Trent University is deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Trent alumna Sister Veronica O’Reilly ‘65, past member of the Trent Board of Governors and former general superior of the Peterborough congregation of Sisters of St. Joseph, who frequently shared with the public her passion for education, health care and religious life.
After graduating from Trent with a Bachelor of Arts, Sister Veronica maintained a lifelong love for her alma mater, which bestowed on her an Honorary Doctor of Laws Degree – the University’s highest honour – in 1987.
“I have heard of Sister Veronica’s intelligence, compassion and major contributions to the University and know that this loss is a loss for the entire Trent community and beyond,” said Dr. Leo Groarke, president and vice-chancellor of Trent.
Past Trent president John Stubbs recalled the privilege of working with Sister Veronica: “During the years that I was president of Trent University, it was my privilege and delight to come to know and work with Sister Veronica on a range of educational and other issues that we shared in common,” he said. “She was a person of great wisdom and profound common sense and I always came away from our encounters in a positive and supportive frame of mind. Her commitment to Trent was deeply appreciated and I also admired her commitment to the many communities that she served.”
Incoming chair of Trent’s Board of Governors, Armand La Barge, echoed these sentiments, adding: “I had the privilege of meeting and chatting with Sister Veronica several times and I am going to miss her wit and wisdom. I know our faith and educational community are going to miss her as well. It is amazing how much of an impact this woman from humble roots in Ops Township had on religious, academic and social issues locally, nationally and internationally.”
Sister Veronica was born in Lindsay in 1937 and entered the Sisters of St. Joseph of Peterborough in 1956. She ministered in the field of education as a teacher at Trent University, St. Peter’s Secondary School in Peterborough, Victoria College in Toronto and the University of Dublin in Ireland. She earned a Ph.D. in English and Irish literature from the University of Toronto and later was awarded an honorary fellowship from St. Michael's College of the University of Toronto.
She received the Order of Ontario in 1991 as well as the Queen's Golden and Diamond Jubilee medals.
Sister Veronica was also assistant director of the Ecumenical Forum, director of Ecumenism and a member of the Secretariat of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops.
Sister Veronica served for many years in leadership of the Sisters of St. Joseph, which has been supportive of Trent for decades, most recently assisting our Indigenous students and programs. As well as serving on the Trent University board, Sister Veronica also served on the board of directors for the Toronto School of Theology; the National Catholic Broadcasting Council; St. Joseph's Hospital, Peterborough; St. Joseph's Hospital, Parry Sound and the Southdown Institute.
Throughout her career she gave numerous keynote addresses on education, health care and religious life and she facilitated Chapters and retreats for religious congregations.
In recognition of her exceptional contributions to Trent University and as an expression of deep sympathies to family, friends and colleagues, the flag atop Bata Library will be lowered Monday, April 8.