Telling her story: Sister Veronica Higgins
I knew Sister Veronica Higgins had a story to tell from the moment I first met her years ago.
As an Oklahoma City native, I grew up being a little jealous of one of my cousins who got to go to Villa Teresa, the beloved parochial school that was located in what is now called Midtown. I didn't actually get inside the school myself until I was an adult visiting as religion editor to cover stories.
I was very interested in meeting the nuns who ran Villa Teresa, all of them. As a black woman, I was particularly curious about Sister Veronica Higgins, who was a teacher and principal there, because I had never met a black nun before.
Of course, I knew each sister in the Carmelite Sisters of St. Therese religious order each had their own faith testimonies to share, just as the sisters of the other religious orders had theirs.
Over the years, I've helped tell some of the stories of these women, most notably the Sisters of Mercy on the occasion of one of their milestone anniversaries.
And I always thought it would be interesting to hear Sister Veronica's but it just never happened.
Well, she recently shared some details of her life and faith journey with me for a story that will be in the Saturday, July 16, edition of The Oklahoman. Sister Veronica is celebrating her 40th anniversary of vows at 10 a.m. Sunday, July 17, at Our Lady's Cathedral, 3214 N. Lake Ave., and she's hoping her friends in the community will come share in this happy occasion with her.
I could have written a lot more about her, but I tried to touch on some of the highlights, such
-- She converted to Catholicism from another faith tradition.
-- She grew up feeling the brunt of discrimination against blacks and participated in some of the peaceful demonstrations that were a hallmark of the Civil Rights Movement. (Her mom, who thought the demonstrations were unsafe, once remarked that the local newspaper featured a picture of a young lady participating in a demonstration who looked just like her daughter. Sister Veronica said she walked away from her mother because of course it was her. She joked that her mother didn't bring the subject back up for some reason.)
-- She found her way to Oklahoma City, her beloved Carmelite Sisters of St. Therese and Villa Teresa after finding the religious order listed in a book.
-- She was the only black nun in the Carmelite Sisters order in Oklahoma City. Another black woman was there when she arrived in the mid-1970s but this particularly person did not end up taking her final vows.
-- Villa Teresa, which closed in 2012, will always hold a special place in her heart.
What's Sister Veronica doing now?
Read all about it in The Oklahoman.
P.S. As a child, I attended a day care-preschool called Capitol Day School in Oklahoma City. It was off Kelley Avenue, not too far from NE 23 in a cream-colored brick building. The school was run by nuns. I'm looking to connect with anyone who might remember it or who actually attended Capitol Day School. Looking back, I'm thinking it may have been one of the first integrated child care/preschools in the city because there was a mix of black and white children there. Don't know how long that lasted and I'm not sure what happened to the school since I was only there for a year or two. I'd love to hear from any readers who remember the place. I know I have a lot of fond memories of it.