When Sr. Maria Veneranda of the Holy Spirit tells her vocation story to newcomers she always prefaces it with: "I eloped TWICE!"
Epiphany, 2995—Sr. Maria Veneranda crowned as one of the 3 Kings and showing off her trademark smile.
She was a 27 year old high-school teacher with a long held desire in her heart to enter religious life but her family, including her father who was in America, were against it. Finally, with the strength and determination that have characterized Sr. Maria Veneranda her whole life, she made tracks to the Motherhouse of the Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine of Siena with her few meager belongings in a paperbag. That was May, 1955. When her family saw that she wasn't coming home, her dad did provide for her dowry and clothing by the time she received the habit on December 12, 1955.
Sr. Maria Veneranda made her 1st Profession on December 28, 1956 and Perpetual Profession May 31, 1962 and shortly after was sent to a mission in the south of the Philippines. This was no ordinary mission house because it had been built on an old cemetery and was possessed! At Halloween, Sister, a born story teller loves to regale new and old sisters with stories of her experience there: her bed being tipped and moved around, face-clothes found dripping in the morning, windows being opened and a voice booming out, "Now we'll see who will win!" It goes without saying that this assignment was stressful Sister as well as for Sr. Maria Agnes who was also assigned there at the time.
Sr. Maria Veneranda's Solemn Profession—July 22, 1979
Sister Maria Veneranda also loves to tell us about her travel adventures. Most notable among them was a serious plane crash on October 18, 1965 when she survived only because someone pulled her out of the plane. She recalls that her concern was that she was missing a shoe! She sustained permanent damage from the crash, including migraine headaches. Later, when she felt the call to contemplative life this was a major obstacle. She says it is Our Lady who cured her and made it possible for her to transfer to the Monastery.
There was also the boat that almost capsized in a typhoon and the time she crashed her car into a tree going in reverse while learning how to drive! Needless to say, Sr. Maria Venerada is happy to stay home in the monastery!
Sister Maria Veneranda was a high school teacher, principal, and procuratrix at several of the Congregations schools both in the Philippines and in San Francisco where she was assigned in 1972 so as to be near her aging parents.
On July 22, 1975, despite the objections of her family, Sr. Maria Veneranda once again "eloped" transferring to our Monastery and began her canonical novitiate. This decision took great trust in God's will as her Dad had recently had a stroke and was paralyzed. Within a year of her transfer both her parents died and this was at a time when it was not permitted to go home to be with our parents in their illness and death.
Sr. Maria Veneranda made Solemn Profession as a Nun of the Order of Preachers on July 22, 1979. Throughout the years Sister has served the community generously especially in providing a variety of vegetables, fruit and flowers from her gardens. There is nothing that Sister can't grow! Sister continues to garden although on a much small scale.
Sister was one of the regular cooks for years and for over 30 years has sewn and maintained our caps, collars and veils—a never ending and demanding task!
Sister Maria Veneranda briefly served as despositarian and a term as Councillor, sharing with the other councillors the wisdom of her many and varied experiences.
One of the most important and yet hidden tasks that Sister provides is the making of hundreds (well, more like thousands) of "holy land bead" rosaries for our gift shop. At every recreation Sister is busy stringing and knotting rosaries determined to keep up with the demand.
Sister's great devotion to the Rosary and love for Our Lady is known throughout our community as well as her love for many hours before the Blessed Sacrament. We are grateful to God and Our Blessed Mother for the gift of Sr. Maria Veneranda to our community and the gift of her vocation to the world!
Congratulations, Sr. Maria Veneranda! May God grant you many more years!