He advised her to continue in her desire to enter the Carmel. She writes, "But that he (Father Marie Ephrem) could not help me; my vocation must be tried, and he advised me to put myself under the guidance of Rev. Father de Villefort, a very holy Jesuit, who was confessor of the Sisters of St. Joseph, and he was to decide what the will of God for me was." Mgr. Howard assured her of all help that was within his power. He remained faithful till the end. (A Life in Letters p. 274)

In Quest of God's Grace

APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

Qualities of authenticity and transparency stand out clearly in Mother Veronica's correspondence with her beloved superior general. She had already written to her long back, of her desire to become a Carmelite. This idea of leaving St. Joseph was much opposed by Mother Emilie Julien and she tried all she could do to dissuade her and even her director Father de Villefort. Mother Veronica writes to her daughters, "But I persisted, for grace and the will of God were there and pushed me forward." (A Life in Letters p. 274)

Opposition Faced

APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

Mother Veronica had many a priests and bishops who guided her to realize her call to Carmel. They perceived her genuine longing and need of the mission and supported her cause. However, Cardinal Barnabo, the Perfect of the Propaganda, who was protector of St. Joseph's Congregation staunchly opposed her cause decided by the congregation of Bishops and Regulars. He would not give up the documents prepared, by which they were to judge the matter. She writes, "Mgr. Howard and English Prelate, Mgr. Talbot, spoke in my favour to the Cardinal Prefect of Bishops and Regulars, and to Mgr. Svegliate the Secretary, who was disposed in my favour, but Cardinal Barnabo kept the documents in question." (A Life in Letters p. 274- 75).

God's Choice is Manifested

APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

Those who trust in the Lord are never let down. God's choice is spoken through Father de Villefort who pronounced in her favour. Mother Veronica tells her daughters, "He thought I was called to be a Carmelite; and about a fortnight after he died the death of a saint. His death was an immense loss and grief to me. He had always been such a real father to me, especially in this long strife and trouble, which lasted for six months, but God permitted that before he died, he should have decided in my favour, which was a great step gained. But I had still much to do." (A Life in Letters p. 275).

God Shows the Way

APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

There seems be no doubt Mother Veronica must have had some anxiety about her leaving the Order in the circumstances in which she was placed then. God arranged everything in a wonderful way. Mother General who was obliged to go to Marseilles to the Mother house wished to take Mother Veronica with her. Mother Veronica told Mgr. Howard who consulted Mgr. Svegliati on this matter. The Prelate said to him, "Let Sister Veronica accompany Mother Emilie Julien to Marseilles, without fear; it will be much easier for her to accomplish her wish of becoming a Carmelite in France than here in Rome." They arrived in Marseilles in Easter Week1867. (A Life in Letters p. 275).

The Doors of Carmel Opened

APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

Mother Veronica was made the Mistress of Novices of St. Joseph's. In addition she writes that a holy child was entrusted to her care - referring to Mary the Arab. In this holy child of obedience, humble and full of charity, Mother Veronica saw God's marvelous works as she witnessed blood flowing from her hands, her feet, her side and her head on every Friday. Mother says, "I am firmly convinced that I was brought to Marseilles to be the means of conducting this child to her vocation as a Carmelite in Pau, for God so ordered all things that she was not accepted in the chapter of votes for the reception of holy Habit." As Mary the Arab desired, at Mother Veronica's request she was accepted at the Carmel. On 14 June, 1867, on the eve of the feast of the Most Holy Trinity, Mother Veronica and postulant little Mary the Arab arrived at the Cloistered Carmel of Pau. (A Life in Letters p.276)

Role of Father Marie Ephrem

APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

This is what we read from Father Marie Ephrem's letter to Father Syndique (Joseph Louis) dated November 26, 1866. "... It seems that Father de Villefort has decided the question of Sister Veronica's vocation. I am quite satisfied to be completely out of it. As soon as her case is settled in Rome, she can go to our Carmelite Convent at Pau. Her cell will be ready..." (A Life in Letters p. 277)

Permission from Holy Father

APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

Mother Emilie Julien writes to Cardinal Barnabo, Cardinal Protector of the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Apparition dated nil year 1867. She speaks about Sister Veronica Leeves leaving the congregation to enter the Order of Carmel. "I was almost convinced that Mgr. Talbot and Mgr. Howard had been able to obtain from the Holy Father the necessary permission for the regularization of the step she had taken. I was all the more justified in believing this as Your Eminence has never answered me on this point." (A Life in Letters p. 278-79).

Life in Carmel

APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

At last, the long-cherished desire for Carmel is realized. Mother Veronica considers it a 'Paradise on earth'. Both she and Mary the Arab were clothed as Carmelites on the following day, the Feast of the Most Holy Trinity. Mary the Arab was named as Sister Mary of Jesus Crucified. She describes their initial experience, "This dear child was happy, delighted to find herself among all these holy religious. She was in her element. I was like her; all that we saw, all that we heard was delicious to us." (Auto biography p.82)

Greatness of Mother Elias OCD

APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

Mother Elias the prioress became the Novice mistress of Sister Veronica. She defines her mistress' strengths, "What a mother, what a mistress, was this Mother Elias! Holy Mother Elias... She possessed not only all the qualities to make a person perfect. She had a distinguished education, together with intelligence above the ordinary. But what won all hearts to her was that perfect evenness of disposition in all circumstances, that gentleness that inalterable patience joined to a firmness, which did not come in the way of her kindness and maternal tenderness." (Auto biography p.82- 83)

Love and Reverence to Superior

APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

Mother Veronica was greatly influenced by Mother Elias' life of holiness personality and the way she animated the community. She calls her a person of rare humility, which in no way harmed the dignity of her speech and of her whole bearing. '...She is a person of great discernment of spirits, pleasant in speech, bears an enchanting smile, her voice inspired people from outside who came to speak to her without seeing her. She admits that she was not only a perfect Carmelite, but a perfect Prioress'. Mother Veronica recalls, "When she came every evening after matins to make a visit of the cells and to bless me, I kissed the hand which had blessed me and I lifted my eyes towards that maternal face, illuminated by her incomparable smile and I laid myself down, happy, under the influence of the joy that I had felt from it." (Auto biography p. 83)

Spirit of Faith

APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

After many years Mother Veronica reliving and relishing the fond memories of Mother Elias, says, "What a Mother the good God gave me!" She states, "On her arrival to Carmel I did not need a director besides Mother Elias. I told her everything. On arriving I wished to speak of my private life to the confessor as I was accustomed to do, but our Lord told me to give an account of everything to Mother Elias. I did so and found it good." (Auto biography p. 84)

Spiritual Childhood

APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

On 2nd July 1867, on the feast of visitation Mother Veronica was clothed in Carmelite habit at the Carmel of Pau at a ceremony that was held in secret, without outward pomp. She recounts the immense graces received from our Lord. "I was, as it were, beside myself with joy and for several days afterwards I kept the intellectual presence of our Lord beside me, who spoke to me and directed me in everything, as if I saw Him... Prayer was my joy. I had almost no distraction. Sweet tears flooded my soul. The holy office was my happiness. My attraction for penances became stronger than ever. It was like a second spiritual childhood." (Auto biography p. 85)

Plans for Carmels in Mangalore

APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

While Mother Veronica was going through the novitiate at Carmel of Pau, Mother Elias and several others of the Pau community wished very much for a foundation of the Carmel at Mangalore and those who were most ardent wanted her to give them lessons in English. Mother Elias the prioress also wrote to Father General, Dominic of St. Joseph, to tell him that Mother Veronica was there in the novitiate and to ask him what he wished to her do for the foundation of the third Order. He replied that she should undergo a shortened novitiate, and then send for the Prior of the Carmelites Bagneres to receive her profession (Auto biography p. 88)

Growth in Holiness

APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

Mother Veronica describes her spiritual experiences as a Novice in the Carmel of Pau. "I clung to more and more for my holy vocation. My health had quite come back to normal. The austerities of Carmel were a delight to me. Silence, solitude, fasts abstinence, vigils - all were easy to me. Still more I took delight in them." She still wanted judgment to confirm her vocation to Carmel. She asks the prioress, "Mother, do you believe that I have the spirit of Carmel?" Mother Elias replied, "Yes my daughter I believe." (Autobiography p. 89)

Vocation to Contemplative and Active Life

APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

Mother Veronica is experiencing the spiritual happiness at the Carmel. All along in St. Joseph's she who had completely plunged into apostolic activities, is now amazed to find herself blending both the roles of Mary and Martha. Overwhelmed with joy she says, "Yet I had been so happy doing works of charity as a Sister of St. Joseph, and now the life of Carmel had replaced it completely! I myself was astonished at the two vocations so markedly different, and when I thought that soon I would have to uproot myself from this paradise (Carmel) and return to the world to work at the foundation of the Third Order, my heart was torn." (Auto biography p. 89)

God's Elect

APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

As for Father General's wish for a shorter novitiate, Mother Elias asked Mother Veronica to make retreat in preparation for her profession in the Third Order Regular, which she was to found. As Father Bagneres could not receive her profession, he delegated Father Robert OCD. She professed on the feast of our Lady of Dolours in September, 1867 with all ceremonies according to the custom of the Great Order. It was when she was prostrated in the form of a cross on the carpet, Mary of Jesus Crucified who present saw a great cross which hovered over Mother Veronica while she was prostrate. She relates here what was only known to Mother Elias, "During my retreat I had imprinted over my heart, with a cross heated in the fire, the sign of the cross, which, since then, I often renewed. Henceforward the holy cross was to be my portion." (Auto biography p. 9

The origin of Carmel and Initial Hardships faced in foundation

APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

Father A.L.D.C., a priest (not known) asks Mother Veronica to give him an account of the origin of the Third Order and to whom the original idea of it belongs. She replies to him from Apostolic Carmel, Bayonne, letter dated 11 November 1871. "It seems to me that this work was an inspiration to several persons at the same time. When I received the vocation to enter the Carmelite Order in 1863, I had been already nearly thirteen years in the congregation of the Apparition, and my superiors had sent me to the missions of the Carmelite Fathers on the coast of Malabar." (Life in Letters Volume II p.288)

Works of Mercy

APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

Mother Veronica explains to Father A.L.D.C, how the idea of Carmel materialized: "Monsignor Bernardino Archbishop of Verapoly, Rev. Father Marie Ephrem, and Rev Father Cherubino, a Carmelite missionary, all three knew of my desire to become a Carmelite ... they communicated to me the idea of a Regular Third Order for the Missions, that they might have nuns of the same family of Mount Carmel, who should devote themselves to various works of mercy in union with our Fathers." (Life in Letters Vol. II p.288)

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APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

To implement the thought of Camel was an uphill task for Mother Veronica. She states, "The good God helps us to surmount all obstacles when he desires something." In her letter to Father Syndique she says that several religious were ready to leave for the foundations at Quilon. Father Marie Ephrem desired to have Cloistered Carmelite Sisters and Tertiaries for teaching work, who could live in the same house, use the same chapel; that could greatly benefit the teaching community from the spiritual support of the cloistered religious. ( Letter dated June 25, Vol. II 1867)

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APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

Mother Veronica in her letter to Father Syndique says that Mgr. Howard has also received a letter from the Rev. Father Marie Ephrem of his desire to have Religious of the Reform as well as Tertiaries. She seeks priest's advice in this regard. She is happy and appreciates the fervent edifying spirit that reigns in that community. She comments, "When Father Marie Ephrem does not need me any more for his Tertiaries, I think I too will retire behind the cloister walls to end my dire wretchedness in the peace of the Reformed Carmel." Indeed we know these inspired words did come true. ( Life in Letters Vol. II p.292- 93)

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APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

The Prioress of the Carmelites of Pau greatly admired and appreciated Mother Veronica. She tells Father Marie Ephrem that she considered Mother Veronica as the "precious treasure". He in turn communicates to Father Dominic the General, that Sister Veronica joined the Carmel community of Pau. "The whole community is enchanted with her. Sister Veronica is an incomparable treasure for a community." Father Marie Ephrem concludes, "Sister Veronica is a subject sent by Providence to succor us in our need." (Life in Letters Vol. II p.294- 95)

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APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

Mother Veronica is clothed in the white habit of the Carmel of Pau. Father Marie Ephrem reminds her, "Oh, how much you have longed for this moment. Through how many contradictions and trails of every sort you have passed to reach the goal of your desires... How mysterious and wonderful are the ways of God." (Life in Letters Vol. II p.295)

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APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

Mother Elias the prioress became the novice directress of Mother Veronica. Father Marie Ephrem writes to the latter from Trivandrum letter dated 13 August, 1867, "I must have sisters here for the education of girls. I must have them absolutely. Lately the protestants have got down from England for Trivandrum. A lady teacher is doing all she can to make our young people Protestants. I am doing all I can to counteract her." (Life in Letters Vol. II p.296)

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APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

While Mother Veronica was going through her novitiate, Father Marie Ephrem asks to write the Rule for her new Order. "As for me I have no time to write the rule of the Third Oder... draw up for me based on our Rule, (Carmelite) the Constitutions for Tertiaries engaged in Education and Works of Charity. Send me these Rules and Constitutions by Post. I will go over them and then it will be necessary to get them approved by the bishop of the diocese where the Third Order is to be founded. I am pressing the affair of our foundation in Rome with M. R. Father General and Cardinal Barnabo. You know that it is only by patience that you overcome all obstacles." (Life in Letters Vol. II p.296)

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APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

Father Marie Ephrem knew Mother Veronica's passionate desire to be a missionary in India. He says, "I understand your eagerness to return and consecrate yourself to the service of our poor Indians and I regret that you cannot start at once... Our Catholic children go to Protestant School. It is deplorable!... I wish greatly that we could found in France a Third Order for teaching, because in that way we could bring out subjects to our missions later, as we need them. One must think of the future; I would rather wait six months longer, and leave behind me a work established, which will serve as a nursery for our missions." (Life in Letters Vol. II p.297)

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APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

Father Dominic in his letter dated 2 November, 1867; directs Mother Veronica about the work of the Foundation. "It is urgent that you should put into execution your project of the foundation in Savoy. The moment you receive permission from the bishop send me the Christian and Family names of M. I'Abbe and I will forward to him the letters patent to establish a Third Order. Then as soon as you have certain number gathered together in some house, make your constitutions, which must be approved first by the Rev. Father Marie Ephrem; submit them to the bishop, and then form your community under Rule." ( Life in Letters Vol. II p.298 -99)

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APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

Mother Veronica informs Father Marie Ephrem her future course of action: "...I am very pleased with Father General's letter, since he is asking me to start the work at Savoy as soon as I receive the necessary authorization from the Bishop of Annecy. That is rather consoling to me, for in leaving this dear Carmel (my secure nest, to go back to the turbulent world), I feel I am acting under obedience, else I would be incapable of doing anything." ( Life in Letters Vol. II p.299)

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APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

Father Marie Ephrem expressed his joy and gratefulness towards Father General for the keen interest he was showing in the work of Third Order Regular. However Father Marie Ephrem does not want her in India at least for the present. He apprehends, "If she comes to India this might bring the displeasure of Cardinal Barnabo against them and result in her setting out from Europe, without leaving behind her anything stable… thus, Sister Veronica could remain on in Europe and found the Third Order there and send us subjects, some of them English; it is the best thing that can be done. In a couple of years, when the work is going on well in France, Sister Veronica could come here if her superiors see that it is her vocation." ( Life in Letters Vol. II p.302)

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APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

Father General had written to Mother Veronica, of the dire need of having English novices who after being formed could be sent to Quilon. Here she expresses her heartfelt desire to Father Marie Ephrem, "Oh Father, I ask you to beseech our Lord and his Holy Mother to so ordain everything that I might myself go soon. I am destined for India. My heart is there... just as he helped me to overcome all the difficulties that obstructed me from entering Carmel; he will help me to overcome all the obstacles that bar my path to India. I am strongly convinced about this." (Life in Letters Vol. II p.301)

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APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

Father Marie Ephrem expressed his joy and gratefulness towards Father General for the keen interest he was showing in the work of Third Order Regular. However Father Marie Ephrem does not want her in India at least for the present. He apprehends, "If she comes to India this might bring the displeasure of Cardinal Barnabo against them and result in her setting out from Europe, without leaving behind her anything stable… thus, Sister Veronica could remain on in Europe and found the Third Order there and send us subjects, some of them English; it is the best thing that can be done. In a couple of years, when the work is going on well in France, Sister Veronica could come here if her superiors see that it is her vocation." ( Life in Letters Vol. II p.302)

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APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

Father Marie Ephrem in his letter dated 14 December, 1867, reiterates to Father General,"My beloved Father what I want are sisters, at least some of them English, but I do not ask for Sister Veronica in particular. If I have spoken of her to your reverence in my previous letter, it is because she is the only Englishwoman I saw and know, who could succeed here; only the English could succeed here. But if one can train others and send them to us here I shall be fully satisfied." (Life in Letters p Vol. II.302)

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APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

Father Marie Ephrem regrets the appalling situation in Trivandrum, India, of Catholics made to follow Protestant religion. He writes to Father General, "A good number of our Catholics here have become Protestant and their apostasy is attributed in great part to the protestant education they received in school." He continues in the same letter about the question of Cloistered Carmel coming to India. He says, "Our cloistered sisters have a great desire to come here. But I am always of the opinion that the Tertiaries must arrive first, or at least at the same time as the others, but as the Tertiaries cannot leave before a year at least, it is better that the others wait." (Life in Letters p. Vol. II 302)

