Sister Veronice saw ‘with the eyes of Faith and Light’

By Dave Myers

Southwest Kansas Catholic

On Nov. 30, Frank Sumaya’s heart stopped four times.

The Cathedral Our Lady of Guadalupe parishioner had received a heart catheterization and was in recovery. His wife Virginia sat nearby, praying as the medical staff rushed into the room.  

“The staff came to my aid yelling at me to wake up,” Frank said. “As far as I knew, I had just been napping, because I was so tired from being there since 6:30 a.m. But apparently the EKG monitor said otherwise. I felt nothing, saw nothing, nor heard nothing. It was just a peaceful sleep.” 

“We had just lost Randy [Zerr] three weeks before due to heart problems,” Virginia said. “I prayed for Randy’s intercession.”

Four different times her husband’s heart stopped—once for 30 seconds—and four different times it started back up again, something Virginia attributes, in part, to a beloved Sister whose life on earth was ending at nearly the same moment.

Virginia, with the assistance of Frank, have been the hosts of the Cathedral Our Lady of Guadalupe Faith and Light community, of which Randy Zerr had long been a part, for more than a decade. The monthly gatherings offer developmentally and intellectually disabled individuals, their family and friends, a few hours of faith, fun and friendship in a non-threatening atmosphere.

The communities in Wichita and Dodge City [there are Faith and Light communities across the world] were started by Sister Veronice Born, a forever smiling, soul-uplifting Most Precious Blood Sister who delighted in the happiness of others.

At the precise moment that Frank Sumaya was struggling for life, Sister Veronice’s life on earth was ending, giving way to her rebirth into heaven.

“I wonder if in those moments, Sister Veronice wasn’t praying for Frank as well,” Virginia said.

At a recent gathering of the Faith and Light community, members shared some memories of Sister Veronice. 

“People talked about how nice she was,” Virginia told the SKC. “They were really happy that she started Faith and Light. If not for her, they wouldn’t be there, enjoying each other.

“Frank, do you have memories of Sister Veronice?” Virginia asked her husband.

In the typical dry wit for which he is known, Frank answered without pause, “She always liked you best.”

Life after near-death, his humor is solidly intact.

“Not long before she died, she told me, ‘Don’t ever give up Faith and Light,’” Virginia said of Sister Veronice. For some time now, Virginia has been trying to find another person ready to give their all to this special community—just one day a month, eight months out of the year.

Sister Veronice’s plea to Virginia came in the knowledge that a good host is difficult to find.

Just as happened all those years ago when Sister Veronice attended the meetings (she had long since been residing at the motherhouse in Wichita), smiles, laughter, songs and praise filled the Holy Family Social Hall at the cathedral Dec. 15. After sharing their memories, Virginia had a reenactment of the Nativity using a small creche.

“And suddenly there was with the Angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying, Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors!” Virginia read from the Book of Luke.

Concluding the gathering was a pot-luck with homemade Mexican food and many desserts, celebrated with smiles and delight thanks in large part to a beloved Sister who saw fit to serve God’s special people.