Maryknoll, NY – Sister Vera Krass, MM, a teacher, secretary, home visitor, volunteer in Tanzania and Hawaii, died October 14, 2015, at Maryknoll Sisters Center, Ossining, NY. She was 88 years old.
Born on August 22, 1927, in Jamaica, NY, to Theodore and Lydia Loffler Krass, Sister Vera entered Maryknoll on September 2, 1955 from Our Lady of Lourdes Parish, Brooklyn, NY.
After graduating from Richmond Hill High School, Richmond Hill, NY, in 1945, she worked as a clerk at the Richmond Hill Savings Bank for three years, a secretary at Time, Inc. for a year, and a secretary in the advertising department at Fortune Magazine for a year. She also attended the Wittenberg College, OH, (1949) and the Grailville Community College, OH (1951-1953) before doing secretarial work for two years at the Missionaries of Saints Peter and Paul, MI.
Sister Vera made her First Vows at the Maryknoll Sisters Motherhouse on June 24, 1958, attained a B.S. in Education from the Maryknoll Teachers College, and began her first overseas assignment to Tanzania, where she made her final vows on June 24, 1964.
For the next five years, she taught English, biology, and history to students in Rosary College, Mwanza, and Marian College, Morogoro. Both schools were established by the Maryknoll Sisters. In addition, she worked at the Shinyanga Commercial School in 1966 where she taught typewriting and shorthand.
The following year, Sister Vera studied for four months at the Pitman College, London, UK, where she received a Shorthand Teachers Certificate. She then returned to Tanzania, serving there until she was called to the Maryknoll Sisters Center, Ossining, NY, in 1970. There, she did secretarial tasks for the President of the Congregational Leadership Team and for the Communications Department until 1973. She then studied at the Maryknoll Fathers Seminary, where she received her M.A. in Theology in 1974.
To polish her Swahili, Sister Vera attended the Makoko Language School for four months in 1975 before going to Nairobi, Kenya. In Kenya, she became Office Manager of the Secretary General’s Department and Executive Secretary of the Association of Member Episcopal Conferences in Eastern Africa “AMECA” from 1976 – 1980. Her work was an effort to assist the local church, supervise three junior staff members, and aid Bishop McCauley.
In 1981, Sister Vera was assigned once more to do pastoral work in Musoma, Tanzania. Four years later, she went back to the Center to do work in computer services before beginning her third career in 1991 as a home visitor in the Central Pacific Region in Honolulu, HI. With the Hana Like Home Visitor Program, Sister Vera advocated the prevention of child abuse and neglect. She also worked at the Homeless Solutions Transitional Shelter where she did social work with women and children.
In 1995, Sister worked with the Regional Governance Administration in Honolulu where she did clerical work. Two years later, she was called back to the Maryknoll Sisters Center to work as an office assistant at the Main House Council and a creative writer for the Development Department.
In 1999, due to the increasing vision problems, Sister Vera was assigned to Monrovia, CA, where she resided until returning, once more, to the Maryknoll Sisters Center in Ossining, NY, 2008.
Sister Vera is survived by her cousin, Hans-Hermann Speidel of Markgroningen, Germany, and her sister-in-law, Ann Krass of Port Jefferson Station, NY. Her parents, stepmother, and brother George have all predeceased her.
A vespers service will be held for Sister Vera on Monday, October 19, 2015, at 4:15 p.m. in the Chapel of the Annunciation at the Maryknoll Sisters Center at Maryknoll, NY. A Mass of Christian Burial will follow on Tuesday, October 20, 2015, at 11 a.m., also at the Center. Interment will be in the Maryknoll Sisters Cemetery on the Center grounds.
Sister Jane, a physician, started her lifelong ministry in Guatemala in 1983. She has combined spiritual and medical healing in her ministry with the poorest people.
“My one desire is to help make life more bearable for the people. Before we came (Sister Mary Lou, also a physician, is with me) little or nothing was being done in the diocese to provide even basic health care for the people living in villages along the coast. Our main focus has always been preventive medicine. We are convinced that education and prevention are essential for improving the health of the poorest people in rural areas.
“What we do is not rocket science. Because the need was so great we knew we could not impact the region by ourselves. So, we simply teach health volunteers how to diagnose, treat, and prevent the most common diseases. We follow up with them after they pass a six-week course. They go back into their communities with 20 medicines recommended by the World Health Organization to treat the diseases they have studied. We visit them and work with them and the people they serve. Overall we have 200 volunteers in this small but powerful program. This is what Jesus would do. Teach. Support. And send out to minister.”
Poverty in Guatemala is widespread and deeply entrenched. Approximately 51% of the population lives in rural areas, and most are the poorest of the country’s poor. Curable infections are an everyday problem. One of the causes is poor sanitation, especially contaminated water. The indigenous population is especially affected because of their lack of access to health, education and economic opportunities.
This is why Sister Jane’s ministry is so very important and vital to people desperately wanting a better quality of life but unable to get even basic health care. And this is why your support is such a blessing. Thank you for your assistance for all our Sisters who are deeply committed to making God’s love visible.
Thanksgiving is a time of coming together with family and friends – and sharing a meal together.
Please pray for Sister Jane and all our Sisters serving in the most troubled spots in our world. Thank you for helping us make life easier and happier for the very poor. You are truly a blessing this Thanksgiving.
MARYKNOLL, NY — Maryknoll Sisters will hold their annual International Bazaar on Saturday, October 24, 2015, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Maryknoll Sisters Center, 10 Pinesbridge Rd., Ossining, NY.
Featuring handicrafts from our mission sites, including Asia, Africa, Central and South America, as well as the Sisters themselves, the bazaar serves as a fundraiser supporting the Sisters and their humanitarian efforts around the world. It’s also an opportunity for local residents to get some of their Christmas shopping done early.
Pictured is Sister Helen Phillips, manager of the congregation’s Photo Library, showing off some of our gifts from Peru.
A free event, open to the public, the bazaar will also feature reproductions of fine Christian art, created by Sister Marie Pierre Semler, MM, as well as several raffles.
Bring your family and friends and shop early for Christmas and the holidays! For directions or other information, call 914-941-7575 or go to: www.maryknollsisters.org
Founded in 1912, Maryknoll Sisters is the first US-based congregation of women religious dedicated to foreign mission. Working primarily among the poor and marginalized in 24 countries around the world, they now number nearly 430 members from both the US and overseas.