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APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

Father Marie Ephrem shares with other Carmelite Fathers his happiness over the founding of the Third Order Regular and his determined decision not permit Sister Veronica come to India. In his letter to Father Syndique, a Carmelite, he writes "I am happy with the decision of Your Reverence that Sister Veronica opens the Third Order in France and sends the subjects over to India, at least at for the present... I am quite satisfied with these arrangements." (Life in Letters Vol. II p.303)

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APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

Mother Veronica completed her six months' novitiate at Pau and, on 15 December, in the biting cold, ten days before Christmas, (although she desired to spent Christmas in the cloister), she left the convent gates dressed in a long black dress and an old hat - for disguise was necessary. No nun could traverse the roads alone till very recently and still less could she do so in the nineteenth century. Mother Veronica went in search of a place to start the new Third Oder. (Life in Letters Vol. II p.304)

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APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

Mother Veronica faced many unexpected difficulties and challenges while she was looking for a place to begin the foundation. To the Carmelite General she enumerates some of the hardships: The biting cold; the longing for the contemplative life; the disappointment at the hopeless situation in Savoy, especially the lack of money; the intense loneliness; the humiliation; the rejection, the condemnation as a woman of loose character, a fraud - no priest would even hear her confession, and that by the Carmelite fathers, notwithstanding the hand-written letter of Introduction from the Carmelite General himself, which, for want of a seal, was set aside as fake. Above all, the utter failure in her search for candidates, a place, a house, finally ending in her return to Pau with empty hands. She has paid the price for our precious Apostolic Carmel. ( Life in Letters Vol. II p.304)

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In another letter, dated 14 December1867, she shares her painful feelings and acceptance of the Cross to Father General, "I left our dear Carmel of Pau sadly, leaving behind my heart, for it is there that I found my true self; I was in my element, in short in my earthly paradise. Ever since I came away I am like a poor vagabond, an exile. I feel as though all my bones are dislocated. But I know that God's work can be established only through the Cross and suffering, and I offer myself voluntarily to do all he will ask of me, hoping that this work will be for his greater glory." ( Life in Letters Vol. II p.305)

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Mother Veronica takes inspiration from St. Teresa and with a ray of hope she boldly proceeds in her work. She unburdens her struggles to Father General: "I have faced many difficulties but I console myself at the thought that when our holy Mother Teresa made her foundations in Spain, she had many difficulties too; so I am recommending this work also to her, as it is only a continuation and complement of hers, over which she keeps watch from heaven... It is good to trust in the Lord... I do not wish to undertake anything without his authorization, so that we can thus hope for God's blessings. (Life in Letters Vol. II p.306- 7)

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Father Dominic strengthens the spirit of Mother Veronica, the greatness of her undertaking, "You must be surprised at the obstacles you find in accomplishing your glorious enterprise; it is usually so in works done for God; but you know that success is promised to perseverance... and God will bless you. On my part I will assist you as far as it depends on me. (Life in Letters Vol. II p.309)

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Almost three months in vain, Mother Veronica went about trying to secure a place for foundation. She was confronted with situation the least unexpected. At a juncture when she was wearied in body confused in mind and low in spirit, the timely letter of Father General gave her a ray of hope. She writes, "These precious words of encouragement which Your Reverence wrote to me were 'what oil is to a lamp'. I was dejected and was like a wanderer, quite at a loss, out in the world without knowing to whom to write, so as to live my vow of obedience, which I had made to my superiors as a Carmelite of our Holy Order. ( Life in Letters Vol. II p.310-11)

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From la Roche, on March 1, 1868, Mother Veronica writes to Father General: "More than once, finding myself all alone, not knowing whom to turn for aid, I thought of returning to my Carmel of Pau, but not because I refused to suffer or to devote myself to whatsoever my superiors would want to impose on me; but what is painful is the thought that I am abandoned; that they leave me to what I think is best, while I ask only to obey, and it is this that hindered me from giving up, for I kept saying to myself, "It is obedience that brought me here and I shall leave only through obedience." (Life in Letters Vol. II s p.311)

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The following lines remind us of the importance of being with persons in their critical moments. Father Dominic's caring support was truly like 'what oil is to a lamp' to Mother Veronica. She tells him now, "I do not fear the obstacles and difficulties that I may have to encounter when I follow the directions of my superiors... 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 lead me finally to these dear Missions for which I would willingly sacrifice my life." (Life in Letters Vol. II p.311)

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Understanding the situation in which Mother Veronica was placed; Father Dominic encourages and tries to do all in his part to support Mother Veronica. His letter dated 10 March, 1868 reveals, "I will try to engage the superiors of our convents in France (OCD Fathers) to procure vocations for you, and I will write to Landon also. Put your confidence in God. Pray to the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel, to St. Joseph, our Mother, St. Teresa, and struggle on without stopping before difficulties. One does not usually accomplish a good work of importance without having to encounter great obstacles." ( Life in Letters Vol. II.312)

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In moments of hopelessness and doubts, Mother Veronica asks Father Marie Ephrem to confirm if she is on the right path. He responds clarifying her doubts, letter dated 14 April, 1868: "You ask me for a word of encouragement, and one word to assure you that you are really acting under obedience. That, my very dear child, I will send you with all my heart. I am pleased with you; I approve of what you are doing; I bless you, and I beg our Lord who alone has the power to make what we undertake for his glory, prosper and succeed, bless you and strengthen you in the midst of the difficulties you meet with. Have no fear of the path which you tread, or for the work which you have undertaken through obedience. (Life in Letters Vol. II p.313- 14)

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Father Marie Ephrem once again affirms to Mother Veronica: "You are on the path of obedience, and I desire you to continue to work for the foundation of the Third Order... I beg all the fathers of our Order to assist you in this foundation, so important for our missions, and which I desire with all my heart. ( Life in Letters Vol. II p.314- 15)

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From the Carmel of Pau, Mother Veronica writes to Father Dominic, on 7 June 1868, about the persons who stood by her in the hour of need. "Of all the Fathers, it is the prior of Montpellier who is inclined to take the success of our work seriously." The strain in obtaining permission from the bishop of Bayonne she states, "It is difficult to go all by myself, a poor Carmelite in disguise, as no one wants me to wear our holy habit. So, I appear like a vagabond before bishops and important personages, with no one to support me, not even to accompany me... if it is were not for holy obedience, I would not take a step, for I have neither any attraction for this roving life of a foundress, nor do I claim the honors that accrue to it." (Life in Letters Vol. II p.316- 17)

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There were moments when Mother Veronica felt almost to abandon her dream of founding a Carmel for mission. She writes on 7 June 1868 to Father Dominic her interior struggles... "Readily and wholeheartedly, I shall go to India, dedicate myself, even give my life; if our Lord gave me this signal grace... I am not at all inclined to this way of living... Our Holy Mother Teresa was never alone, when she went about making her foundations. She had at least someone by her side when she had to go personally. As for me I am quite alone." (Life in Letters Vol. II p.317)

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The Bishop of Bayonne gives consent to begin the foundation in his diocese. Mother Veronica informs this good news to Father Dominic. He gives her the approval to start, letter dated June11, 1868: "I grant you very willingly the permission to found at Bayonne. You must express my thanks to his lordship, and also to our dear sisters and Rev. Mothers, the Carmelites of Bayonne. I hope that our dear Jesus will not abandon you and, since his Divine goodness has allowed you to begin the work, his providence will do the rest. My thanks to our dear Mothers at Pau, for their charity, and for their eagerness to aid you in the foundations of the Third Order. (Life in Letters Vol. II p.319)

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At last God leads to the destiny. Mother Veronica tells Father Marie Ephrem from Pau on 13 June 1868: "At Bayonne, where we have finally decided that the foundation should be made. In my dealings with the Bishop of Bayonne, it is only by being very submissive to him that I could gain something and so I could do what I wanted. He has to be treated as a major superior. I shall carry on very tactfully and nicely, by being submissive and trustful, which is not at all difficult, since he is such a friendly and lovable old man. (Life in Letters Vol. II p.323)

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For a long period of five years, The Lord permitted Mother Veronica to go through the crucible of suffering and death to give life to her first inspiration at Calicut - A Camel for Indian Missions. Finally, the Lord showed her the stable to give birth. She communicated this good news to Father Martin, the Carmelite Provincial of Aquitaine. This is how he responds, “It is at Bayonne that Our Lord desires to place the cradle of the family that obedience has called upon you to institute… have courage therefore, and confidence in the fatherly providence of our Lord.” (Life in Letters. p 324)

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Father Martin, the Provincial appreciates the rough and rugged road traversed by Mother Veronica to cradle the foundation at Bayonne which is the work of God. He reaffirms her of the Divine protection and providence experienced through the kindness shown by the Bishop of Bayonne and a large enough house she procured for her young community. He tells her, "You have been led there by the hand, as it were. As you will remark, God is a banker who never fails. To doubt, it is to wrong him whose goodness and riches are boundless... We pray and will ask others to pray for your undertaking." (Life in Letters. p 325)

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Father Marie Ephrem expresses his happiness as God is gradually unveiling his plan for the Little Carmel. He notes, "I see with true satisfaction that you are always guided by holy obedience. However little success you may have at La Roche, it will always be a great gain for you and the work, that you are able to say to yourself, "I have obeyed" How much strength and merit there is in those simple words, "I have obeyed." (Life in Letters. p 325)

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Father Marie Ephrem is happy to note Father General's personal interest in the affairs of the new foundation at Bayonne. He tells Mother Veronica, "Obey him; do whatever he may tell you; go wherever he may send you and rest assured that God will be with you. Father Marie Ephrem also gives the good news of new recruits in India, "You have some Postulants who are most impatient to see the sisters arrive (India). Beg our good God to strengthen them in their vocation. Remember the words of our holy rule, "in silence and in hope lies your strength" Let us try to be silent 'wait, pray, resign, ourselves and hope; that will be our strength. (Life in Letters. p 326)

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Fr. Inchauspe the Superior of Bayonne community writes to Mother Veronica, letter dated September 27, 1868, "Ever since you were committed to my care, the object of my constant solicitude and, with the grace of God, I am ready to sacrifice everything that I may fulfill my duty towards you. Speak to me then in freedom and command me... ever united to your Divine Spouse, remain in peace and quiet, filled with confidence in him. The greater your confidence in God, the more he will sustain you. (Life in Letters. p 329-30)

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Father Dominic the Titular General writes to Mother Veronica in his letter dated November 18, 1868, "Remember that I take great interest in your work; also, I see that Rev. Father Prior of Montpellier is doing all that he can for you... Fear nothing from the devil; he can bark but cannot bite if we have nothing to do with him... place yourself under the protection of the Blessed Virgin of Mount Carmel of St. Joseph. (Life in Letters. p 331)

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Bishop Marie Ephraim is full of joy and gratitude to God that in mysterious ways he chose Mother Veronica to fulfill his plan. 'The Apostolic Carmel'. This is what He writes to her in his letter dated December 12, 1868, "How much I admire the designs of God in all that has passed…He has withdrawn you, my child from the protestant religion, and led you into the pure and holy light of the beloved Church; and not content with this, he has chosen you out of ten thousand to be his beloved bride and the instrument of his designs in the order of this Apostolic Carmel. God be praised for having looked with an eye of mercy on this our work, which is also his. (Life in Letters. p 333)

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Father Marie Ephrem acknowledges the painful struggles and obstacles Mother Veronica encountered in the initial work of the foundation and those which she would have face for its stabilization. He considers all of these as the proofs that God loves this work. "Therefore, devote yourself to it entirely. I order you to do so by the authority I have over you. I pray for your dear work, for you who are the cornerstone of it, for our dear children, who are the first fruits, and your worthy superior who is the workman... I beg of Jesus to fill the hearts of all who dwell in our house... with his grace and love; and the spirit of zeal and sacrifice. (Life in Letters. p 333)

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Father Marie Ephrem is convinced of the good grounding of the sisters who would be shouldering this entire edifice of the Apostolic Carmel. Therefore, he reminds the foundress, "Do not hurry too much... before starting, establish a solid foundation. We will wait until the time comes; I should greatly regret seeing no English novices in your number. They are very necessary it seems to me; but Jesus knows better than we do what is needed. (Life in Letters. p 334)

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Quite often God permits his chosen souls to walk alone facing all the tumultuous tempests while he veils his presence. Father Gratian the Prior of the Carmelite monastery at Montpellier is aware of the storm Mother Veronica faced in this venture. In his letter dated March 10, 1869 he writes "I thank our Lord that our Very Rev. Father General has taken your affair to heart. I will not hide from you that I had some fears on this subject. I thank him for the encouragement he has given you in the midst of all your trials. These are a good sign. It is as good as a brilliant and rapid success. My poor, dear Sister, trials come to you from every country, from France, From England, From India, from Rome and from hell as well as heaven; but tempests do not last forever. (Life in Letters. p 335)

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Once you put your hand into the plough do not turn back. How true it is with Mother Veronica. Bishop Marie Ephrem is very pleased with Mother Veronica regarding the progress of the Little Carmel in less than year. He writes to her on May 18, 1869, "I know that you are working enthusiastically and that consoles me. They say also that our Lord blesses our dear convent at Bayonne... As for me it is needless to tell you that I am with you in heart, prayers and works... I need not tell you that one of my first cares, on arriving in France, will be to pay a visit to our dear little convent at Bayonne and there bless our first children. (Life in Letters. p 336-37)

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The Carmelite mission in India greatly and urgently needed the service of sisters for education and faith formation of young people. However, Bishop Marie Ephrem lays greater importance of the formation of young Sisters before they step into the field. He tells Mother Veronica, not be in a hurry. "My daughter; you know that the works of God begin in poverty, and are formed slowly. You have tasted poverty in the beginning and trials also; now wait patiently that all may be done in God's own time. (Life in Letters. p 337)

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The maxim 'After a storm comes the calm' is true in the life of Mother Veronica. People who knew her recognized how tenderly and providentially God led her through varied circumstances. Bishop Marie Ephrem reminds Mother Veronica. "You know, my daughter, with what tenderness and sweetness the Providence of God has led you this far, bringing to their fulfillment the designs he had upon you when the hour was come, the hour which no one can hasten or delay. You know how our Lord has protected you from dangers and has delivered you and through how many varied experiences you have had to pass, to reach the place where you now are. (Life in Letters. p 337)

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Bishop Marie Ephrem appreciates the heroism and goodness of Mother Veronica. He expresses, "I have desired, and still desire, that you should become a great saint... wait in silence and hope; there lies your strength. Wait also in prayer and in practice of those virtues which make good religious. Form our children of the dear convent of Bayonne in obedience, in humility, and in mortification. Prepare them to become instruments of mercy and salvation. (Life in Letters. p 337)

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Father Dominic the Superior General. in his letter dated July 7, 1869 encourages. Mother Veronica, "It is generally the case with works undertaken for the glory of God, that they are tried and proved by contradictions, especially at the beginning, and so the embarrassment sent you by the evil one is a fresh proof that God wishes to make use of this foundation for the good of souls, continue to work with courage, for God is with you. I am glad to see that your work prospers daily. (Life in Letters. p 338)

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APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

A word of caution from Father Dominic to Mother Veronica, "I advise you not to receive any postulants who come from other congregations. Those who come out of the world are more readily moulded to your Rule and customs than those coming from other communities... they have quitted and are always a source of anxiety and embarrassment. I thank God that he has deigned to console you with so excellent a subject as Sister Mary Elias of St. Teresa. Try to ground her well in the spirit of her vocation. She will render great service to the congregation in the future, and will be a help to you in the midst of your occupations. Strive to make her acquire profound humility and blind obedience. (Life in Letters. p 338)

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Till mid – 1869, with regard to the new foundation, things had been going on very well, as we have seen between Mother Veronica and Bishop Marie Ephrem. True, in a letter here and there, we had picked up that the bishop was not very keen on having Mother Veronica in India, at least for the near future, whatever his reasons. On the other hand, Mother Veronica had been planning and making arrangements for the personnel she would have to leave in her place in the Little Carmel in Bayonne, when she left for India. But nothing negative had surfaced between the two collaborators. (Life in Letters. p 343)

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Bishop Marie Ephrem visited Bayonne in September 1869. He was not pleased with some of Mother Veronica's practices- the habit, the fasts, the cloister and he had gone away from the Little Carmel without saying a word to Mother Veronica and apparently irritated. This was the first time that any friction had arisen between the two. (Life in Letters. p 343)

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It seems to be that Father Manaudas, one the priests at the seminary close to Little Carmel, who was not well disposed of the new convent; opposed everything even reserving the Blessed Sacrament in the convent chapel. He miscommunicated to Bishop Marie Ephrem and others things about Carmel. Mother Veronica had its repercussions. She had done nothing without the knowledge of her Superior Father Inchauspe. This is what she later writes to the Bishop Marie Ephrem letter dated October 26, 1869: Our good Father Inchauspe said, “We must arrange everything in a suitable manner and then you will request Mgr. to set up the enclosure, which he will be happy to do and he will allow you to reserve the Blessed Sacrament." She states, "As for me, I carried out all the directions of Father Inchauspe, who drew up the plans and directed all the work." (Life in Letters. p 347)

