SisterJoseph Veronica Keatinge
1917 – 2014
Born: 5th October 1917
Entered Religious Life: 7th October 1935
Died: 19th June 2014
An appreciation of Joseph Veronica Keatinge
The reflection given by Sr Phyllis Behan RSC at the Eucharistic Celebration
to celebrate Sr Veronica’s life and death
We gather this morning to remember with love, and gratitude, the life of Sr Joseph Veronica Keatinge.
She was born in Kilrush, Co Clare – a Clare woman to her fingertips, proud of her home County and her roots. Family was very important to her and she retained close bonds with all the family, loved to hear how each one was doing and holding them close to her heart.
Veronica was born 5th October 1917, was called by the Lord to give her life to Him first and foremost and secondly to the Congregation of the Religious Sisters of Charity. She responded to that call at age 18 when she entered Milltown. Catherine her sister born a year later entered Milltown two years after Veronica. They both lived for a time in Ireland but only lived together for 3 years in Lakelands after Catherine returned from the United States and before Catherine died in 2001. Veronica missed her terribly.
Veronica remained in Ireland all her life and over the 79 years she spent in religious life she graciously moved where she was sent beginning after the Novitiate, in St Patrick’s Kilkenny, then to Clonmel, Cappagh, Foxford, Bray, St Joseph’s Kilkenny, Clonmel again, Howth and then when she retired she moved to Lakelands where she died peacefully last Thursday.
Life for Veronica, as for most people, was filled with ups and downs, good experiences and stressful times. Throughout it all she steadfastly held to her Lord, and in her retirement particularly, she spent a lot of time in the Chapel before the Blessed Sacrament.
Sometimes when she had had enough of the Chapel she could be heard saying: ‘O God, O God, will you send someone to take me out of here’. And duly someone would arrive to bring her out, she would see this as an answer to her prayer.
In one record we have of Veronica, she describes herself as ‘practical’ and that was evident in the many ministries she held throughout her life. She gave equal dedication and commitment to housekeeping as she did to Home Economics Teaching, Social Work, retreat work, local leadership or assistant local leadership.
Our first reading tells us that those who die in the Lord are happy because ‘their good deeds go with them’. Veronica had a long life. She would have been 97 at her next birthday. A long life in which to do her good deeds but only those who were on the receiving end of those good deeds would know about them for Veronica was a very private person. She took the Scripture passage ‘let not your left hand know what your right hand is doing’ literally. (Matthew. 6:3)
In the second reading we are reminded to ‘think of the love that the Father has lavished on us’. Veronica received that love from God, family, Congregation, friends and gave it out again. She is described as kind, generous, and helpful. She treasured friends and kept up with them and they with her, right to the last. She was a grateful woman, ‘thank you’ being constantly on her lips.
Diminishment, and dependence which were the hallmarks of Veronica’s later life, are not easy aspects of life to deal with but Veronica bore them with patience.
Jesus in the Gospel promises ‘I am going to prepare a place for you and after I have gone and prepared you a place, I shall return and take you with me’. (John.14:2-3)
He has done that now, he has taken Veronica to Himself and she is at peace. She has as St Paul writes to Timothy: ‘fought the good fight to the end;’ she has ‘run the race to the finish;’ she has ‘kept the faith;’ (2 Timothy 4:7)
May she rest in peace. Amen.