Venerable Mother Veronica of the Passion the Foundress of the Apostolic Carmel Congregation (1823-1906)
Mother veronica was born as 'Sophie Leeves' in 1823 in Istanbul, capital of the Ottoman Empire, to the Reverend Henry Daniel Leeves, an Anglican chaplain to the British Embassy there, and to Sophia Mary Haultain, the daughter of a Colonel in the British army.
She was gifted with singular talents of mind and heart along with the artistic and linguistic skills which were nurtured by sound education and wide experience. When Leeves was in her teens a change came over her. She spent long hours in prayers. She was like a child crying for the light. Her spirit craved for something that was beyond her reach. She did not know what she wanted. God had his plans for her. Mrs. Leeves and others were annoyed at this. But Sophie felt that God was leading her to unknown paths. God took possession of her heart so powerfully that she broke off the engagement she had made with Kenneth-a young and handsome naval officer. In spite of her mother’s strong opposition she embraced the Catholic faith on February 2nd 1850 at Malta and then responded generously to the call to Religious Life. She entered the Congregation of the Sister of St. Joseph of the Apparition in 1851 taking the name Sister Mary Veronica of the Passion.
In 1863 Veronica was assigned to teach at the congregation's foundation in India, sent at the request of Bishop Marie Antony, O.C.D., who had appealed to France for assistance to hand over the education of youth to religious. As a preliminary step he had bought a house at Calicut (now Kozhikode) in 1860 and fitted it up for a convent and at the request of the people opened a school there on 1 April 1862, calling it St. Joseph's School. Mother Veronica and Sr. Mary Joseph, after a long and tiring voyage and a brief halt at Mangalore, arrived there on 27 April 1862, and took charge of the school. She served as the first Superior of the convent and spent two years teaching at both Mangalore and Kozhikode.
It was there that Veronica met Father Marie Ephrem of the Sacred Heart Garrelon, O.C.D. He, along with the other Discalced Carmelite friars who provided pastoral care for western India, had long envisioned a group of teaching Sisters to provide an education to the women and girls of the region. The friar felt that Sister Veronica was an excellent candidate to lead this effort, which coincided with her own inner call to join the Carmelite Order.
After much reflection and anguish, Veronica accepted the call to start such a foundation. She left the Sisters of St. Joseph and returned to France, where she entered the Discalced Carmel of Pau as a novice. After her profession, Sister Veronica embarked on the formation of a small group of European women who had joined to start the foundation in India, living in a house in Bayonne. They officially formed the Congregation of the Sisters of the Carmelite Third Order Regular, known as the "Apostolic Carmel", on 16 July 1868, the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.
A small group of three sisters left for India, under the leadership of Mary of the Angels, A.C., who served as the first Superior General and Mistress of novices of the new congregation. They arrived in India in 19 November 1870, about the same time as Ephrem was appointed as the local bishop. Shortly after their arrival, the Sisters opened the St. Ann School for Girls.
In 1873, Veronica returned to her own monastery, the Carmel of Pau. Her life of loving surrender to God in challenging circumstances culminated in her holy death on November 16, 1906.
On 5 September 1892, the Congregation Veronica helped to found became formally affiliated with the Discalced Carmelite Order. It has grown and now has branches in various parts of India, Sri Lanka, Kuwait, Pakistan, Kenya, Rome and Bahrain. The Congregation is governed under six Provinces and centrally administered by the General Team from the General Motherhouse, Bangalore.
The Sisters of the Apostolic Carmel Congregation continue the mission begun by Mother Veronica through “PRAYER and ACTION” mainly focusing on the all sufficing Love of God experienced and shared through education and other works of Mercy.
Today Mother Veronica has been declared ‘Venerable’ by His holiness Pope Francis on July 7, 2014. The sisters of the Apostolic Carmel Congregation are striving for the cause of Mother Veronica to bless her with Sainthood. We request you too to pray earnestly through the intercession of Mother Veronica and send to us the favours received by you through our Foundress.
May our Foundress Venerable Mother Veronica of the passion be an inspiration to all
Seek God who is our only sufficiency.
God of Love and Mercy
You have poured out your gifts of grace
In abundance on your servant, Mother Veronica.
We thank you for the precious heritage
She has left to the Church
Through her single-minded search for your will
And her heroic pursuit of holiness
We humbly ask you to grant
That she may be raised to the honours of the altar
So as to be continual source of inspiration
To all who aspire to a life of close union with you
And of selfless service to others.
We ask this through Christ our Lord
And the intercession of Mary
Queen and Mother of Carmel. Amen.
Dear Venerable Mother Veronica we earnestly ask you to
Intercede with God that…….(mention the favor you are praying for)….so that
He may be glorified through you. Amen.
CAPSULES of Mother Veronica for Joyful Living:
- • Be constant in prayer
- • Truth cannot be sacrificed for Charity
- • Make yourselves small, and remain very small for there is always place for little ones.
- • Politeness and good manners are so necessary in a group for the comfort of all.
- • We ought to be respectful one to another.
- • God loves a cheerful giver.
- • God alone suffices!
- • Indeed, indeed God’s rewards are not like our rewards.