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Mother Veronica from her experiences had dreaded parlours without grills, where curious visitors came to waste time just for the pleasure of seeing Carmelites. The Carmelite Father General had visited the Carmel; he had gone round seeing everything and was quite pleased that they were cloistered. He also went through the constitutions and made minor changes and told her that they should observe the fasts and abstinences of the Third Order Secular. She gives detailed explanation for all her doings. Yet she humbly submits to make necessary changes as per his guidance. ( Life in Letters. p 348-49)

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Bishop Marie Ephrem's reply, to Mother Veronica, of November 6, 1869 was not a pleasant one. She writes, "To say that the letter you sent me did not give me pain would be untruth. But knowing that in everything. I have no other intention than to act under holy Obedience, and since I can, despite all my miseries and sins, give proof of having always obeyed in whatever concerns this foundation, from the smallest to the greatest detail, I soon felt consoled. Besides, our worthy superior and very good Father, Canon Inchauspe, arrived and very kindly reassured me entirely, on this matter of holy obedience." (Life in Letters. p 352)

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Mother Veronica once again places before Bishop Marie Ephrem the need for episcopal enclosure and not like that of Great Carmel; "I ask you to promise that you will at least grant episcopal enclosure for all the houses that we will be asked to open in India, that is to say, that apart from the parlours, neither seculars nor ecclesiastics must enter the interior of our monasteries, except, of course, in the cases permitted by the rules regarding enclosure." (Life in Letters. p 353)

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Mother Veronica speaks of the importance of living a common life. "As for mortifications and penances, in Carmel I have seen how the novices were made to follow the rule of common life without any exemptions, and till today I have followed this way of life. (Life in Letters. p 353)

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We notice the persistence of Mother Veronica in what she believes is the necessity for the Apostolic Carmelites. Addressing to Mgr. Marie Ephrem she says, "I have seen such wretched and scandalous happenings in religious houses in India, in which there is no enclosure of any kind, that I say it openly even to you Mgr., and my father, that I will never consent to return there, without this safeguard. Remember Father that I have travelled more in India than you. I have stayed in different religious houses, in Madres, Calcutta, Burma, and it is only among the sisters of Loretto at Calcutta, where these precautions are taken... I was edified and breathed the sweet odour of Jesus Christ. If your Excellency can allow us the enclosure like that of the Ursulines, we shall be quite satisfied." (Life in Letters. p 353-54)

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APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

Mother Veronica, a woman of obedience, was dutiful in consulting obeying and implementing the suggestions made by her superiors Mgr. La Croix Father General and Cannon Inchauspe concerning the new foundation. In spite of Bishop Marie Ephrem not seeing eye to eye with her, when he raises objections that it is not possible to impose on Indian Missions rules and observations already drawn up, the foundress sadly retorts, "But Father, can you please tell me why I left the Carmel of Pau and why we are here together? If Your Excellency does not want us in India, then what purpose does this foundation serve? It is not to remain in Bayonne, nor to give pleasure to the inhabitants of this town, that we have worked and struggled to form this community?" (Life in Letters. p 354)

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Father Lazare, full of concern for Mother Veronica and her mission, writes, "God only knows, how dear the Apostolic Carmel is to me... rest assured that I will come and help you, encourage and defend you, if it is necessary... in the meantime, be obedient to all that His Lordship asks of you. I am more anxious than ever to be with you; neither pity nor affection for you is wanting... I would do anything in the world to save you the least pain. May the divine Master someday grant me the grace to lighten for you all those sufferings which come on you from all quarters! (Life in Letters. p 355)

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APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

Bishop Marie Ephrem once more chastises Mother Veronica. In her letter of January 11, 1870, in all humility she begs pardon and is willing to take all the blame on herself without an excuse. But she resolutely tells him "I assure you, Father, that I neither wish nor desire, anything but holy obedience, I willingly undertake all the observances and the Constitutions that Your dear Excellency intends assigning us, and this withdraw without any reserve... It is God who keeps watch over his work" (Life in Letters. p 356-57)

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The tone of Bishop Marie Ephrem’s letter is definitely not life giving, after all the agonizing experiences Mother Veronica had singly faced to sow the seed of Carmel. We can feel her spirit of magnanimity as she responds to Father Marie Ephrem. "As for me and as regards what I have done about the matter, it is not surprising, considering what I am, that it should be bad and defective, but, at least, I have the goodwill to correct myself. And all that you can say or think of me will never be as much as I deserve. So, I thank you, my good and kind Father, for all that you have the charity to tell me. It is the greatest service you could render me." (Life in Letters. p 357)

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Mother Veronica's spirit of humility protected the sapling of Apostolic Carmel from destruction in its infancy. She says, "I have been telling you, Father that when one remains on one's dung, one is always satisfied and there is no chance of hurting oneself, should one fall. So here I am, ready for the work envisaged by your Excellency, "without fear" at least, if not "without reproach" (Life in Letters. p 357)

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APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

There is pain and anguish in the heart of Mother Veronica, but no trace of bitterness when opposed and humiliated. She bows her head in humble submission to Bishop Marie Ephrem. "And now, Father, I am going to prostrate myself, so that Your Excellency may kindly give me a big blessing, wholeheartedly, won't you? Also a big absolution, after which you will not be displeased with your poor daughter." (Life in Letters. p 358)

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From Bayonne, France, the three sisters of the pioneering band of the Apostolic Carmel arrived in Mangalore on 19 November 1870.They were Sister M. Elias of St. Teresa, Sister Marie des Anges, and Sister Marie Joseph. Bishop Marie Ephrem and all the people of Mangalore who had been waiting for them gave a rousing welcome. After the Eucharistic Celebration in the cathedral, the sisters were led in a solemn but festive procession to St. Ann's convent, which was thenceforth to be the motherhouse of the Apostolic Carmel. (A Life in Letters 375)

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Soon after arrival of the first group of three sisters two more were added. They were Sister Agnes and Sister Cecile. Bishop Marie Ephrem appointed Sister Agnes the prioress, Sister Marie des Anges the mistress of novices and Sister Elias headmistress of the school. (A Life in Letters 375)

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Bishop Michael Anthony, had got together a few Indian girls, who wished to be religious, and given them some sort of training, while awaiting the arrival of Mother Veronica's daughters. The Indian sisters based in Mangalore immediately became part of the Apostolic Carmel community, while those teaching in schools in Calicut, Cannanore and Tellicherry followed, as they could be spared, to make the novitiate under sister Marie des Anges. (A Life in Letters 376).

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APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

Once the sisters were settled in their new home, Mother Veronica, their erstwhile novice mistress, took over again from afar and kept writing epistles to them full of advice on how to conduct themselves as religious in this foreign land, as well as of news of the Little Carmel at Bayonne, which had so far been their home. She would write to them individually and collectively. (A Life in Letters 375).

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At first, everything went well, but gradually it became evident that Bishop Marie Ephrem was not prepared to fall in with what Mother Veronica the foundress had envisaged for her daughters, the Apostolic Carmelites. This disagreement became a problem for the young sisters, so new in the religious life and yet at the helm. Things came to a head after the profession of Mary of Jesus Crucified, 21 November 1871. (A Life in Letters 376).

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APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

Mother Veronica writes to her daughters in India, "May Jesus deign to make you saints, each on the path where it pleases his Divine majesty to lead you. Poor little Mother Agnes- poor children, all of you; I do not know what to say but my heart cries out to Jesus for you; night and day. Before your letter of Holy week arrived, and for a long time too, I have been suffering for all of you and with you, for my heart had a presentiment that my dear children were going through temptations and trails. I cannot tell you what anguish I suffered. (A Life in Letters 380).

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APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

Mother Veronica exhorts her daughters to practice the virtue of humility. In her letter of May 1871, she writes, "My children, may humility and charity reign among you. A humility that is not charitable is false, and a charity that is not humble is artificial. (A Life in Letters 380).

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APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

Mother Veronica's advice to those who hold responsible assignments, "You, my children, Sister Agnes and Sister des Anges, who are in charge, hold fast to your nothingness by reflecting on what you are – nothing but little, ignorant children – recognize this simple truth and you will not lack humility, I recommend this maxim very specially to you, my dear child, Sister Elias, since the good God blesses you with the grace of having more opportunities perhaps than the others to practice it.(A Life in Letters 380-81).

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To Sister St. Joseph and Sister Cecilia, she says, "I request you and exhort you, not to wound holy charity, that thus you may be recognized as children of Jesus." To Sister St. Joseph, "Have a similar love and universal devotedness towards all her beloved companions... not be familiar with anyone, especially with someone who has procured for you more than once." To another, "I exhort Sister Cecilia to be converted and not to be so ill-natured towards the poor little Indians." (A Life in Letters 381).

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APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

Mother Veronica advises Sister Agnes on the importance of sound initial formation. "If you are too hasty in giving the holy habit to the postulants in India, and, even more so, to get them to make their profession, you will have more than one scandal and more than one defection." (A Life in Letters 382)

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APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

By now Mother Veronica was aware that bishop Marie Ephrem was biased towards her. She tells her daughters "You will do well, my children, not to talk about me nor of our Father to Monsignor or to our priests. You see that it is not acceptable, as you will only cause more trouble than you already have." Again and again, she reminds them to practice the virtue of humility: "Always be very humble and very charitable – united among yourselves. Let each of you remember this beautiful maxim: I am nothing, I can do nothing, I know nothing. This path is very sure and filled with sweetness and peace. (A Life in Letters 382).

January 2022 - July 2022

Humility The First Virtue

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APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

This month we shall reflect on the virtue of humility. Mother Veronica says she found it extremely difficult to practice this virtue because of her proud nature. She records that her English upbringing was a challenge to penetrate the grace of humility into her being. We glean through pages of her life, to understand how heroically she cooperated with God’s grace to imbibe this virtue. May her struggle inspires us to believe that all things are possible for those who strive after perfection in our spiritual life

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APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

We have the first instance of her childhood days where she relates about her proud English nature. This incident took place in England in her ancestral house where she saw her brother and her cousins riding on the balustrade of the staircase and sliding downwards to the bottom. This is not unusual among children. Why Sophie does gives importance? She says her ego, which bothered her you are nothing less than others. She writes, “I wanted also to do the same like a tomboy and I fell over the handrail on a landing, thirteen steps below, where I was picked up unconscious. Two of my front teeth remained on the landing and another clung only by a thread. My mouth was horribly cut; it was stitched and for a long time I could not eat anything solid.”

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APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

Mother Veronica admired in her father many a saintly quality. She calls him a man of virtue and prayer who prayed with the family as well as alone by himself in the secret of his room. The curious children looked through the key – hole and found their father praying aloud on his knees with joined hands .She says, “This was rare among the protestants… he had a depth of humility which astonished me; as for me I was proud of my pride which I believed necessary to be a well-bred young lady.”

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APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

When Sophie’s family lived in Athens, Sophie saw a great deal of social life at home, this developed in her vanity. She speaks of an evening party at home where according to her mother’s compliance, she dressed well in white muslin. She then looked into the mirror, which is not uncommon. Here she points out her proud disposition, “I became animated and excited and said to myself, but I am not as ugly as I always thought I was – it seems to me that I am pretty.” She admits venom entered her heart at the age of 16. “I was however very innocent of evil for my mother had brought us up with great care. “

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APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

Rev. Henry Daniel Leeves, the Pastor, was instrumental in building an Anglican church at Athens. At its completion, the Anglican Bishop of Gibraltar was invited for the consecration of the new church. They were many invitees for the inauguration. Sophie was 19 years old. Those days there was plenty of music, in the house, which was always open to guests and their mother always took great care that her daughters dressed in good taste, and vanity did encroach into their innocent lives. However, Rev. Leeves, their father, would not permit the least indecency for anything in the world.

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APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

The parents of Sophie Leeves brought up their daughters to fit into the English society. While they freely mixed with affluent society, parents diligently instilled values that went a long way in later life to face life with dignity and enduring courage. Sophie and her fiancé deeply loved each other. In spite it; Sophie felt the void in the depths of her heart. She searched for God. She felt she had a weight which she wished to get rid of.

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APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

Mary Anne and Catherine, who were familiar with Puseyism, introduced Sophie to the Puseyite minister for confession. When Sophie’s turn came, she fell to her knees as there was no confessional. She was hardly knowledgeable in the art of confessing and it did not help her at all. However, Sophie says, “I had so much good will to confess myself and to tell all my sins, that in spite of the shame that I felt in seeing myself opposite this stranger, I gave him the story of my life and of all that my conscience reproached me with. … I believe that the good God had regard for my good faith, and the humiliation that I had imposed on myself, for from that moment I felt quite changed.”

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APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

The Leeves sisters, Catherine, MaryAnn, and Sophie placed themselves in the spiritual care of this minister in order to lead wholly pious and devout lives. Sophie had no desire to wear beautiful dresses or jewels anymore. She gave everything to Margaret Chapel and began to wear the dresses of the devotees which was of such stark simplicity although the mother was offended and reproached them, it hardly mattered to them.”

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APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

Sophie and Mary Ann were baptized into the Catholic Church. They experienced abandonment from their Anglican Church members and society. She writes, “Everyone cast stones at us and we were excluded from all society.” Mrs. Leeves who was very proud of taking her daughters into society now restricted herself, for from that time all doors of the society were shut against them. Sophie’s mother decided to leave Malta and live in another city.

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APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

A transforming change came over Sophie after she was received into the Catholic Church. In gratitude and humility, she speaks of it. “A whole eternity will not suffice to render Him thanks for that inestimable unspeakable gift… and I trust to carry it intact before the throne of God for all eternity – after wavering and fluctuating and doubting and trembling; now I was firmly anchored on the rock of Peter. What a marvelous change came over me – Even my own sister and those who knew me best were astonished, and myself more than they.”

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APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

Sister Veronica made her profession as a sister of St. Joseph on 17 October 1852. Appreciating her superior at Syros, who was not so well disposed towards Sophie, Sister Veronica writes to the Superior General Mother Emilie de Vialar, “She is so good to me for some time at the beginning I did not know how to act. I think that many times I gave her trouble during the novitiate, because the English character finds it difficult to be submissive, and I in particular. The good God gives me greater graces not to offend her by failing in my vows… I am greatly blessed in being with such good Sisters who have so much charity towards me.”

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APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

Mother Veronica was richly blessed with human and divine qualities. Her life of authenticity stands out uniquely before God and man. She was straightforward in all her dealing with others and growing in humility. In her letter to Father Syndique OCD she writes, “I pray you, my very Rev. Father, to recommend me to our Lord and our good and merciful Mother Mary that God have pity on my misery and because of my sins may he not permit me to be a source of scandal to the souls entrusted to my care.

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APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

To Father Syndique her spiritual guide, Mother Veronica writes from Calicut, “… The reason that induces me not to desire or even ask for a change of mission, precisely because I fear that our Lord might chastise me for my failure in not making use of the graces, with which he is overwhelming me in the form of persecutions and calumnies. It is now that I am sure that he is thinking of his poor servant with a love of predilection, since he wills only the adverse in almost everything that befalls me, and I fear that I am worthless in the estimation of others. So much the better Rev. Father, our Lord has named me Veronica.”

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APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

In the same letter from Calicut dated December 22, 1863, she expresses her sentiments: “Our Lord has begun to chisel the rough block; must I restrain his hand? Pray rather that he deigns to strengthen my weakness and renew my courage in order that I may become in truth, and not merely be in the name Veronica of the Passion. This is my only desire, the goal of my life

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APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

Father Marie Ephrem confides in Mgr. Bernardino the unpleasant events rumors taking place because of the Superior of St. Joseph’s in Mangalore. She has a powerful influence on Mgr. Michael Anthony and she spreads suspicious and malicious gossips about Mother Veronica. It came as a blot on the noble personality of Mother Veronica from which she suffered. In this murky situation, Mother Veronica thanks Fr. Syndique for his consoling letter, “It is true dear Father, and I find myself without any support and without human consolation in a foreign land. Naturally, sometimes lassitude sets in, as one does not know on which side to turn to spiritual or temporal help. Then the thought of the Holy Passion of our Saviour and his Agony in the Garden, where he suffered all manner of dereliction much more than we can imagine , is a source of courage to rise up and continue the struggle.”

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APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

In the hour of misunderstanding, and tribulations, this is how Mother Veronica struggles to overcome the sadness: “My Lord and my Spouse has chosen for himself and for all his elect without exception, this way of humiliations, persecutions and crosses. How then can I think of a different way, I, who am a soul so specially privileged, and chosen from the midst of darkness to be his own? Is it not possible that he leads me by any other way, so what else should I desire? … I might follow him to the summit and die there, crucified with him and like him. However, how far I am still from this.”

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APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

We have another gesture of Mother Veronica’s virtue of humility. 1862. On arriving on the beach of Calicut, in 1862 for the first time, she prostrated there and kissed the earth in the spirit of St. Francis Xavier who had sanctified the Indies by his self-effacing zeal, sacrifice and humility.

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APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

Father Dominic of St. Joseph the Father General of the Carmelite Order wrote to Mother Veronica in November 1867 to start the work of the new foundation at Savoy. Mother Veronica says, “It is rather consoling for me, for in leaving this dear Carmel I feel I am acting under obedience, else I would be incapable of doing anything. I feel so utterly wretched and incapable of anything… I would wish to remain forever in this abyss of my nothingness.”

