The first six Carmelites who came to Oregon in 1957. Sister Mary Veronica was the last survivor of their number. (Catholic Sentinel archives)
The first six Carmelites who came to Oregon in 1957. Sister Mary Veronica was the last survivor of their number. (Catholic Sentinel archives)
EUGENE — Carmelite Sister Mary Veronica of the Holy Face, (Frances Anna Doerner) the last founding sister of the Carmel of Maria Regina, died April 4, 2022, at the age of 93 from heart failure. She died peacefully at the monastery with the sisters caring for her.

Sister Veronica was born October 23, 1928, in Los Angeles, California, the daughter of Leo Joseph Doerner and Ruth Gertrude Valentine Doerner. Her mother, Ruth, died of tuberculosis when she was eight years old, so her Aunt Anna helped to raise her.

She attended public schools in Los Angeles and Oxnard until senior year of high school, then transferred to Santa Clara High, Oxnard.

She and a friend one Easter got new dresses. To show themselves off, the teens showed up at the biggest church in town, which was Catholic.

The future nun was fascinated. She read St. Teresa of Avila and got hooked on the practical, prayerful, good-humored 16th-century

Carmelite reformer.

For two years, she attended classes at Mount St. Mary’s College for Women in Los Angeles. Then on May 24, 1949, she entered religious life

“I was having such a good time in college in Los Angeles,” she told the Sentinel of her entry into the California Carmelites in the 1950s. “When I felt the calling it was unbearable — a powerful pull.”

On Nov. 6, 1957, (four years after her final profession of vows in 1953) she and five other sisters founded the Carmel of Maria Regina in Eugene.

Sister Veronica served the Carmelite community in various capacities throughout the years. She served as superior for many terms, novice mistress, bookkeeper, and infirmarian, to name a few.

“You don’t just glide along on a rose petal,” she told the Catholic Sentinel in 2016. “The spiritual life is a trek. It’s a constant striving to be faithful.”

She loved reading, candle-making, writing (especially poetry and song lyrics), and animals, with a special love for cats and dogs.

She was preceded in death by her younger brother, Richard Doerner of Ojai, California, and is survived by her sister-in-law, Patricia Clark Doerner of Ventura, California. Her Carmelite community and the many friends she made over the years, miss her.

Sister Veronica’s Funeral Mass was held at the Carmel of Maria Regina on Green Hill Road. Burial followed immediately in the sisters’ cemetery.