Veronica Grennan, BVM (Ita), 103, died Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2016, at Marian Hall in Dubuque, Iowa. Visitation will be from 9–11 a.m. on Monday, Nov. 28, 2016, in the Marian Hall Chapel followed by a prayer service at 11 a.m. Funeral liturgy will be at 1:30 p.m. Burial is in the Mount Carmel cemetery.
She was born in Sterling, Ill., on Sept. 17, 1913, to John and Mary Loran Grennan. She entered the BVM congregation Sept. 8, 1931, from St. Mary Parish, Sterling. She professed first vows on March 19, 1934, and final vows on Aug. 15, 1939.
Veronica was an elementary and secondary school teacher and administrator in Cascade, Cedar Rapids, and Iowa City, Iowa; Chicago, Berwyn and Cicero, Ill.; Clarksdale, Miss.; Portland, Ore., and Seattle. In Rock Island, Ill., she was a secondary school counselor and teacher and served in pastoral ministry.
She is preceded in death by her parents, brothers Francis and Edward, and sisters: Mary Manetta Grennan, BVM, Marie Brophy, and Evelyn Barry. She is survived by a sister, Mary Alice Butler, Jacksonville, Fla.; nieces; nephews; and the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, with whom she shared life for 85 years.
Sister Veronica Grennan, BVM (Ita)
Marian Hall, Nov. 28, 2016
Good afternoon and welcome to the celebration of the life of our Sister Veronica Grennan.
Veronica Grennan was born on Sept. 17, 1913, in Sterling, Ill. She was the fifth of seven children born to John and Mary Loran Grennan. Veronica described her family as “an Irish Catholic family where the faith was strong, where Christian values were lived and where the children and parents were loved and respected.”
As a senior at Our Lady of the Angels High School in Clinton, Iowa, Veronica decided to enter the Sisters of Charity, BVM after graduation because she was drawn by the “prayer and the beautiful example of BVM sisters.” She entered the congregation on Sept. 8, 1931, joining her sister S.M. Manetta Grennan, and her aunt S.M. Laurencita Grennan. Veronica received the name Ita upon reception on March 19, 1932; professed first vows on March 19, 1934; and lived an amazing 85 years as a BVM.
Veronica served 47 years in education. She taught junior high at St. Patrick in Cedar Rapids, Iowa; and in Illinois at St. Thomas of Canterbury, Chicago; St. Odilo in Berwyn and Mary Queen of Heaven in Cicero. She taught in high schools in Iowa at St. Martin in Cascade, Regina in Iowa City, and St. Patrick in Cedar Rapids; in Portland, Ore., at Portland Central; in Seattle at Blanchet, and in Rock Island, Ill., at Alleman. “I was a firm teacher in the classroom,” she commented, “but friendly with the students outside of the classroom. I loved them.” She was a successful teacher who was twice asked to present at BVM teacher workshops and once at a diocesan workshop.
Veronica’s most challenging mission was at Immaculate Conception ES/HS, an all-black school in Clarksdale, Miss., where she served as principal for six years. The sisters struggled financially and had to raise money creatively to help provide the children with a good education. But that was not the only obstacle. Veronica wrote, “This was the most difficult and shocking assignment not only from the standpoint of a different geographical area or a different race, but from the standpoint of a difficult pastor . . . [I] leaned heavily on prayer and trust in God to pull me through what seemed an impossible mission.” Her reliance, trust and gratitude is beautifully expressed in Psalm 138: “Lord, on the day that I cried out for help, you answered me.” Veronica refers to that mission as a turning point in her religious life. She wrote, “This ministry made me realize my success depended on God, not on me,” her words echoing the prophet Isaiah, “My strength and my courage is the Lord.”
After 10 years in the Northwest, Veronica returned to her home state and for eight years served as both teacher and counselor at Alleman HS in Rock Island. As her golden jubilee approached, another Alleman counselor said to her, “Sister, you are an excellent counselor, but don’t stay at it too long. Get out while you are on top. Find something that you would like to do and do it.”
Veronica took these words to heart. After praying to the Holy Spirit and spending two summers working at Marian Hall with “our beautiful, suffering BVMs,” she was led to a pastoral care ministry at Sacred Heart Parish in Rock Island where she served for 19 years. Reflecting upon this mission, she wrote, “Although I spent many happy years in the educational field, I feel especially blessed by the Lord who has given me the privilege to visit and pray with suffering people in hospitals, rest homes, and private homes, and who has given me the special privilege of carrying Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament to them.”
Veronica was kind, compassionate and a lifelong learner. She loved her large family just a wee bit more than she loved Notre Dame football! She remained engaged with people, events and issues of the time beyond her 100th birthday even though profound hearing loss made interactions challenging. During the Apostolic Visitation, she expressed her abundant happiness as a religious sister. She viewed the changes in religious life initiated by Vatican II as a significant improvement in lifestyle and greatly appreciated experiencing other forms of prayer, especially centering prayer which profoundly deepened her relationship with God.
Upon reviewing her autobiography, Veronica wrote, “I [have come] to the conclusion that my religious ministry has been challenging, stimulating, and rewarding . . . May Jesus continue to bless and love me until the day when He puts His loving arms around me and says, ‘Come home, Veronica, and receive the rewards I have prepared for you from all eternity.’” Veronica, Jesus has called. Enjoy your eternal rest in his loving arms.
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