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APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

While exploring a place for the new foundation of Third Order Regular (AC) Mother Veronica stayed at La Roche. Mrs. Leeves visited her daughter, Mother Veronica. She had heard of her daughter’s poor state as she was not lodged respectably, and came with her housemaid, to know the plight of her daughter. Veronica could not receive the mother in her very poor apartment. She arranged with Mme de Polinge one of Mother Veronica’s friends to offer her hospitality and Mother Veronica spent a day with her there. The mother was so displeased with the poverty and the complete destitution in which she found her daughter that she went away very quickly to Geneva. “

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APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

Mother Veronica received rejection from every place that she visited to begin her work of the new foundation. In Bordeaux the Carmelite Fathers thought that she was, an adventuress because of the seal of the Order was lacking on Father General’s letter. Father Peter the Prior of the Carmel there received her rather coldly. She writes, “I waited so long in the parlour that I resolved to leave the next morning, and with this intention I returned very sad and discouraged to the chair-maker’s house where I lodged.”

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APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

In her most painful moments of disappointment and abandonment, she approached their extraordinary confessor who was on visit to the convent. She says. “I went to him to get a little courage and consolation. But alas, I left the confessional with a heavier heart than when I entered it. There was only dear Mother Elias who comforted me.”

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APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

Mother Veronica relates to the Carmelite General the difficulties she faced in the work of foundation. She speaks of the biting cold, the longing for the contemplative life; the disappointment at the hopeless situation in Savoy, the lack of money, intense loneliness; the humiliation; the rejection; the condemnation as a woman of loose character and a fraud. No priest would even hear her confession, and that by the Carmelite fathers, notwithstanding the handwritten letter of introduction from the Carmelite General himself for want of seal she was set aside as fake.

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APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

When Father Dominic OCD came to know of the difficulties that Mother Veronica was faced with, he wrote a letter to her full of assurance and much needed encouragement to go forward in her work of the foundation. In her letter from La Roche, March 1, 1868 she writes, “I was dejected and was like a wanderer, quite at a loss, out in the world without knowing to whom to write, more than once finding myself all alone, not knowing whom to turn to for aid, I thought of returning to my Carmel of Pau,.. What is painful is the thought that I am abandoned; that they leave me to do what is best.”

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APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

Mother Veronica finding no opening to start the foundation apparently a failure, rejected and dejected, she returned to the Carmel of Pau. Here the prioress did not take her inside the cloister until she explored the last opportunity. Mother Veronica was made to stay with Terriers, which deeply saddened her. She writes, “My God! I think that I wept all my tears during the few days I remained outside the turn of the Carmel of Pau.”

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APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

God’s providence had marked out that the foundation of the Apostolic Carmel was to be in Bayonne. While the repair work of the existing house was on, the Bishop of Bayonne told the Prioress of the Pau Carmel to permit Mother Veronica to the cloister. Mother Veronica, overwhelmed with joy and gratitude exclaims, “Here I am unworthy to be admitted to this holy and beloved paradise. Oh my God, what have I done to merit this great joy! I came here after having visited twelve or fourteen Carmels of men and woman religious, requesting them to help us, and I showed them the circular our Very Rev. General had written to me, recommending our work.”

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APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

Bishop Marie Ephrem writes to Mother Veronica from Trivandrum on 18 May 1869, ten months after the foundation of the Third Order Regular was begun, “How much I have desired, and still desire, that you should become a great saint… wait in silence and in hope; you remember those words of our rule, ‘In silence and in hope lies your strength’. Wait also in prayer and in the practice of those virtues which make a good religious.”

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APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

Bishop Marie Ephrem instructs Mother Veronica to form the religious in formation at the convent in Bayonne in obedience, in humility and mortification and to prepare them to become instruments of mercy and salvation. Father Dominic also appeals to her to inculcate in the trainees profound humility and blind obedience.

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APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

In September 1869, Bishop Marie Ephrem visited the Carmel of Bayonne. He was displeased, apparently annoyed with Mother Veronica, for some the practices like the habit, the fasts, the cloister, and left the little Camel without saying a word to Mother Veronica. This was the first time friction arose between the two. .

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APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

Mother Veronica, heartbroken at the insensitivity shown by Mgr. Marie Ephrem expressed her disappointment that he left the place without finalising or discussing the matters concerning the Third Order. This strange attitude of his brought pain and sorrow to Mother Veronica who was awaiting him to settle business concerning the third Order. She writes, “I am no more than an instrument. I could well have stayed on in my beloved Carmel of Pau. Father, were it not for you, and your mission.”

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APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

Every good work done for the glory and honour of God is tested and purified. After a long struggle of suffering misunderstanding rejection and humiliation Mother Veronica saw her cherished dream for the Indian mission being actualized. However, God permitted to purify her through Father Marie Ephrem her most trusted spiritual father. She writes to him, “I do not seek to be considered a foundress, as I abhor the very name. I am only a poor Carmelite who would like to go and hide herself in India, and there, devote herself wholeheartedly to those dear people. Were it not for this hope, I would never have left my Carmel of Pau, because I cannot do anything for which our Lord has neither given me an attraction, nor the ability.”

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APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

Mother Veronica with profound humility and conviction writes to Father Marie Ephrem, “I am not a St. Teresa, who felt drawn to and received the grace to reform an Order; and our Lord expressly made that known to her On the contrary, I dislike anything that might give me prominence or make me singular. I am strongly inclined to remain hidden and follow the old customs and practices, to obey the rules and constitutions as I have found them and not draw up new ones.”

Love for the poor and marginalised

APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

The ‘Autobiography’ and ‘A Life in letters Volume I and II’ give us a deep insight into the versatile personality of our dear Foundress, Mother Veronica of the Passion. A glimpse into her early years reveals that her parents nurtured their children with good values of the Kingdom. Sophie’s parents - the Anglican Pastor Mr. Henry Daniel Leeves and his wife Maria Haultain were sensitive to the pain and sufferings of the poor and downtrodden. They by their passionate hearts and charitable hands left an imprint on their children to be caring and generous in their service to uplift the struggling to live a meaningful life. Sophie their eldest daughter learnt much from her parents’ exemplary life. Later in life as Mother Veronica, we see how this caring heart prompted her to give a better future to millions of children and youth. “She felt pity on children wandering aimlessly on the seashore of Calicut without a good future.” We glance through a few instances that will divulge her sensitivity and compassion for the underprivileged.

Love for the Poor and Marginalized

APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

Sophie calls Mary Anne as her ‘soul mate’. Both sisters now grown up, once again took up their old habits of visiting the poor. Sophie says, “My mother herself being very charitable was very glad that we were thus occupied.” She even permitted her two young daughters to join a society of ladies consisting of Catholics and Protestants, whose aim was to give clothes to the poor. (Autobiography p.24)

Love for the Poor and Marginalized

APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

Mother Veronica while reminiscing her early life says, “My mother had from childhood taught us to visit and work for the poor.” Mrs. Leeves came to know of an established society at Valetta for giving clothing to the poor and helping the needy. A Catholic lady Madame Demech was the president of this society. Sophie describes her as a charming person. Mrs. Leeves was delighted that her daughters Sophie and Mary Anne become its members. The two sisters visited a number of poor families to distribute clothing made by the ladies. Sophie says, “We used to take the man- servant with us to speak Maltese and find out the garrets and cellars of which we were given the addresses” (A Life in letters Volume 1 p.31)

LLove for the Poor and Marginalized

APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

At Syra or Syros Sister Veronica, although she was appointed to teach in school, on several occasions nursed some sick people and helped them to receive the sacraments, who would have died deprived of the helps and sacraments provided by the Catholic Church. She states, “I passed over silently many other episodes in my life as a sister of charity which would be very interesting, but too long to relate. Suffice it to say that it was my happiness to look after the sick poor and rich, and God blesses those who do so with love. (Autobiography p.43)

Love for teh Poor and Marginalized

APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

At Syra or Syros Sister Veronica, although she was appointed to teach in school, on several occasions nursed some sick people and helped them to receive the sacraments, who would have died deprived of the helps and sacraments provided by the Catholic Church. She states, “I passed over silently many other episodes in my life as a sister of charity which would be very interesting, but too long to relate. Suffice it to say that it was my happiness to look after the sick poor and rich, and God blesses those who do so with love. (Autobiography p.43)

Love for the Poor and Marginalized

APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

At Piraeus Sister Veronica as a superior along with two sisters were to found an orphanage. She recollects, “There were no crosses wanting to me for the beginnings are always painful. I cannot pass over in silence all the kindness, the charity that I received for ourselves and for our orphans.” A certain Baron de la Ronciere le Noury, Admiral of the French frigate, which was stationed at Piraeus, supplied from his ship, bread for the small community every morning and many other alms they needed. Subsequently, this excellent Admiral and the Baroness de la Ronciere became her very devoted friends (Autobiography p.44)

Gratitude

APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

Mother Veronica always expressed her profound gratitude to God for His special favors and blessings, of the gift of Baptism and other sacraments and the honour of being His Spouse. Three years after her first profession she tells her superior general, "I fear nothing because now I possess and know Him who is All, and I am so happy because in making my vows I have given him all I have to give and that with all my heart." (A Life in letters p.55)

Gratitude

APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

Mother Veronica always expressed her profound gratitude to God for His special favors and blessings, of the gift of Baptism and other sacraments and the honour of being His Spouse. Three years after her first profession she tells her superior general, "I fear nothing because now I possess and know Him who is All, and I am so happy because in making my vows I have given him all I have to give and that with all my heart." (A Life in letters p.55)

Love for the Poor and Marginalized

APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

Sister Veronica worked hard to get the monetary support from government and other sources for the new foundation. They were to be self-supportive. The government gave them a pittance in the form of aid to run the school and orphanage. While she tapped the human resources, she strongly knocked at God’s door for his providence. Both in Piraeus and Tremorel Sister Veronica faced severe health problems, lack of sufficient personnel and great economic crises to look after the children. (A Life in letters Volume 1 p.67)

Love for the Poor and Marginalized

APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

As late as 1860’s the schools received no aid from government. To understand her struggles I cite one of the many instances of the difficulty she faced to maintain schools and orphanages. Sister Veronica states: “The work of the Schools of the Orient has yet not been funded. I have six children who pay a little. What they give amounts to 48 drachmas per month. I get 30 drachmas from my mother, and the superior gives me the balance that is needed. It is not possible to do with less than 200 drachmas per month, with our six orphans. The good captain of the ship sends us so many little things. While she used all her resourcefulness to tap human resources, she trustingly implored Divine Providence. She writes to her Superior General, “But the good God inspires those good souls to take care of us and I am fully confident that we shall lack nothing.” (A Life in letters Volume 1 p.67).

Love for the Poor and Marginalized

APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

In Brittany, Sister Veronica remained only for a year. The cold and wet climate of the place did not suit her. It made her spit blood that caused her a great deal of fatigue. She says, “I had to look after the sick of the parish and prepare medicines for them from our small pharmacy, in such a way that I was doctor and pharmacist to all those good people who thought that I had an extraordinary gift to treat them when they were ill.” She continues, “Sometimes the good God rewarded their faith and their trust by the cure of their ills. (Autobiography p.46)

Love for the Poor and Marginalized

APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

At Piraeus she writes to Mother Emily Julien, “My little family is well- those who made their First Communion will perform their Easter duty tomorrow. I love the poor children, for they are very sweet. In another letter she writes, “We have been at peace, going about our work, keeping busy in school, with the poor, and in taking care of the sick who come here. (Letters Piraeus April 6 &19,1860. Life in Letters pp72-73)

Love for the Poor and Marginalized

APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

Sister Veronica faced bravely all challenges in giving her best service to the mission. She was very devoted to those who were in her charge and loyal to her congregation. All her letters speak volumes of her clarity in communicating and transparency in relating the facts. She writes from Piraeus a letter dated May 10, 1860: “I have told you everything in great sincerity, and now I remain indifferent to whatever may happen to me… I shall be happy to get a reply to everything I have written to you. We are going on quietly with our round of duties. My little daughters are all right. With our little children, we try to honour our blessed Mother doing our best during this beautiful month of May, singing canticles of praise to her to the delight of the children, because it is the first time this devotion is being held in Piraeus." (A Life in Letters p.76).

Love for the Poor and Marginalized

APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

It seems sometimes God tests his children’s faith. Sister Veronica tells Mother Emilie Julien, “I think God loves us very much dear Mother, as we are not spared crosses and sacrifices – gifts he sends us so that we may have something to offer him in return. Last month I had a hard time finding means to feed my poor sisters and my children. The Frigate (ship) has left last Sunday for Syria and with it went our daily bread, coffee and many other things, these wonderful friends and benefactors used to send us.” (Piraeus June 10 1860 p.81)

Love for teh Poor and Marginalized

APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

God never abandons his creation. If he could feed all the birds of the air how much more his children. In a sigh of relief, Sister Veronica thanks the Good Lord saying to her superior general, “The day after The Frigate left, the purveyor of the French ship, came to pay me a visit (his daughter is in our school). He gave me sufficient provision of sugar, rice, soap, salt, candles and coffee to last all the time they will be away.” Later she says, “I was so poor, Mother, my purse was empty, and thus more than half of our expenses were met. They are good souls indeed.” (Letters p81)

Love for teh Poor and Marginalized

APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

Persons of influence came forward to help the sisters. Some showed interest in helping the orphanage than the boarding house. Sister Veronica speaks of a French gentleman who took much interest in the sisters and their work. She also makes a special reference to good M. De la Bonnere, who she says, “always stands by us and who has been so kind as to show me more consideration than for the others, because he sees that I am so short of resources.” (A life in Letters p.83)

Love for teh Poor and Marginalized

APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

In her letters to the superior general, Sr. Veronica on and off speaks of visits to the poor and sick. She availed every opportunity to show solidarity with the suffering. On one occasion she writes, “I had an opportunity to exercise my office as a sister of charity to a poor man who died of an apoplectic stroke.” He was the servant of a retired colonel. On returning from church, they found the man unconscious and he was being given the last rites. Sister Veronica saw his poor wife in distress. So, she remained beside them for a few hours on that day and on the following day. He died without regaining consciousness. (A life in Letters p.105)

Love for the Poor and Marginalized

APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

At Tremorel, the community of three or four sisters had to work hard in the mixed school of boys and girls. She had one hundred and twenty children – sixty boys and sixty girls. Some of them were grown up- two or three were twenty years old and several boys when they left their school entered the little Seminary to study for priesthood. She says, “I loved my ‘enfants Bretons’, there was so much an innocence and purity of morals, such respect and veneration for the nuns, that there was no inconvenience in having a mixed school.” (Letter to Trivandrum daughters on 23 January 1893 from Pau p.118)

Love for the Poor and Marginalized

APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

The sisters at Tremorel, had a little pharmacy, but no doctor was available within several miles round. The people of the place used to come and fetch Sister Veronica when anyone was ill. She recalls the difficulty of going to far-off places. “Sometimes the patient was several miles off and I could not walk so far. So, they would bring me a horse to ride on; but there were no saddles in that country, only a truss of straw, in a sack fastened over the back of the animal, and I had to perch myself on the top of this baggage as best I could”. (Letter to Trivandrum daughters on 23 January 1893 from Pau p.119)

Love for teh Poor and Marginalized

APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

The workload at Tremorel was excessive for four sisters to handle. She makes an earnest request to the superior general for the fifth sister, for the care of the sick, which she considers, as something important that could not be neglected. She says, “It takes two or three hours to visit one. I went to see two sick persons today, to give them injections; I had such difficulty that they brought me back on horseback. The distance is so great it takes half a day. So, you see, good mother, that I cannot be in class and take care of the sick as well as I do not have sisters on whom I can rely.” (Tremorel, January 14, 1861. A Life in Letters p.121)

Love for teh Poor and Marginalized

APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

The help required in terms of personnel or money was not coming in. In all distress, Sister Veronica writes to her superior general on February 24, 1861. “When I actually felt the pinch of poverty and I scarcely knew where to get on the morrow what was needed for our poor children and orphans, God always provided enough, and I was never afraid. I should not complain about that, nor about anything, for I am content and happy. I have many expenses to meet, for we have nothing, or practically nothing. I had never seen anything like that. The sick are neglected now for no one is free to go and visit them.” (A Life in Letters p.136)

Love for the Poor and Marginalized

APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

The life of poverty and hardships continued in spite of many a representation to the lawful authority. Yet Sr. Veronica with due respect to the superior and concern for the mission kept asking like the Canaanite woman of the gospel. She writes to Emilie Julien, “I am expecting Mamma tomorrow. I am preparing to receive her as well as I can, but we are so poor! I scarcely know how to manage.…. Mamma told me that she sent my board for January to May to Rome…I do not know where to turn. I beg you Mother, if possible, permit me to use the money, which is in Rome, or else I will not have the means to buy what I need to keep myself alive. Our poor sisters’ clothes are tattered and I cannot buy them anything.” (A Life in Letters p.150 - 52).

