Sister Veronica Skillin, 1928 – 2015

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Sr. Veronica Skillin

Sister Veronica Skillin, a Sister of Notre Dame for 68 years, died peacefully at Sequoia Hospital on April 9, 2015.  Sr. Veronica served as the 15th President of College of Notre Dame, now Notre Dame de Namur University, from 1980 to 1994.

NDNU President Judith Maxwell Greig, Ph.D. described Sr. Veronica’s tenure as one that “was marked by a significant expansion in university programs, which helped set the stage for the elevation of NDNU from a college to a university. She had great love for the university and its students, faculty and staff, and remained involved in university life right up until her passing.”

Janifer Stackhouse, a former member of Sr. Veronica’s Cabinet, said “Of all the people I have known Sr. Veronica was most able to reach through with love to people of every background and station in life. Personally, I will be forever grateful to her and ever cherish the memories of how she cared for each of us, knowing each of us in special ways, and always trusting us. How blessed we are to have shared our lives with her as our friend, as our leader, and as an everlasting inspiration to guide how we move forward into the future.”

Speaking at Founders Day in 2012, Sr. Veronica acknowledged the Sisters whose courage and vision led them to establish College of Notre Dame and the dedicated faculty and board members who became partners in that educational mission. . . . Today’s students, faculty, board members, benefactors, friends are all present-day founders of the University, for this is a living entity which goes on being re-founded every day.”

Her accomplishments as President of the college were many: increased enrollment; college-wide participatory governance; renovation of Ralston Hall, all Science labs, the ND Theater, Taube Hall, the Madison Art Center; she created the Wiegand Gallery and upgraded the athletic field. She oversaw the building of the Walter Gleason Center on campus, and delighted in being able to support basketball players and other student athletes on campus.

Sr. Veronica with members of the basketball team (l-r, Adili Skillin, Eric Williams, Mitch Belasco, Mark Tyson, Steve Day) in 1993. Adili is her nephew.

Sr. Veronica (Dorothy) Skillin was born in San Francisco and graduated from Notre Dame High School, San Francisco, and College of Notre Dame. She received her teaching credential at CND, and a Master’s degree in English from Stanford University. An educator to the core, and a recognized leader, she taught and served as principal in Notre Dame schools in Santa Clara, Redwood City, Santa Barbara, Salinas, San Jose, Marysville, and Alameda before becoming the Assistant Dean at CND, Dean of Students and, in 1980, President of the College. She also served as Coordinator of Ministries on the Provincial Council for the Sisters.

Intellectually curious, Sr. Veronica read the New York Times online every day, and the New York Review of Books. She was passionately interested in music, literature and the arts, and was a devoted 49er fan with strong opinions about past and current quarterbacks.

Predeceased by her parents, Harmon D. and Dorothea Skillin, and her sisters, Theresa and Veronica, she is survived by her brothers, Monsignor Harmon Skillin of the Diocese of Stockton, CA, Joseph and Penny Skillin of Georgia, and her beloved nephew, Adili Skillin.

Sr. Veronica will be greatly missed and lovingly remembered by her community of Sisters of Notre Dame, by the CND and NDNU communities, by her family, co-workers, former students and many good friends. She will also be fondly remembered by the young women who entered religious life in the 1960s when she served as Director of Postulants at the Novitiate in Saratoga.

The funeral Mass will be Monday, April 20th at 10:30 a.m. at the Cunningham Chapel at Notre Dame de Namur University.

Memorial contributions may be made to Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, 1520 Ralston Avenue, Belmont, CA 94002 or online or to Notre Dame de Namur University, 1500 Ralston Avenue, or online at ndnu.edu.

14 thoughts on “Sister Veronica Skillin, 1928 – 2015

  1. Something I find more than curious about Sister Veronica’s life and death is that she shared St. Julie Billiart’s birth date, July 12, and missed dying on the anniversary of Julie’s death, April 8, by only a few hours (and who’s counting?!) What a fitting frame for Veronica’s life! As my “postulant mistress” in the 60’s, Veronica’s love for our SND heritage was always there. At the same time Veronica had kind of a “mission”, i.e., to impart to us, the young ones, the renewal of our lives which was coming with Vatican II. Veronica gave me that beginning to a life as an SND: a sense of fearlessness for change; a fearlessness and love for the transformative process which would bring us and our heritage into who and what the world would need us to be. What a gift you were to me, Veronica, and to us all.

  2. My family has known the Skillin family since Fr. Harmon was sent to our parish in Fremont when I was a pre-teen. Sr. Veronica also was Mistress of Postulants when I entered the Novitiate in Saratoga in 1964. I still hold on to some of the good counsel she offered to a head-strong 17-year-old during that year of transition . I am saddened to read of her loss and send love from the Hallers (my Dad, sister and me) to Fr. Harmon, Joe and all in the community who will miss her.

  3. Hopefully this is not a duplicate message! Thank you so much for the lovely tribute to Sister Veronica. I was saddened to hear of her death. She was very good to me during those Saratoga years and I always considered her a friend through the years. May she rest in peace.

