“Living out one’s vocation can take different forms. I appreciate my long period I spent here at the Maryknoll Sisters Motherhouse. It gave me the opportunity to interact with Maryknoll Sisters, priests, seminarians, lay-missioners and Maryknoll friends who enriched my life with different experiences of their faith growth.”
Sister Veronica Mary Martin held no initial thirst to join Maryknoll. It wasn’t until she read a very tiny ad in the Sacred Heart Messenger that she felt drawn towards helping those in need through mission work. Unlike other missionaries who satisfied their passion and longings through their journeys overseas, however, Sister Veronica found her work at the Maryknoll Sisters Center, Ossining, NY, to be just as quenching – if not, more. For her, life at the Center – the heart of the community – “is part (or whole) of God’s plan for the years of [her] life.”
Born in Philadelphia, PA, on February 4, 1920, Sister Veronica graduated from John W. Hallahan Girls High School, Philadelphia, in 1937, then attended the Pierce Business College, also in Philadelphia, for two years. Upon graduation, she worked in the U.S. Census Department, Washington, DC. She terminated her service in 1941 and entered Maryknoll two months later.
Sister Veronica made her first profession of vows on June 30, 1944, at the Maryknoll Sisters Motherhouse, Ossining, NY, and her final vows three years later, also at the motherhouse. That same year, 1947, she earned a B.S. in Education from the Maryknoll Teachers College and received her first overseas assignment to Hong Kong. After a month of teaching at the Maryknoll Convent School in China, she was transferred to Hawaii where she worked as an assistant in a pre-school until 1948.
She then returned to the motherhouse (now known as the Maryknoll Sisters Center), where she worked as a clerical typist for the Sponsor Desk in the Direct Mail Office and Archives Department, and as a clerk in the United States Government Post Office at Maryknoll during the 1950s.
Although her overseas journey was brief, she states that “understanding of one’s missionary vocation naturally broadens with each encounter with those coming home (to the Center) from countries near and far. Instead of being part of just one, two or three missions, I feel so much a part of all of them by contact and friendships with those now active in missionary life, and those in our nursing home here at the Center and now are missioners of prayer.”
During the past 75 years, Sister Veronica has encountered many Maryknoll sisters, priests, brothers, and lay missioners as they travelled to their assignments all over the world. “I sincerely believe that anywhere else in the world I would never have been able to meet such giants with such faith,” she remarks. “Life here at the Center, at the heart of the Community with access to the powerhouse of prayer, our Contemplative Community, the Seminary, and the Ossining parishes, is definitely part (or whole) of God’s plan for the years of my life that were most crucial and for the years to come that hopefully will be the most peaceful!”
Since she retired in 1987, Sister Veronica’s ministry is to pray for the people of El Salvador.