Love for the Poor and Marginalized

APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

At Tremorel, Sister Veronica’s health was deteriorating. The responsibilities of the school, faith formation of children and care of the sick, visits to the poor and neglected, all of it was much for few hands. Yet she says, “We thank God for the confirmation, the First communion, the mission and the bishop’s visit to Tremorel. We are exhausted with fatigue and worries, but the worst is over. They speak of the missions but certainly, in no other mission the poor sisters are more tired than here. All that I am afraid of is Sister Marie Ange’s health, for I can count only on her to help me a little in class, with the church, with the sick whose care overwhelms us.” (A Life in Letters p.155)

Love for the Poor and Marginalized

APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

The episode of Europe is over for now. Sister Veronica kissed the Indian soil sanctified by St. Francis. She stayed few days in Cannanore, and on 7 March 1862 she reached Mangalore. She started the new foundation of a convent of St. Joseph at Calicut on 27 April 1862. She was appointed as the superior of the convent and since then came to be known as Mother Veronica. In her letter to the superior general of May 11, 1862 from Calicut she says, “It is almost six months since I left you, and I have not received a line. I prayed much for you, Mother and for our entire congregation.” What a wonderful spirit of faith and love to the superior general and loyalty for the congregation. Her disposition is an inspiration. Only those who have gone to far-off lands with unknown people language and culture will understand the anguish she expresses in her letter. (A Life in Letters p.202).

Love for the Poor and Marginalized

APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

Mother Veronica gives all details of the beginning of the new foundation at Calicut. She highlights the importance of having good sisters in the mission. She expresses her heartwarming joy to see 15 prayerful and happy little children who were there then. She takes note of all the tremendous good work missionary fathers have done with children. She informs the superior general of the dire need to begin an orphanage, which the monsignor is intending to start immediately. On her part, she shows determination to learn Malayalam, the local language. What a wonderful missionary spirit! ( A Life in Letters p.202)

Love for the Poor and Marginalzied

APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

Language is one of the most important factors in communication. Mother Veronica soon after her arrival to India begins to learn Malayalam to communicate with local people and children of Calicut. She finds the language sweet and learning is a pleasure, she expresses her happiness and relies on God’s grace to be devoted missionaries in a distant land. She experiences the holy presence and interior peace and joy in a wonderful way that dispels all her fears. Finally, she states her greatest happiness of receiving Holy Communion every day. (A Life in Letters p.202-3).

Love for the Poor and Marginalized

APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

The following incident given below speaks of the poverty hardships and plight of the poor in 1860’s. To protect, care for and give a future to neglected children it was necessary to have an orphanage, the work that was immediately taken up. Mother Veronica relates of a mother who handed over her little daughter to her for 6 annas with a declaration stating that she belongs to Mother Veronica. She states, “Our work is so beautiful here, but one must understand it and give oneself to it heart and soul.” (A Life in Letters p.215)

Love for the Poor and Marginalzied

APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

Almost six months later in September 1862, Mother Veronica tells Mother Emilie Julien, “We lack nothing here dear Mother, in order to be happy and saints- great saints”. We can read between the lines what she meant. She goes on, “If India is a torture for some, I tell you that for me I find it a Paradise – I shall willingly live and die here… If you knew what feast it is for us on the days when we have the Blessed Sacrament exposed the whole day in our chapel …It is so conducive to devotion and recollection and our dear sisters are so inflamed with love of this Eucharistic Lord; our children, even the smallest ones are so eager to keep sweet company with him. I baptized three little children who came before the feast of the Assumption. … If you only knew, how I love these dear little ones.” (A Life in Letters. p. 218-19)

Love for teh Poor and Marginalized

APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

Mother Veronica shares her joys and concerns of the Calicut mission with Fr. Syndique OCD. She expresses her deep satisfaction of the marvelous progress. Their community had 24 members of which eight were orphans. Most of them were newly baptized locals and many more were coming forward to embrace Christianity. A mother from the forest came and asked for baptism of her three children, and she herself was being instructed in the faith – that is the beginning of their Catechumenate. She says, “The joy that one feels in presenting to our Lord these dear souls, all radiant in their white baptismal robes.” Mother Veronica in a short time picked up Malayalam, and was anxious to master the language in order to teach catechism to the catechumens they received. She states that though Malayalam is a beautiful language it is difficult. (Calicut, October 1st 1862 p.221-22)

Love for the Poor and Marginaized

APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

Catechumens were steadily on the rise. School children, day scholars numbered 70 besides the orphans. Although the life was not easy for sisters at Calicut there was joy in selfless service. Mother Veronica writes to her superior general, “I think that all my life I have not tasted sweeter consolations than at Calicut. God was blessing our efforts. I loved all these dear Christians big and small as my children and they treated me as their mother. It was touching to see with what respect, with what deference they come to ask me for advice and obey like children." (A Life in Letters p.223-24)

Love for the Poor and Marginalized

APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

The people recognized the good work done by the missionaries and began to approach them for their various needs. Mother Veronica speaks of a young lady who on a Friday evening to the convent and spent the night there to enjoy the privilege of taking the discipline with them after matins. Another young man, a good friend of the Father Marie Ephrem, seeing the piety and modesty of the convent young girls wanted to marry one of them. (Autobiography God alone suffices p.56-57)

Love for the Poor and Marginalized

APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

Mother Veronica was beginning to cherish the fruit of their hard labour, and there she receives the obedience to Rangoon in Burma. She was appointed to replace the Superior there who had just left. Mother Veronica shares her feelings, “I set out therefore with some anguish of heart on my side and on that of all these dear Christians, who accompanied me as far as the waterside to begin my journey of a thousand leagues further. I was alone and it was the season of monsoon.” (Autobiography p.58)

Love for the Poor and Marginalzied

APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

In Rangoon, too Mother Veronica worked with schoolchildren, boarding school and orphanage. Poor had become part of her life. She speaks of a stranger, a poor coolie who came from interior of the country. This poor man was misused by poonghies – (the priests of the idols) and then thrown away to die. When she came to know of it, she picked him from his miserable condition. She fed and nursed him, and got him treated by a physician. Some days later when he regained his senses, she spoke to him about Christianity. Touched by their kindness the man showed great desire to be baptized and go to heaven. He said, “I wish to be like you… You have been good and charitable to me when the poonghies threw me to the jackals. I want to go where you are going after death.” (Autobiography p. 59-60)

Virtue of Humility

APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

Mother Veronica speaks of the importance of bringing up children whose young minds could be easily influenced for good or bad. She advises all parents and teachers to watch over them and form them to live virtuous lives for God. She gives an example from her life about the inadequate understanding of pride verses humility. "I was never taught pride was a sin- I mean a certain sort of pride, as Protestantism is the religion of pride. Catholicism is the religion of humility." She adds, "Catholics parents and children have the benefits of sacraments specially that of confession, which hinders innumerable sins." (A life in Letters.p.9)

Love and Respect

APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

Mother Veronica carefully differentiates the sin of pride and that of the kind of protestant pride the Leeves children were brought up with by their parents. "I used to be proud of my pride and think that to be well-born, well- educated, lady like and such things were legitimate objects of pride and conceit. I do not mean haughty and disdainful with the poor or with those below one condition - nor even vanity of one's person or dress - for my father and mother were most charitable to the poor and we were taught from our childhood to visit them with my mother and help them" Her parents took great care to have a kind and sympathetic heart towards poor and those less privileged. (A Life in Letters p.13).

The Word of God

APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

Mother Veronica's little sister Emily, deaf and dumb, was taught to read, write and cypher (code language) which helped her to understand the Bible, and all that is necessary for faith formation. The study of Scripture brought over her a marvelous change. As she began to understand and believe the spiritual mysteries of religion; the right from wrong, she gave up her passions and screams. She became gentle, obedient, and quite truthful. Sophie often took the mother's place gave Emily her lessons and became a second mother to her. (A life in letters p.13)

Honesty

APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

Mother Veronica's virtues of gratitude and honesty remarkably stand out. She is a person with a heart full of gratitude for God and others. She expressed her gratefulness even when some flaws in her conduct were pointed out. Sister Jeanne Blancal, her superior had complained to the superior general Mother Emilie de Vialar, about some lapses in her behavior as a young sister; which is understandable in the light of the facts that Sophie, in her home was brought up to be independent. In her letter to the superior general, she lays bare her heart, and admits her lapses in prudence, obedience, and lack of submission." It is attributed to her proper understanding of what was expected of her as a young religious (A Life in Letters p. 54)

Surrender

APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

In moments of difficulties, her dispositions were one of submission to God's ways: "Every good thing comes from the Lord who wanted me to belong to Him. I had the happiness of making my profession... and receiving the Cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ. May He give me the grace not to be a disgrace to Him since he wants me to wear His crucified image so visibly on my breast. (A Life in Letters p.55)

Gratitude

APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

Mother Veronica always expressed her profound gratitude to God for His special favors and blessings, of the gift of Baptism and other sacraments and the honour of being His Spouse. Three years after her first profession she tells her superior general, "I fear nothing because now I possess and know Him who is All, and I am so happy because in making my vows I have given him all I have to give and that with all my heart." (A Life in letters p.55)

Docility of the superiors

APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

Mother Veronica had an innate desire to grow in her spiritual life. The parish priest Father Privilegio, at Syros directed her soul both as a young woman before she joined religious life and later as a young religious. She was overwhelmed with gratitude for this holy priest. She writes, "I owe much gratitude to that saintly man who has been able to direct my spirit and make me know the will of God." His guidance has greatly helped her to live a happy life. In the same letter, she writes to the superior general, appreciating the good her local superior has done. She does not hesitate to say that sometimes, during the novitiate days without knowing how to act, she had troubled the superior. Again, she speaks of her English character, pride that makes it difficult to be submissive. She expresses in her letter her determination not to offend the superior by failing in her vows. (A Life in letters p.55-56)

Appreciation

APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

Mother Veronica is quick to notice the good around her and appreciates her community sisters. She speaks of her community at Syra. "I am also greatly blest in being with such good Sisters who have much charity towards me. I often think that if I could better fellow the good example that I see before me in my dear sister Felicity, I would soon be a good religious. (A Life in letters p.56)

Charity and Sacrifice

APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

The local superior at Syra Greece, a French, was not in favour of Sr. Veronica, an Englishwoman in her community. She tried to transfer Sr. Veronica, on one pretext or the other. Father Privilegio the parish priest of St. Sabastian in Syra knew the obstinate nature of the superior. He had the full knowledge of the entire situation, and speaks much in appreciation of Sister Veronica. He writes to Mother Emilie de Vialar, "The superior wants to send her away by all means, on a thousand, inconsistent pretexts. I beg of you not to permit such a thing because the Lord wants her here. I trust she will do much good, because in my opinion she is a mature soul, full of charity, and ready for any sacrifice for the glory of the Lord and the good of her neighbour". He goes on to say, "Monsignor J.M. Alberti Bishop of Syra also loves this sister very much because she has fine qualities and would like her to stay on here. It is necessary such subjects to be treated with much love because they are neophytes" (A Life in Letters p.57-58)

Educated and Esteemed

APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

The Monsignor J.M. Alberti and the Parish Priest had much appreciation of Sister Veronica who was a committed and proficient religious. They wanted her to stay on and continue to serve the school and parish community in Syra. In spite of the repeated requests of the bishop and parish priest, the superior general convinces Father Privilegio, the parish priest of St. Sabastian: "I repeat to you that I cannot manage without Sister Veronica... a project is essential for our Mission in India and Malta. I cannot do without Sister Veronica for a year or eighteen months; after that she will return to Syra. In another letter she reiterates, "it was only out of necessity that I was withdrawing Sister Veronica from Syra. In another letter Mother Emilie de Vialar says, "Monsignor speaks of Sister Veronica with all the esteem that she deserves for her erudition and good education. He was well acquainted with her parents. A life in Letters ps. (58-61).

Adept in adapting and Adjusting to new situation

APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

Sister Veronica is sent on transfer to Piraeus in Athens in the beginning of March 1860. She immediately plunged herself with her responsibilities. Her letters portray her joy and commitment in serving the Lord wherever she is placed. She is generous in seeing and appreciating the good in others even for the little kindness shown to her. She is truly an open book to her superior general and others too. In her letter to the new superior general Emilie Julien, she expresses her gratefulness for the kind service of the captains of the ships, at Piraeus when they were hard up materially even for food. She states, "M.de la Bonnere the admiral is a father to us where our wellbeing is concerned. And his wonderful chaplain, Father Metairie is truly a spiritual father to me."(A Life in Letters p.66)

A love and hunger for the Celebration of Eucharist and Blessed Sacrament

APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

To the superior General, "More than anything else, I am concerned about getting permission to have mass... to have the Blessed Sacrament reserved in our house... the church is so far that we cannot always go there once a day, and the noon visit is almost neglected. She makes a request to the Superior general, "Is it not possible to do something for us in Rome, in case of refusal?" She says, "It is the sole desire of my heart. We have given up everything in the world for the good God and His love. Let us at least have some compensation and that is all we desire for. It is our joy, our recreation, our pastime, the desire and the yearning of my heart to have at least what is required for the perfection of my soul. (A Life in Letters p.66- 67)

Openness and Transparency

APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

To the superior general, "My good Mother, I have told you many things, but my heart was so full! If I have said too much, do not spare me, please, and forgive me if it is not right. In another letter to the superior general she writes, "I have a good, beloved mother like you who understands my small sorrow... I am going to tell you everything that happened during the past few days dear Mother for if I have done wrong I prefer you to know it from me rather than from someone else; when I fail, I wish nothing better than that someone has the charity to tell it to me, so that I may correct myself." (A Life in Letters p.68- 69).

Spiritual Directions

APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

Mother Veronica always gave priority to spiritual guidance. Whether it was as a young girl or at the time of her conversion to Catholicism or later as a young religious. In her letter to the superior general, she writes, "I told you I much felt the need for a spiritual director, for the wellbeing of my interior life, without which material life is only a shadow... I am greatly in need of a director whom I thought of seeing from time to time at least, and not just once a year." (A Life in Letters p.69-70) .

Submission to Authority

APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

The world has witnessed much evil and sufferings caused by gossip and misinterpretation. Sister Veronica too suffered from such malicious behavior around her. Since an appropriate spiritual director was unavailable at Piraeus, she requested for an extraordinary confessor for herself and her community, which Fr. Don Pietro not only refused but erroneous messages were communicated to the authority. In such situation, she clarifies with Mother Emilie Julien: "Mother, I will confide in you?for I prefer that you hear it first from me... I had never in my life asked to go to one place rather than another, for the good God always provided for my needs. She continues, "If you find it suitable to send me elsewhere, I shall never, with God's grace, ask for any transfer, for I am happy anywhere. The holy cross in my portion everywhere and it will always be so and I am happy about it, for the sweet love of my Jesus is my treasure." (A Life in Letters p.70- 71)

Prudence

APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

Sister Veronica showed total detachment in going to her confessor for spiritual guidance. He on his part encouraged her to abide by the decisions she had made. He was consoled and very pleased with her good conduct and the decision she had taken with so much generosity. He also reminds her that the sacrifice involved on both the side. He remarks, "Mine will not be less great but formed in that school, what little virtue we would have if we did not know how to put teachings into practice." (A Life in Letters p.71- 72)

Detachment

APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

Sister Veronica was told not to meet her confessor at Syra often by Don Pietro. She obeyed though it cost her much. She expressed her indifference. She said, "Since it was not only I who would suffer as a consequence but the congregation to which I belonged and which is dearer to me than myself. I was willing never to see him again, or see him rarely, rather than following my own inclinations, to be a source of disedification or reproach to my order and my religion." (A Life in Letters p.71)

Forthright

APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

The world's malicious ways often destroy humans, unless one is deeply rooted in the love of God. Sister Veronica too faced the envy of persons what was masked as concern. She boldly faced such situations with no resentfulness nor obstinacy; rather she opens her heart to the superior general to clarify the matter. "My beloved Mother" she writes, "if I have been imprudent in being so happy to have a guide who understood my heart and my needs and in confiding in him and then seeing him too often, I do not want to follow my inclinations. Now that I am aware of all this, for it is very easy for me to sacrifice myself and I do it willingly since the world is wicked. But I do not believe that the good priest did me any harm; on the contrary, he has been a gift of providence to me and will still be so if the good God wants me here... but with greater caution. (A Life in Letters p. 72)

Faith in Authority

APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

The letter of the superior general Mother Emilie Julien gave Sister Veronica the comforting assurance she needed. She says, "As for me, I am so happy to receive a letter from you, no matter what you are good enough to tell me, since you know all that is weighing on my heart. I have told you everything with great sincerity, and now I remain indifferent to whatever may happen to me, and I do not worry at all about the future. (A Life in Letters p. 76)

Perseverence

APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

In those days, most of the correspondence was done through hand delivery. Persons who obliged to do this service were not always reliable. This was the key reason why Sister Veronica was not receiving mail on time from the superior general. In the challenging mission, the superior had many important matters to settle with her major superior. She wrote eight times from Tremorel for which she got no response. At the end of the ninth letter, the reply came. What a spirit of persistence! Not a word of complaint, rather she is overjoyed, with a sigh of relief she writes, "God be praised that you are not angry with me!" (Life in Letters ps.131).