  4. One of my strongest memories of Veronica when I was a postulant in Saratoga in 1963 was her genuine full, radiant smile. She seemed to totally enjoy us young women with all our idealism, fervor, AND our innocent humor and sometimes silliness; she never suppressed her delight in us but rather let herself laugh fully and joyfully. She was so human and seemed to glide around the postulate with feminine dignity. She was a beauty, and I am grateful to her.

  5. Saddened by the news of Sr. Veronica’s passing but comforted by the memories and knowledge that she served as an inspiration to many. I was a student at Notre Dame between 1969 and 1974 and remember her well. She greatly influenced my life, along with the unforgettable Sr. Anthony Marie S.N.D. Dorothy Herzo. May they rest in peace.

  6. I first met Sr. Veronica in1966 when I entered the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur. Her honorable and courageous servant leadership in so many ministries over the years is best defined by the Prophet Micah: “And what does the Lord require of you but to act justly, love tenderly, and walk humbly with your God.” As our newest Saint, her handprint and legacy of servant leadership will be lovingly honored and sustained in the hearts and lives of all of us.

  7. It was Veronica who prepared the way for the defining of “The Hallmarks of a Notre Dame de Namur Learning Community”. When she was Sponsorship Director, she brought together the heads of NDNU, the two high schools and two elementary schools in conversation about the key values of a Notre Dame education. “The Hallmarks” were built on the foundation she laid and the collaboration she initiated.

  8. Sr. Veronica was so much fun. I remember her showing me her collection of books in the Director of Postulants office in Saratoga. We were sitting on the floor at the time. How she loved discussing books! Later, after she’d given us an instruction on silence, we brought her to the recreation room and gave her the Simon and Garfunkle album “The Sound of Silence.” She loved it and shared it with the professed sisters.
    One of a great kind….

  9. SISTER VERONICA

    Have you seen the GUCCI PRESIDENT lately? Sister Veronica had style and class — the students dubbed her the GUCCI PRESIDENT. She’s here somewhere or at least her influence is! She prepared us for our transition from CND to NDNU. She became a trusted advisor to me during my seven plus years at CND/NDNU.

    I knew Sister Veronica in a way that few others did. I knew her as a person who had the courage to lead and advance an institution like CND/NDNU. I wasn’t there, but have been told about her early years of leadership and about the resistance she faced. She shared some of that history with me. She shared it not as a complainer but to encourage me to move foreword, to not get discouraged. She understood that the institution could not remain stagnant, that it must change with the times. She understood that the institution could change and still continue the mission of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur.

    Sr. Veronica accepted the presidency of CND knowing that there were numerous local candidates. Once selected, she held her head high and moved foreword, as evidenced by the development of the institution under her leadership.

    Veronica was not my spiritual advisor, or maybe she was, but I know that she was my advisor about the spiritual side of NDNU. I can’t count the number of times I picked up the phone and said “am I off base here” or is this what we should be doing with regard to mission, religious tradition, or for the good of the institution? I tried to include her because she was an important resource, a keen mind, and a significant part of the institution’s history. She cared deeply about the institution’s success. She committed the last part of her professional life to CND/NDNU, presenting herself with dignity and style. Sister Veronica is at peace overlooking the garden that was named for her, right beside Ralston Hall.

    May God bless and receive into Heaven the GUCCI PRESIDENT of CND/NDNU.

    John B. Oblak, Ph.D
    17th President of CND/NDNU

  10. I was saddened to hear of Veronica’s death. I began to know Veronica when I joined the Belmont ‘Circle’ in the early 2000s. When there was a discussion nominees for Province Leadership, my name came up. I was wanting to back out when she said to me ” your community is calling you … the community call” What could I do and allowed my name to be placed on the list.
    I miss Veronica. There was a deep wholeness about her that embraced me in many ways.
    Thank you, Veronica, for your rich life and great love of Notre Dame!

  11. I will miss Sr. Veronica very much. She was a gentle rock who you could always rely on for a direct answer. She was so very mindful of the consideration of others, and the angels must be joyful to have her. Hugs to all the Sisters.

    Becca
    Past respite cook

  12. I have been in spirit with you and the many sisters, colleagues and students celebrating Veronica’s life among us and her new life with our good God. I am sure it was a joyful affair tinged with sadness at our loss of her presence among us. You are all in my prayers. I wish I could have been among the celebrants. I have many memories from times we shared when we were both presidents of SND institutions as well as more recent remembrance when I have been at the province center. Blessings and much love.

  13. I am wondering if you are the Maureen I was in the novitiate with in 1964. If so I would love to hear from you and catch up.
    So sorry to hear about sister Veronica. She was a great lady
    love Vicki

  14. I’m assuming you are the Sister Veronica who was principal and my eighth grade teacher at St Joseph Alameda. Since you were simultaneously teacher and principal, I remember you were often called out of the classroom for your principal duties. On one of those occasions Bob Youngman put a thumbtack on my seat and we were fighting when you returned to the classroom. You called my mom and said, “John and another boy were fighting in the classroom,” to which Mom replied, “I’m glad to hear he is finally sticking up for himself.”
    All my sister’s sisters are my sisters too; rest in peace my sister.

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