Mary Lilly Driciru, MSMMC
Sr. Veronica M. Landonio, CMS RIP, upon her departure unto eternal life leaves behind her a legacy of mission and ministry. From 1950 after her first profession, Sr. Veronica served mainly in South Sudan and in the Archdiocese of Gulu in Uganda. The concrete trails and footprints of her legacy are cited by witnesses and beneficiaries of her mission and ministry during and after her missionary service.
Sr. Veronica was born in Milan-Italy, and lived 98 years from May 20, 1923 to March 13, 2021. A week later, after hearing about her demise in Italy, Ugandans who knew her especially the Old Boys (OBs) of Bishop Negri Primary School, former inmates of Luzira Prisons whom she frequently visited, Comboni Missionary Sisters and friends got together for Holy Mass to celebrate her life at Namugongo Uganda Martyrs’ Minor Basilica.
According to Sr. Luigina Frison, CMS the Provincial Superior, “Sr. Veronica was a role model: as mathematics teacher, one of the young boys she taught became a banker! She was a musician and music teacher, peace maker and a prophet. She imparted knowledge and promoted Christian values of friendship, gratitude, love and solidarity. She loved her consecrated life as well as the people she served. One time she told us, “I have only one life, if I had 100 of them I would spend all of them for Africa!”
Another witness recounted that Sr. Veronica had a great memory and taught mathematics and music up to 80 years of age. Mathematics was always the best subject passed in the schools where she taught. She left Uganda in April 2017 for the home of the elderly in Italy where she always remembered and referred to Africa as her “home”. She could still remember to play music to entertain the elderly sisters in her community and always giving them joy.
Mr. Ssemakula Lawrence, OBs Team Leader recalled; “Sr. Veronica was a mother and a father to me since my parents were far away in Kampala; she perfectly filled the gap. As pioneers of Bishop Negri School, she taught us community life, mentored us and guided us very well. During 1979 war when all our properties were looted, she personally got materials and made clothes, shirts for us! When a bomb (Sabasaba )landed on our roof she was the first to check on us and ensured we were safe. I was more than ready to take care of Sr. Veronica in her old age as my mother. I visited her in Italy and she was able to recognize me despite suffering from dementia! “Africa is my home, the people I know, love and die for are Africans,” she said. We shall do something in Negri School in honor of Sr. Veronica.” He concluded.
As a nun, Sr. Veronica also touched the lives of inmates in Luzira Prisons and Hon. Chris Rwakasiisi who represented them at Namugongo requiem prayer had this to say, “I was in the condemned section of the prisons and Sr. Veronica could come and pray with me and she started visiting me at least twice in a month and so stirred up my hopes… she would bring me food and drinks. She would carry these on her head, mounting the hills of Luzira! One day someone told her, ‘How can you visit a murderer?’ and she simply replied, ‘I don’t know the crime you committed…” Sister Veronica had a heart of wisdom, she served a God who is LOVE and not racist!”
The story about the late Sr. Veronica’s successful mission and ministry came up recently when the Centre for Applied Research in the Apostolate and African Sisters Education Collaborative (CARA-ASEC) was hosting a Webinar to discuss Charism, Spirituality, Mission & Ministry.