Appreciation

APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

Sister Veronica with her keen intelligence and power of observation is generous to appreciate good around her. Speaking well about her community members she writes to Mother Emilie Julien, "Our dear sisters Josephine and Sr. Caroline are very good and pious ... Sr. Caroline is eagerly waiting to take her vows. I am very pleased with her. She does her work carefully, regularly and conscientiously. She is neat and very tidy, is not devoid of intelligence; if only had been developed!" (A Life in Letters p. 76-77)

Responsibility

APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

Mrs. Leeves, mother of Sister Veronica, visited her daughter after a gap of nine years on the feast of St. Joseph in 1860, and thereafter within less than two months she revisits her and insists that her daughter comes home for a holiday. Sister Veronica requests Mother Emilie Julien for a short trip. However, being conscious of her duties in the convent and school says, ?For nothing in the world would I keep away from my responsibilities, were it only for one day, without your permission and especially in order to go home. During the time spent there, I would be without church and without mass, for there is no priest on the entire Island? so it would be a great sacrifice for me; ? if you say ?go ?I shall make the sacrifice and go through obedience; if you tell me, ?do not go,? I shall be happy to stay at home. (Life in Letters ps.78-79).

Affection

APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

Sister Veronica treasures letters from her superior general and considers them as ?what oil is to the lamp.? She was away in Versailles, during Christmas in 1860. She feels the void of not being close to Mother Emilie Julien and expresses her fond sentiments in her letter, ?It would be very painful to spend it far away from you dear and beloved Mother, if I did not think I was doing God?s will through holy Obedience. But Our Lord is with us wherever we are, as long as we do not go away from him, which I try not to do, as far as I can, amidst distractions of the world.? (Life in Letters p.103).

Joy in Obedience

APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

While Sister Veronica was at Versailles, she received her orders to go as superior to Tremorel, Brittany, France. She gladly accepted her obedience though she is uncertain what waits her there. This is what her inner dispositions are, ?Dear Mother your least wishes are for me orders from God. I knelt down immediately, and offered to do his holy will in everything, whatever be the sacrifice awaiting me? Mother, I am happy deep within, or rather in the One who alone is our happiness; all the rest is of no consequence. I myself find this great grace our Lord is granting me, inconceivable.? (Life in Letters ps.106-107).

Commitment to Mission

APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

The community In Tremorel faced many problems on every side. The resources were scarce. The government paid a pittance to the religious teachers. Sister Veronica, the superior of the community acutely felt the difficulties of less personnel, her ill health and financial hurdles even to cater to the basic needs of the community and mission. Her deep faith in God's providence kept her going cheerfully. She pens to Mother Emilie Julien, "The good God permits everything to put us to the test. I have placed everything in his hands, and I am asking him to give me enough strength to teach and to be able to do all that has to be done..." (Life in Letters ps.127-28).

Courage

APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

Sister Veronica's letters reveal that adversities in the mission did not deter her from facing hardships. She possessed undaunted faith in God. What drained out her inner dynamism was Mother Emilie Julien's long silence for whatever reasons. She needed caring support during this crucial time. She felt dejected and left to herself. Thus, she writes, "Alas dear Mother, how painful a responsibility it is to be a superior! I need so many virtues I do not possess, in order to know how to steer safely between reefs, and to extricate myself from difficulties, without myself failing and causing others to fail. (Life in Letters ps.130).

Prudence

APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

Sister Veronica begins her letter to Mother Emilie Julien," I had the happiness of receiving your letter. To start with, dear Mother, forgive me if I have hurt you or said things you did not want me to say. I did not do intentionally... if you, like me, had seen so distressing a duplicity as I experienced... you would realize that I need more than ordinary prudence, not to do and say foolish things." (Life in Letters ps.132)

Generosity

APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

There was an urgent need to furnish the chapel at Tremorel. But she had no means. So, she let go of the one treasure she most valued which was her golden watch given by her mother, which she calls the 'mysterious watch'. She asks for the permission to exchange it for a silver one and spend the remaining money to buy a ciborium, for without that they were unable to reserve the Blessed Sacrament. We see her priorities of life. In the midst of utter poverty, one can sense her spirit of generosity to consider others' needs before hers, and live in contentment as she calls it "holy poverty". She concludes, "The good God will come to our help, and so will St. Joseph." (Life in Letters ps.133)

Faith in the Lord

APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

In Tremorel, difficulties of all sorts, mounted up one by one upon Sister Veronica. Besides finance and lack of personnel, her ill health took a toll on her. It was her regular practice, to pour out her struggles to the superior general: "How I wish I had pleasant things to tell you! Later on, the good God will give me the grace to have some, but for the time being I am surrounded by very dark and threatening clouds, and the weather is morally and physically awful. As for me I entrust everything into the hands of my good God, our holy Treasure whom we possess so near us, and I pray him to ease our minds and to settle everything, for I am incapable of doing that." (Life in Letters ps.135)

Joy in Suffering

APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

Sister Veronica was seriously ill and had become physically every weak. In this situation classroom teaching would have had serious consequences. But there was none to replace her. The rector and his vicar took up her teaching responsibility for a while. She informs her condition to Mother Emilie, "I am inclined to sing, as did the poor leper in the woods, because the wall between him and his God was crumbling down. I don't think I shall live much longer. I am ever ready to do his holy will. I am happy; calm... I am suffering in body and mind." (Life in Letters ps.149-50)

Spirit of Resignation

APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

Responsibilities in Tremorel mission were always on the rise. Besides school responsibilities, the church work of preparing children for First Communion and Confirmation were to be seen by just a few sisters. At this critical time, there were no hands to assist Mother Veronica. In her helplessness she writes, "All I can do is to pray that the good God and the Holy Virgin... will help us and give us patience. I need a lot of patience, because when you are ill and cannot do what has to be done and yet everybody expects it of you, you are often inclined to be irritable and impatient." (Life in Letters ps.153)

Concern for the sisters

APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

The mission at Tremorel was challenging one. In spite of the repeated requests for one more member for the community, there was undue delay in sending the promised personnel. This was one of the poorest missions in material resources. Responsibilities in the school parish mission, and preparation for bishop's visit to the parish were taking a toll of the few sisters who had to be engaged in multitasking. Sister Veronica voices her concern for her community to Mother Emilie Julien, "They Speak of the missions but certainly in no other mission are the poor sisters more tired than here. All that I am afraid of is Sister Marie Ange's health... I have been obliged to go back to class for the fathers are engaged with Missions and the rector is sick. I often spit out a little blood, but what am I to do?" yet her spirit is vibrant, committed to her mission and; having presented to the superior difficulties of the community she concludes with a positive note, "Let me carry on till the end!" A joyful submission to authority and her affection for superior general, "I would have been happy to see you once again my beloved Mother." (A Life in Letters p.155)

Character

APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

Sister Veronica was given the charge of the superior in most of her communities where she was transferred. As such, she regularly corresponded with her superior generals, giving all details of their community life and mission. In her letter of April 19, 1860, she says. "I have written a long letter a fortnight ago in which I gave you a complete account of my doing." As we glean through Sister Veronica's letters to both her superiors general, one can cannot fail to notice the noble qualities of her heart. To mention a few, we find in them transparency and frankness, docility and obedience, truthfulness and directness, love and affection, ready to acknowledge one's mistakes and seeking forgiveness, and above all, a strong desire to know the will of God and do it at any cost to self. She sees God's providence and accepts His will in the minutest details of her life. She wants to see Mother Emilie in person but if God does not permit that joy, she is still grateful to God for having known her. (A Life in Letters p.155)

Simplicity

APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

Sister Veronica dearly loved her superior general. With such ease like a child, she expresses her affection, saying, "I shall still express my gratitude to God for having known you, and of having loved you so tenderly, with all the devotedness of my heart. She continues. "If you are not pleased with me and with my way of acting in the position in which you have placed me, I certainly have no desire to justify myself in any way. I recognize that I am incapable of fulfilling well, so difficult and delicate a charge. But Our Lord knows I have always acted in the simplicity of my heart. I have always consulted him and begged him to inspire me in everything- and I leave everything in his hands, and I ask him and you dear Mother, to forgive me for whatever is wrong." (A Life in Letters p.155)

Concern

APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

Sister Veronica receives obedience from Tremorel to India, a distant land. The person to replace her is delayed, which is an urgent need. She is concerned and anxious of the mission there. She is worried about the debt the convent has incurred and the immediate inability to pay it off to the rector of the parish. She feels for her mother who is losing her eyesight, gets confused and understands nothing but keeps repeating, "What shall I do when you have Left" (India). Her Mother has a desire to settle down near to her daughter, but unfortunately it does not suit her. Her personal health is another concern. Her letters are full of concern for everyone particularly for the betterment of the poor mission, which she has to leave behind. Don?t we sometimes face similar situations...? We invoke Mother Veronica to inspire and accompany us do God's will. He will take care of the rest. (A Life in Letters ps.164 - 67.)

Loyalty to Congregation

APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

Sister Veronica being aware of the problems her sisters have to face at Tremorel, tries to find a way out by stating the situation so that responsible people could be of service to her congregation. Thus she writes a confidential letter to Father Privilegio, the parish priest of Syra, assigning the reason for it. "I am doing so for the good of our congregation in Brittany (Tremorel) knowing that you care so much for it. I am very distressed about the house of Tremorel, which I am obliged to leave before my substitute arrives, and I am sorely afraid that if the sisters who are needed are not sent promptly, this house will collapse... I do not know any man to whom the Sisters of St. Joseph owe more gratitude for his kindness towards them than the Rector of Tremorel. The only thing that he is asking for is good religious who possess the spirit of their holy vocation." (A Life in Letters ps.168.)

Joy of Belonging to Catholic Church

APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

Since the time Sister Veronica is received into the Catholic Church, she encounters hardships of all sorts. In all her letters, we do not hear a word of regret. She is proud to be a devoted daughter of the Catholic Church. Sister Veronica's heart is set on the mission; she is convinced of the need of committed members. She is confident that Father Privilegio who is well known to her superior general would intervene and save the mission at Tremorel. She recommends herself to his prayer especially when he holds Our Lord in his hands. She cherishes her call to the Catholic Church, and with profound humility and gratitude to God she repeats, "I consider myself to be a poor woman who was once steeped in Protestantism and who has had the ineffable happiness of finding perfect peace in the bosom of our Holy Mother the Catholic Church." (A Life in Letters ps.168.)

Affectionate Bond of Protestant Mother and Catholic Daughter

APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

Sister Veronica before leaving for India is given the happiness of spending a few days with her mother in Paris. Her Mother is still longing to spend the last days close to her daughter. At one time, she was ashamed of going out with this daughter; she now wants to have a longer stay with her. A marvelous change and total acceptance of her Catholic daughter. Finally, the mother decides for herself saying, "No one compels me to do anything. I do what I want, and I know the sisters will be good to me as they were in Montigny and Tremorel". At the end of September 1861 Sister Veronica with permission takes her mother to their convent at Marseilles where the community of sisters shower on her every possible care. Sister Veronica's last concern for her mother is that her darkened mind may be enlightened. (A Life in Letters ps.169.)

Criteria for Vocation Promotion

APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

Sister Veronica's letter to Mother Emilie Julien from Marseilles dated September 29, 1861, reveals that she went in search of an English lady to bring along with her to India, but found none. However, they had a postulant aged 25 who she felt would be suitable for the Indian mission. Sister Veronica describes her character as charming; she is devoted and pious, and ardently desires to go about confidently; although she is not very educated. Sister Veronica tells the superior general that she would be happy to take the postulant with her. The reason behind it "I like that child very much. We can see she has a real vocation; it is seen on her open and candid face. You will like her I am sure. She has had plenty of difficulties in entering the convent, but I feel she would be a consolation to me, in a country where we need hearts devoted and solid, even though she is not very educated." (A Life in Letters ps.171.)

Courage

APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

Sister Veronica assumed that Mother Emilie Julien would send a good and firm superior to Tremorel community, as it was the need then. When she came to know that Sister Lucienne would be appointed superior, Sister Veronica was deeply troubled for a community of three members all of them were related. To avoid a greater harm Sister Veronica courageously expresses her mind to Mother Emilie, "It will never do to form a community of two sisters and their cousin, for they are all related. "Ah! If only I could speak to you! If God gave me this grace, you would understand things you could never have imagined in your life! As for me, the more I go about the more I see how shamefully and ungratefully you have been deceived. (A Life in Letters ps.171.)

Prudence

APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

Sister Veronica's letters divulge that God blessed her with a discerning mind and heart. Sensing that the superior general is fenced by mischievous persons she gently cautions her, "My dear, beloved Mother, you are too good and you would need around persons who have your spirit, which is certainly guided by that of God. But unfortunately, there are ambitious, crooked, two-faced persons who cut the grass under your feet. God will render to each according to her deeds." (A Life in Letters ps.172.)

Spirit of Obedience

APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

Sister Veronica's journey to India was delayed by some months, as she was required to nurse Mother Emilie Julien who had broken her leg just at that time. They sailed for India only at the end of December. She was not fortunate to have the companion whom she felt would be good for the Indian mission. Instead, Sister Marie Joseph, a novice with melancholic temperaments accompanied her to India. She lacked strong will and courage, she was troubled and had no desire to proceed from Malta onward to India. Sister Marie Joseph's fickle minded childish behavior did distress Sister Veronica who single handedly had to fight many odds on the long voyage. She sighs, "What a misfortune to have such persons!... The good God offers me his holy and loving cross on all sides. Fiat." (A Life in Letters ps.174.)

Joy and Sacrifice

APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

Sister Veronica faced plenty of trouble on the voyage and was full of anxiety because of her novice?companion who at mid sea wanted to return to France. She said it was against her conscience to come to India. Meanwhile at Alexandria when the Ship anchored for some days, an arrangement was made to replace her. The indecisive novice kept changing her decision, to go and not to go in the middle of the sea. Sister Veronica, wearied and worn out, writes to her superior general, that it would have been better to send her back rather than having a disedifying and discontented subject in a faraway country where one must at least have peace and interior joy because one willingly sacrifices and gives up all that is exterior. (A Life in Letters ps.175.)

Choice of Committed Persons

APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

Sister Veronica is still on her voyage to India. To her superior general, she gives detailed information of the passage. In another letter, she speaks of the escalating trouble with her companion. She reminds Mother Emilie Julien, "We must make a good choice of the subjects we send to India." Her message of January 1862 holds good even in our times. The pioneering band of sisters should be joyful, committed and self-effacing, the stamp of the charism of the congregation should be manifested by its members for a new mission to flourish. (A Life in Letters ps.177.)

Adjustment

APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

To Sister Veronica and party, the trip from France to India took a little over two months. Sure, it must have been quite a tedious one for the travelers. Sister Veronica's patience appears to be sapped; she voices her feeling to Mother Emilie Julien, "Mother how the good God wishes to try me but not without my surrender, for I have confidence that in the end all will turn out for the best. You will understand how ashamed before fathers and sisters of St. Vincent, I am of this affair... However, this will be a good lesson for the stubborn child, she says she is acting against her conscience. She feels it is God's will that she obeys but she has no courage to go ahead... this sister criticizes everything, is annoyed with everything. For nothing in the world, would I have taken anyone with me by force to such a distant country. I would rather travel alone than with such a burden, and with one who has neither courage nor strength of soul except in words. The superiors at Alexandria advised me not to take her by any means." s(A Life in Letters ps.176-77).

Spiritual Nourishment

APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

We come to understand the anguish sister Veronica experienced about her companion. Life is never one-sided. We now listen to her little joys of the journey. A Carmelite priest Fr. Clement also accompanied Mother Veronica to India. In her letters, a number of times she makes a reference of him. He was a pleasant companion; she was pleased with him. He had carried with him a portable altar to offer mass during their travel to India. She mentions to Mother Emilie Julien, of his good conduct, and missionary spirit. She went to him for confession and was happy about it. While speaking out all her inconveniences of the journey, she candidly says, "My dear Mother, in spite of my troubles I am happy both in mind and heart and spirit. God has given me this grace and nothing harms me." Almost all her letters she ends with a positive encouraging note. (A Life in Letters ps.178)

Courage and Patience

APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

After a long tedious and difficult cruise, the Marseilles party arrived at Cannanore, India, on 1 March 1862. From Point de Galles amidst a cyclone for 10 days, they travelled in a merchant ship. When the sea was calm they were let down in a country boat. After 24 hours in this boat, they disembarked at Cannanore in the evening at 8. o'clock. They were greatly disappointed to learn that Fr. Marie Ephrem had just passed by the same evening on his way to Mangalore. Now, they awaited Monsignor's orders from Mangalore, where they should go next. The troubles with the companion sister were yet not over; she only spoke about Marseilles, her parents, of boredom and abandoning her vocation, she kept attacking everyone, always complaining , murmuring and not pleased with anything and returning to France. Sister Veronica writes to her superior general, "It is a pity to have such person who has to be dragged as if by force to this country." The entire episode reminds us of the importance of sending persons with right motivation particularly to a challenging mission in a distant land. (A Life in Letters ps.179-80)

Destiny at Last

APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

As per Monsignor's instructions, Sister Veronica and party came from Cannanore to Mangalore, on 7 March 1862. Sister Veronica was installed as superior at the new convent at Calicut on 27 April 1862. Since then she came to be known as Mother Veronica. From India, she keeps her superior general informed of everything that is of importance for her to know. She is also in touch with the religious superiors of all the Carmelite priests of South Indian province; Monsignor Michael Anthony of Mangalore and Monsignor Bernardino, Archbishop of Verapoly, Father Syndique, an office bearer in the OCD Generalate in Rome and people responsible to some extent, for the Mangalore mission. (A Life in Letters ps.173.)

Appreciation

APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

On reaching Mangalore, they had another disappointment that Monsignor Michael Anthony with two sisters and postulants just left for Calicut to begin a new foundation. However, Sister Veronica as she set ashore was consoled and immensely happy to find Fr. Marie Ephrem. She writes to Mother Emilie Julien, "You know how much I loved this holy man even before knowing him well... I feel that God ordained that I should meet this man of God on my arrival here, for he immediately accepted me as his daughter, as if he had known me all along. I cannot explain what it is that is so appealing about his personality. One feels, one sees that he is a man inflamed with the love of God and neighbour... he leads you by the perfect way ? total obedience and renunciation... One feels he is a person to whom you can entrust the direction of your soul" (A Life in Letters ps.182.)

Resignation

APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

Sister Veronica was gifted with perceiving situations and persons at the first glance. She is full of affection and appreciation for Sister Therese. She speaks of her as an excellent, just, upright, and sincere person, ruthlessly reserved at first sight like the English. Sister Veronica appreciates her very much and they get on perfectly by God's grace. She says, "I do not know in what capacity I am placed in this house. I was a bit interiorly disturbed but with the advice from Father Marie Ephrem, I asked Sister Therese to dispose of me as if I had come to live under obedience in this house - that it suits me better than to have to give orders and that I am ready to make myself serviceable in any way that I can." (A Life in Letters ps.183.)

Importance of Care and Hapiness

APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

When Sister Veronica came to Mangalore, she sensed that all was not well in the diocese. The priests of the diocese were not happy with Monsignor Michael Anthony their bishop. The priest felt that he was not concerned about them at all. While writing to Mother Emilie Julien, Sister Veronica endorses what they had already heard in Rome. "Everybody adores Father Marie Ephrem and has recourse to him, for the bishop is not loved at all. They would like to have him leave but he does not change and does not care about anyone. Sister Therese - (Superior of St. Joseph in Mangalore) knows how to deal with him and so she does what she likes. Fortunately, she is a prudent person? He (monsignor) is good hearted but wishes everything to be according to his way of thinking; otherwise, for all he cares, those who say the least thing can die, even if they be saints. The poor priests are very unhappy." (P183-84)

Desire to do what is right

APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

Father Syndique, the office bearer in the Carmelite Generalate in Rome had asked Sister Veronica for a report on the state of affairs of the diocese with regard to the relationship between the bishop and his priests. She gave a superficial report, explaining that in her opinion one of the priests and not she should give the report. A wise decision indeed! However, she gives an overall feel of the situation. "I do not think this mission can continue, considering how it is functioning at present." She makes it clear, "I can give you no details because it is not I who must do so, since it seems to me that it is not the work of a religious... only I pray you in all this, to spare the good Father Marie Ephrem." She affirms, "The rumors about which you spoke to me in confidence before I left Rome have spread... Father Clement, our excellent travelling companion... will soon give you the details that you desire... I take liberty in speaking of these matters; but your repeated entreaty and wish, that you expressed to me before I left Rome, oblige me to speak to you of these matters- else I would never have dared to interfere." (A Life in Letters ps.185- 87.)

Communication

APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

Sister Veronica speaks of the ongoing troubled situation of Mangalore to her superior general. She does not want to send any information without the knowledge of the superior general, and encloses Father Syndique?s letter in her superior general's letter. She writes, "I am sending you a letter which I beg you to read and forward to good Father Syndique, if you think it feasible. Matters are urgent here. It is necessary for the authorities in Rome to put some order here. Otherwise, there is be no one left in this Mission. Carmelites will be forced to abandon it, and the Jesuits will come. Though I love the dear Jesuits, I would be sorry for these good Carmelites who worked so much here, sweated blood, so to speak, and they are so devoted to us." She continues, "If you only knew the anguish of this dear Father (Marie Ephrem) at the rumors that are being circulated about the honour which awaits him ? he would like to escape, but he is bound by obedience." (A Life in Letters ps.188- 89.)

Unity

APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

Sister Veronica shares with her superior general her experiences of her short stay in Mangalore. She studied the overall pulse of the mission the pleasant things and apprehension of the future. About of Monsignor, she writes, "No one has particular affection for him although he does all he can for the sisters". She appreciates Sr. Therese the superior of Mangalore. "She is a good and excellent person- we get on perfectly with each other, and she can be sincerely attached to you. I hope that at least in Malabar your daughters will be of one heart and mind and that there will be no disputes and jealousies as in several other places. (A Life in Letters p. 189.)

Devotion of Mother of Carmel

APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

Since Mangalore Malabar diocese was administered by the Carmelite priests, religious who served in the diocese shared the heritage and privileges of Carmelite devotion. Sister Veronica says, "Like all the sisters in this mission, I am now a Carmelite of the Third Order. On the feast of Annunciation, Sister Marie Joseph and I were received and clothed with the scapular of the Blessed Virgin Mary and of St. Teresa- we say the Office, that is something nice.... I always have a great devotion to it." (A Life in Letters p. 190.)

Significane of Calicut Mission

APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

Fr. Marie Ephrem was aware that Sister Veronica was loved and esteemed by Mother Emile Julien her superior general. In replying to her letter he states, "Good sister Veronica, your tenderly devoted daughter, sent me the letter, which you had addressed to me. I thank you very much for having remembered me." In the same letter of 31 March, he writes, that when Sister Veronica arrived with her companion in Mangalore, Monsignor left with two sisters to Calicut, for the foundation from Mahe which would be shifted to Calicut., and they are held up here. Calicut may be of more importance than Mahe, where much good could be done. (A Life in Letters p. 191-92.)

Prized Pearl

APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

Father Marie Ephrem perceived Sister Veronica as a pearl of great price; appreciating her giftedness, he writes to Mother Emilie Julien. "Reverend Mother, "What a treasure you have given us in sending us Sister Veronica! How grateful I am to you on my part! I think you will soon receive more valuable thanks than mine; but I allow myself to make the first move. May you be blessed... for having given such a sister to the mission of Mangalore, and may Our Lord be praised and glorified in everything." (A Life in Letters p. 191.)

Purity and Nobility

APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

In Mangalore, Sister Veronica made a retreat under the direction of Father Marie Ephrem. Appreciating the depth of her spirituality, he feels his unworthiness to guide such a great soul. He shares with Mother Emilie Julien, "If you had seen how happy and contented she was; well, I am sure it has done her much good. What would it then have been if she had had another guide to direct her? Well, our Lord wanted it thus." He describes, 'She is not only a very pure and very holy soul, she has an even more beautiful and noble mind and a heart full of devotion for the interests and the glory of Our Divine Master."(A Life in Letters p. 192.)

Holiness and Greatness

APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

Father Marie Ephrem admired the honorable qualities of Sister Veronica; esteeming her personality, he says to Mother Emilie Julien, "Ah! That is good to see. When I meet souls so faithful and generous, I blush for shame but on the other hand, I experience a feeling of inexpressible happiness, and I felicitate Our Lord and thank Him for having chosen in the world, holy persons who make up to for the iniquities of wicked persons, and for me specially. In this regard Reverend Mother, I have much to thank God for... to place always on my path, someone who is generous, ardent, devoted, and magnanimous, as an example for me to follow and whose fidelity ought to counterbalance my misery, my cowardice and my weakness. God be blessed now and forever." (A Life in Letters p. 192.)

Learned and Distinguished

APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

Sr. Veronica is sent by her superior general to take charge of the Calicut mission. On her arrival here, things have taken a different turn. In Mangalore, they are in a dilemma where and in what capacity she should be placed in the mission. Therefore, Father Marie Ephrem communicates his apprehension to a Carmelite priest, Father Syndique, on 31, March 1862. "Sister Veronica remains here, not knowing exactly what she has to do, but she is ready for anything." Finally, almost seven weeks later Monsignor sends a letter asking her to come to Calicut and take charge of the new establishment. He is very happy about her being placed in Calicut for the good of the new institution. Bishop had plans to make Sr. Germaine a young and inexperienced person as the superior. Father Marie Ephrem relates to Fr. Syndique about Sister Veronica in the following words: "I know Your Rev. has been very good to her; she holds you in high esteem and has a filial devotion for your Reverence. Sister Veronica is not only a person of great erudition and nobility of mind but also of eminent virtue. I believe she has been called by God to render great service to our vicariate and to her institute. She loves our Lord with all her soul... besides, I am happy to see that Sister Therese the Superior of Mangalore, appreciates her at present, and that she herself recognizes that we have been sent a real treasure." (A Life in Letters p. 193.)

Destiny

APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

Sister Veronica in her letter dated April 26, 1862, says that at last they reached Calicut, her destiny to begin her mission in India, ever to be remembered and cherished for generations to come. She tells her superior general. "Here I have I finally settle down to definite work after having dragged myself around for five months- it is five months since I left you.? Monsignor finally decided to call her. She along with Sister Marie Joseph arrived in Calicut on 25 April. After their retreat, Sister Veronica noticed a change in her companion, as she reports, "This poor child has changed completely- she has become happy, obedient docile. I pray Our Lord to continue to keep her in the good disposition... the good God wants her to be with me, his instrument, wretched though I be ? for the good of this soul. Sr. Therese was not much concerned about her but she could have kept her and tried to form her." (A Life in Letters p. 193.)

Devotion to Duty

APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

Mother Veronica has reached her destination Rangoon. She keenly observed the situation of the mission for a week. She is definitely sad to enter into such a messy state. Even before her arrival here she had heard of the unpleasant dis-edifying reports of the community. She confirms of this and seriously takes up the challenge before her. On June 28, 1864 she pens her first experience to the Superior General Mother Emilie Julien. The tenor of her letter is one of resignation for 'obedience is her life.' We listen to her, "I believe Mother that our Lord permits that you should send me to places where our sisters have difficulties, and where order has to be restored before anything can be done." (A Life in Letters page (p) 263)

Foregiveness Acceptance of Mistakes

APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

Soon after Sister Veronica and her novice companion arrived in Mangalore, they made a retreat under the guidance of Father Marie Ephrem. The retreat greatly helped both of them in their spiritual journey. It opened the door to both to understand each other, accept, forgive, and start a warm and loving relationship. Father Marie Ephrem gives a report to Mother Emilie Julien how he was instrumental in sorting out the problem. He writes, "I spoke to you of the attitude of indifference between sister Veronica and Sister Marie Joseph, so evident during the journey... although this indifference lasted for some time in Mangalore, I was not too afraid of it and I thought the misunderstanding would disappear. Today thank God, between Sister Veronica and Sister Marie Joseph there is not only better understanding, but they also love each other sincerely and very tenderly" ( A Life in Letters Vol. II p.198)

Devotion to Duty

APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

Mother Veronica has reached her destination Rangoon. She keenly observed the situation of the mission for a week. She is definitely sad to enter into such a messy state. Even before her arrival here she had heard of the unpleasant dis-edifying reports of the community. She confirms of this and seriously takes up the challenge before her. On June 28, 1864 she pens her first experience to the Superior General Mother Emilie Julien. The tenor of her letter is one of resignation for 'obedience is her life.' We listen to her, "I believe Mother that our Lord permits that you should send me to places where our sisters have difficulties, and where order has to be restored before anything can be done." (A Life in Letters page (p) 263)

Devotion of Duty

APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

Mother Veronica has reached her destination Rangoon. She keenly observed the situation of the mission for a week. She is definitely sad to enter into such a messy state. Even before her arrival here she had heard of the unpleasant dis-edifying reports of the community. She confirms of this and seriously takes up the challenge before her. On June 28, 1864 she pens her first experience to the Superior General Mother Emilie Julien. The tenor of her letter is one of resignation for 'obedience is her life.' We listen to her, "I believe Mother that our Lord permits that you should send me to places where our sisters have difficulties, and where order has to be restored before anything can be done." (A Life in Letters page (p) 263)

Total Commitment to God

APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

Father Marie Ephrem is able to appreciate the goodness in both his retreatants although both are poles apart in their temperaments. Describing Sister Veronica, he writes to her superior general, "Sister Veronica is a person of an altogether different temperament. She is fervent, generous and full of devotion to Our Lord. Like all persons converted from Protestantism after a long struggle, she is wholly given to God, filled with magnanimous desires, and wants to be perfect." (A Life in Letters Vol II p.199)

Perfection

APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

Sister Veronica by her very nature seems to be doing everything in perfect ways. Though this beautiful quality has its merits, it could also pose difficulty for the persons who are otherwise. Father Marie Ephrem while appreciating goodness in Sister Veronica, also points out her weakness. He writes to the superior general, "But she seems to be lacking in one thing. Drawn to the bosom of the Catholic Church and into the religious life by a special grace, endowed by heaven with exceptional favours, having a lofty idea of the obligations the title of Christian entails, and also of one consecrated to God, she could not have taken into account the providential and exceptional way in which she had been blessed, and so does not know how to be compassionate towards the weakness and imperfections of others." (A Life in Letters Vol. II p.199)

Virtue of Humilty

APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

While recognizing in Sister Veronica her conscientiousness in living her life as perfectly as she could, Father Marie Ephrem also perceives her major drawbacks and brings them to her attention. He then reports to her superior general in this manner, Sister Veronica does not sufficiently understand that a person who enters religion and is only a novice ( like Marie Joseph ) is not obliged to be actually perfect, but has only to persevere in working to become so. Besides, the least defect on the part of others is a blot on the ideal, which she has formed, and is painfully shocking to her. This explains her lack of patience, sweetness and even charity sometimes... The root cause of it all, I must say is a lack of humility. (A Life in Letters Vol II p.199)

Obedience above Conviction

APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

When we further delve into the personality of Sister Veronica, it is apparent she does not go by any opinion unless she is convinced or on obedience. Therefore, Father Marie Ephrem says that the natural rigidity of her character goes perfectly with the inflexibility of her principles." He continues, "As she is very virtuous and has a great desire for perfection, Our Lord allowed her to submit to any reasoning not only with her heart and her conscience given over to my cause, but with a mental conviction that she was wrong. This mental struggle lasted more than a month... she made every effort to abide by way of seeing things, and she wanted above all to obey me, but not convinced that I was right." (A Life in Letters Vol. II p.200)

Accountability to the Superior General

APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

Sister Veronica finds some of the administrative arrangements in houses that belong to St. Joseph of the Apparition convents were not quite in accordance with the superior general's instructions. The local bishop had much to say especially in matters like appointment of the superiors in his diocese. Sister Veronica noticing such irregularities writes to Mother Emilie Julien her superior general: "The bishop, it seems... that he would like all the sisters and superiors’ in the different houses of Malabar, which would be established , to be in subjection to Sister Therese – that nothing is to be done in these houses without her instructions and her advice. So Sister Marie Germaine had to write daily and even more frequently to Mangalore, etc. Father Marie Ephrem does not approve of this at all; I know that you too would not like one local superior to interfere in the affairs of another , for that is what you told me many times." (A Life in Letters Vol II p.195)

Obedience to the Lawful Authority

APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

Mother Veronica was gifted with farsighted vision and clarity of mind in perceiving and understanding persons and events. She is always generous in recognizing the good in others and her surrounding as well as the deficiencies. I cite this example from her Letter dated April 26, 1862, to Mother Emilie Julien, on the eve of the foundation of new house at Calicut where she would be the superior of the house. She says, "As for me Sister Therese and myself, we are perfectly in agreement. I am sure that she will never claim to exercise her authority in this house nor over me, for she told me so. I feel that Monsignor will not oblige me to have recourse to her either, for he must understand that I have not received any instructions of the kind from you, who alone have the right of authority in this house and in all the houses of our congregation. Sister Therese did not however feel the great need of recognizing my mission nor responsibility that you have given me, because you did not expressly write to her." (A Life in Letters Vol. II p.195)

Realistic Approach

APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

In spite of the lack of clarity in proper communication leading to misapprehension, Sister Veronica is full of admiration for her Sisters. "The sisters are all good and excellent, but of them all, it is Sister Marie Perillon with whom I am most pleased. This religious is an angel. Father Marie Ephrem told me that he admired the virtues of this sister whom he venerated and loved... He and I do not understand how this sister was not chosen as superior, instead of Sister Germaine who is still young though a good excellent religious. Sister Marie is quite different. She is a person of solid virtue, prudent, diligent enough to keep working without a word of complaint, pious as an angel, and of a rare and striking modesty. I assure you that I have been edified by her and was sorry to let her leave. The bishop calls her 'Holy Mary and she is so in truth." God has placed us in communities where God's abundance goodness is at display. Let Mother Veronica inspire us her daughters to recognize and appreciate the varieties of jewels we have in our midst. (A Life in Letters Vol II p.196)

Priority for Spiritual Guidance

APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

Sister Veronica from her early life as a young girl gave importance for spiritual direction and sought guides who would lead her to the truth. Here in India God brought into her life Father Marie Ephrem to whom she could safely disclose her soul. With her heart full of gratitude to God she says, "When I am with this dear Father, I feel I have a support, a guide, a father. I believe I have had as much joy and consolation in this Father of my soul as Saint Teresa had in finding Saint John of the Cross, or Saint Peter Alcantara, to guide her in the ways of God... I have ever found who has been enlightened by God, in knowledge understanding how our Lord wants me to go on. I believe that God himself has sent me here to be with this holy priest in order to accomplish his plans for me…this good Father loves me as his child of predilection. Soon we find her words come true. Father Ephrem is chosen by God to lead her on her strange destiny of founding a Carmel for the mission." (A Life in Letters Vol II p.197)

Love for Jesus and Devotion to Mary

APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

Those of us who live in the Indian peninsula can well understand the heat of April, May June. This was her first experience of the heat of India. Mother Veronica writes to Mother Emilie Julien, I am so happy, Mother – I drink the whole day for the weather is very warm, but we are all well." But these physical discomforts were compensated by spiritual joys. "We possess our Beloved Lord in the Chapel... Tomorrow begins the month of Mary and we will have Benediction every day in this chapel." She inspires us to treasure Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament in all our chapels and grow in filial devotion to our Mother of Carmel. " (A Life in Letters Vol II p.197)

The 'Presense'that binds the community

APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

Mother Veronica after talking charge of St. Joseph's convent Calicut, she gives to her superior general a detailed account of her community and their mission. In her letter dated May 11, 1862 she writes, "If you know dear mother how happy we are! I assure you God gives special graces to the devoted sisters and missionaries he has called to these distant missions. We sense his holy Presence and interior peace and joy that in a wonderful way dispels every fear. Our sisters are holy, I assure you Mother, and we are all united in the bond of perfect charity. Sister Marie Joseph is no longer the same- you would think she is quite another person ever since she left Mangalore. Very often, I can scarcely believe what I see and hear, so great is the change in her. See Mother, how good it is never to refuse a cross that God wishes to thrust on us; then it becomes a blessing if it's willingly accepted." (A Life in Letters Vol II p.202-23)

Gift of Animation

APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

Mother Veronica appreciates the uniqueness of her community members as she recounts in her letter to Emilie Julien: "Sister Pauline is charming. She is good, obedient, and has the right religious spirit. In short, Mother see how happy our little community is since all of us have the happiness of receiving Holy Communion every day." She understands and agrees with the Monsignor of the dire need of Calicut mission to have English speaking sisters whom Mother Emilie Julien plans to send later. She has benevolent words for the bishop. "Monsignor is so kind to the sisters, I assure you it's only the sisters of this diocese who will have to suffer when he leaves." She has the courage to convince the Bishop that the superior general alone and not the bishop - is the legitimate and rightful authority to appoint superiors to other convents of the congregation. The Monsignor agreed and appreciated her timely intervention. (A Life in Letters Vol II p.203).

Concerns of the Mission

APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

In all letters of Mother Veronica, it is sensed that she builds up a warm affectionate bond with her superiors general. She writes from Calicut on 11 May, "Mother, at least write to me – I cannot refrain for so long without news from you. It's indeed cruel to keep me waiting for months; when I left, you were in bed and still I know nothing about your leg - if it is healed or not." It is also noticed the freedom in which she approaches Mother Emilie Julien for the needs of the mission. Here is a quite an interesting account of items she requests that are needed in a newly established mission and convent, with all description and precision. To begin with, she asks a harmonium to teach children liturgical music and singing. For the Monsignor, four wax Bambinas, three Madonnas, Statue of the Immaculate Virgin and St. Joseph each, and six table sets. She then mentions the requirements of the convent chapel and classrooms and work place. A picture of St. Joseph, vases, some meters of red and white silk, a little braid, a piece of linen and canvas for the chapel and some veils for themselves. Needles for working on canvas, some wool, some pattern for embroidering on canvas- designs for the schools. A few crucifixes for the classrooms, finally some cheap statutes of the Madonna, rosaries, pictures for children. We experience the concerned and loving heart of our Foundress. (A Life in Letters Vol. II p.205)

Love for Carmelite Devotions

APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

The Carmelites administered the Malabar Coast; as such, devotion to Mother of Carmel was blossoming. Mother Veronica says that all of them are received into the Third Order of Carmelites which is beneficial to them. The bishop and missionaries are obliged to help them; besides they share all the privileges of the Carmelites. They recite the office of Our Lady, abstain on Wednesdays, to obtain a particular blessing, every evening, spend a quarter of an hour of extra prayer and the Salve Regina is chanted after Vespers on Sundays. This practice was prevalent in Mangalore and is continued in Calicut. She writes, "I do not force anyone but all of us love to read the psalms at our Office. (for I am teaching them to chant one tune) which is truly a pleasure and besides they are learning to read Latin." (A Life in Letters Vol. II p.207)

Submissive to the AUthority

APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

No matter how good authentic or transparent one may be, human error does take place and unwanted sufferings are caused. I relate one of the incidents from the life of Mother Veronica. Rev.Fr.Chaillot, the Rector of Tremorel where she was previously misrepresented and mis- communicated to Mother Emilie Julien concerning money matters which Mother Veronica receives from her mother; according to the priest money was not to be given to the superior general without a written order from Mother Veronica. This false statement led to misunderstanding between Mother Emilie and Mother Veronica, both were upset and pained about the entire episode. She clarifies the doubts with Emilie Julien, "Mother, did this money belong to me? Besides have I not made the solemn vow of poverty? My God, how grieved I am to think that you have had such sorrow because of me! I weep when I think of it. I have given you enough pain without your having in addition to feel that I do not trust you and that I am uneasy to have you to be under your watchfulness. No, Mother, thank God I have never had the least desire to conceal even the tiniest thing from your dear and beloved vigilance in everything and for everything." (A Life in Letters Vol. II p.210)

Spirit of Magnanimity

APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

It is said when the heart is pure and hands are clean one does not need justification. We appreciate the large heartedness and nobility of Mother Veronica as she humbles herself to excuse her offender and apologizes to her superior with profound respect Mother: "I hold most dear and precious on earth; I would show you such ingratitude! God forbid; Meanwhile, my beloved Mother, I fall at your knees to beg you to pardon your poor child for the pain she has caused you, because my heart breaks to think what a source of grief this has been to you. I do not know why Fr. Chaillot told you such a thing- perhaps he thought it was so, but on my part, I know nothing, nor do I remember any such thing... He must have misunderstood things completely, you can tell him so, and that if he thinks that I am distrustful in big things as in little things concerning my mother, he is mistaken! That is enough. I do not want to say more about him; but I shall be at ease only when you have pardoned the sorrow that I have inadvertently and unwittingly caused you." (A Life in Letters Vol. II p.210-11)

Spiritual Hunger

APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

Mother Veronica expresses gratefulness for all the material assistance and care shown to her community by Bishop Michael Anthony. However she could not find in him a spiritual guide. She felt confident to seek spiritual guidance from Father Ephrem. While he was away in Mangalore she missed his presence. It is observed in her letters as she writes to Mother Emilie Julien on July 9, 1862, "I feel abandoned ever since I came to Calicut, as Father Marie Ephrem has stayed on at Mangalore until Monsignor, who is here, gets back. He (Bishop) is good to us with regard to the temporal, but you can imagine what a sacrifice it is for me as well as for poor Sister Marie Joseph not to have Father Marie Ephrem. We say Fiat and we await in patience the time when God will bring him back to us." (A Life in Letters Vol. II p.211)

Judiciousness in Communication

APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

At the time of Mother Veronica's arrival to India, all was not well in the diocese between the Bishop and his priests. She was instructed by Father Syndique OCD, (Joseph Louis), at the Carmelite Generalate in Rome to report to him about the situation here in the diocese. However Mother Veronica was convinced that it was not her responsibility but any of the priests should communicate to their authorities the gravity of the situation. At Father Syndique was insistent, she did write without giving all details, so he reproaches her for the lack of clarity. Mother Veronica who was an open book to her superior general writes, "You will appreciate Mother, that it is not I who should furnish reports on such delicate and serious matters. I see more and more that this Mission absolutely needs a panacea at present... I try to act entirely according to the advice of my good Father. I have been quite foolish and disobedient once, in going my way and I have indeed regretted it." (A Life in Letters Vol. II p.212)

Reverential Courage

APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

Experiences teaches us many lessons of life, so too with Mother Veronica. To balance between the mission superiors and the superior of the congregation she required grace and wisdom. It is observed again in her letter of August 4, 1862, from Calicut, "Dear Mother, so many things have happened here since I last wrote to you. However, Monsignor has forbidden me to write to you immediately and what is more, as he even wanted to forbid me absolutely to speak to you on this subject, I was obliged to tell him he has nothing to do with what goes on between you and me and that I would write to you what I pleased and that it was my duty to tell you everything. Finally, to satisfy him, I delayed a little in writing to you." (A Life in Letters Vol. II p.213)

Desire to live a Holy Life

APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

Sister Marie Joseph the novice who accompanied Mother Veronica to India had not still settled down to the religious way of life. Father Marie Ephrem who guided her with paternal concern could not convince her to live a committed life. She wanted to go back to France. Monsignor who was dissatisfied with her conduct wanted to send her back to Europe. Mother Veronica tells Mother Emilie Julien, "We lack nothing here, (Calicut) dear Mother, in order to be happy and to become saints - great saints. I assure you that the other two dear children I have with me, Sister Pauline and Anne Marie follow this holy and beautiful path. I need further conversion. I hope that our Lord will give me this grace, with the help of this good Father whom he has given me, if now I do not become all that he wants, I shall be a reprobate all my life, as graces and blessings have been lavished on me." (A Life in Letters Vol. II p.218)

Passion for God and His Mission

APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

Mother Veronica loved God passionately and committed herself to draw people to God. This is what she shares with Mother Emilie Julien in her letter of 3 September 1862, "If India is a torture for some, I tell you that for me I find it a Paradise - I shall willingly live and die here. Our Lord is so near; one feels that he needs so to say, persons to work for him to win souls for him, to snatch them away from Satan, and that he rejoices when a soul is presented to him." She continues, "If you knew what a feast it is for us on the days when we have the Blessed Sacrament exposed the whole day in our dear little chapel! It seems to be a paradise and so it is. I would then not exchange it even with our jewel of a chapel in the dear house of Rome. It is so conducive to devotion and recollection and our dear sisters are so inflamed with love of this Eucharistic Lord; our children, even the smallest one, so eager to keep sweet company with him." (A Life in Letters Vol. II p.218)

Discernment and Obedience to God's Will

APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

Mother Veronica appreciates the spiritual guidance received through Father Marie Ephrem. She says, "I cannot thank God enough for the gift of this saintly priest as my director. I had to travel 3000 leagues to find the one God had ordained to guide my poor soul on the path he marked out for me - but it was worth the trouble in discerning and doing God's will." She writes, "How happy and content I am. True, I have always been so from the time I became a religious, and everywhere; but now my joy exceeded that... Our Lord knows how to fulfill his promise to repay a hundredfold, even in this life, the smallest sacrifices made for him." (A Life in Letters Vol. II p.220)

Gratitude for God's Blessings on the Mission

APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

Mother Veronica is overjoyed to note that both Bishop Michael Anthony and his priest Father Marie Ephrem is at peace with each other. She writes to Emilie Julien, "There is peace now. The good God works gently, but surely, and his holy will is accomplished in his time. God wills that we do not put any obstacles in the way of his Divine Will, in order that his divine and holy blessings be showered abundantly on our dear Mission." She also speaks of the marvelous progress taking place since their new convent has stated, they have 24 members, 8 are orphans. Most of them are newly baptized and more were coming forward to receive the light of faith. It was her delight to instruct the Catechumens. She was anxious to master Malayalam quickly to teach catechism to Catechumens. (A Life in Letters Vol. II p.221- 22)

Spiritual Warfare

APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

Mother Veronica from her childhood had developed a sensitive and delicate conscience. She was mindful of her inner struggles. She discloses to Mother Emilie Julien, "Personally, I am so happy and content right here in India, that I would like to remain here always... it is very strange. I have always been happy wherever I went, but if there is such a possibility as that of being even happier than I ever was before, even though I am certainly not always on a bed of roses, quite the contrary, still it is better to lie on thorns than on roses." She is completely aware of the struggles she has to face from within and outside of her. She sighs, "How long shall the struggle, against self and against the spirit of darkness which assails us on all sides, continue? (A Life in Letters Vol. II p.227)

Seed of Carmel is Sowed

APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

In the last few months of 1863, several important developments began. Archbishop Bernardino of Verapoly proposed that Mother Veronica start a foundation in his diocese at Cochin. The proposal having accepted by Mother Emilie Julien and Bishop Michael Antony, preparations were afoot. About the same time, Mother Veronica began to feel a strong call to Carmel, and Father Marie Ephrem helped her to make discernment and recognize that the call was indeed from God. This vocation of Mother Veronica seemed to the bishops of Mangalore, Verapoly and Quilon to be an answer to their aspirations to have their schools run by indigenous sisters of their own order and to offer them a foundress for such an undertaking. But, before anything definite could be arrived at, Mother Veronica received orders from Mother Emilie Julien to proceed to Rangoon as superior of the convent of the sisters of St. Joseph there. So for the present, all had to be left in abeyance. (A Life in Letters Vol. II p.242)

Obedience to Superiors

APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

Monsignor Bernardino had planned to establish a school at Cochin administered by Sisters of St. Joseph. Father Marie Ephrem was convinced that Mother Veronica was the right person who would be able to do immense good at Cochin. She was well disposed to obey the decisions of her superiors. She writes from Calicut to Father Syndique on December 2, 1863, "I am glad and always be by the grace of God, perfectly happy and satisfied with all the decisions that superiors consider to be prudent and proper. It seems to me that they should be well instructed in everything. As a result, we shall be easily persuaded that the good God directs their counsels and in perfect calm we will wait for the outcome as long it pleases His Majesty to try us. (A Life in Letters Vol. II p.247)

Acceptance of Sufferings

APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

Mother Veronica treasures the priceless value of the Cross and of suffering, and she does not want to evade any of them. She writes to Father Syndique, "The reason that induces me not to desire or even ask for a change of mission, precisely because I fear that our Lord might chastise me for my failure in not making use of the graces with which he is overwhelming me in the form of persecutions and calumnies... since he wills only the adverse in almost everything that befalls me, and I feel that I am worthless in the estimation of others... Our Lord has named me Veronica. He has begun to chisel the rough block; must I refrain his Hand? (A Life in Letters Vol. II p.247)

Significance of Sufferings

APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

Humans are bound to make mistakes. In religious life issues and situations are sometimes misinterpreted and innocent persons become the butt of it. Mother Veronica had her share in abundance. Mgr. Michael Antony, a rather difficult person to deal with, was now and again prejudiced against the convent for no reason. He was disillusioned listening to false reports. In such painful situations we notice her sublime dispositions, "God permits everything to try us and, with the grace of God, I would certainly not like to refuse any cross which he sends me, nor justify myself when falsely accused. Sufferings, crosses and persecutions are too precious to forgo, when one knows their true value." (A Life in Letters Vol. II p.250)

The Pillar of Strength - Agony and Passion of our Lord

APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

Life in Calicut has not been always a smooth sailing for Mother Veronica. She experienced difficulties misunderstanding and feelings of jealousy from her own sister whom she trusted, Sister Therese the superior of Mangalore convent. Living in a foreign land finding no consolation she shares her anguish with Father Syndique who knew the problems in the Indian Mission. In her letter dated April 21, 1864 from Calicut she writes, "I find myself without any support and without any human consolation in a foreign land. Naturally sometimes, lassitude sets in, as one does not know on which side to turn for spiritual or temporal help. Then the thought of the Holy Passion of our Saviour and his Agony in the Garden, where he suffered all manner of dereliction, much more than we can imagine, is a source of courage to rise up and continue the struggle. This reflection alone is enough for me." (A Life in Letters Vol. II p.257)

Obedience - The infallible guide

APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

Mother Veronica shares with Father Syndique about her call to Carmel. She says, "The first time that this seed was implanted and which now has taken root in my soul, was not at all at a time of tribulation and desolation. It was at a time when I was overwhelmed with heavenly graces and blessings. It is true that violent attacks were never wanting but then I kept close to a spiritual guide, who discerned the will of God for me, and without his advice, I did nothing; I am not afraid of anything, for obedience is the only infallible guide... My heart was bent on Carmel." (A Life in Letters Vol. II p.258)

Prompt Obedience

APOSTOLIC CARMEL CONGREGATION

Mother Veronica is given orders from Mother Emilie Julien to leave for Rangoon at a time Archbishop Bernardino's much desired wish was that she should take up the Cochin mission and all preparations were on with the consent of the superior general. The sudden transfer to Burma came as a surprise and a blow to Mother Veronica and others as well. At this juncture we pause a while and learn to imbibe her attitude as she responds to Mother Emilie Julien, “Dear Mother, I believe that you know already from experience that when you give orders or even just desire something of me, I hasten, nay I fly in obedience, and that promptly. But I admit to you that in this case, obedience (although I shall carry it out) is painful because I believe that if you really knew the circumstances in which we are placed, vis-a vis Mgr. the Archbishop of Verapoly, your prudence and your goodness of heart are too great to want to upset him." (A Life in Letters Vol. II p.261- 62)

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Strange Destiny

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Life of letters