Mother Mary Veronica Steffens was born Anne Rosa Steffens in Boston, Massachusetts, on April 11, 1890, and was one of Casper and Marie Steffens’ seven children. At five, Rosa contracted poliomyelitis. According to Sister Adele Francis Gorman, it was Rosa’s devotion to Our Lady of Perpetual Help that led to her becoming able at 14 to walk without the brace that had been with her since her illness. Gorman writes that Rosa studied at Burdette College in Boston and became skilled in typing and stenography. She was working as a clerk-typist when she “became interested in the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia through her aunt, Sister Albertina Dorsch” (Gorman 248). At 21, Rosa was invested as a Sister of St. Francis of Philadelphia and became Sister Mary Veronica. As Sister M. Jeanette Clare McDonnell shares, Rosa had written in her application to the community that she wished “to serve God in a more perfect manner and to save souls” (62).
From September 1913 until 1931, Sister Veronica taught at John W. Hallahan Catholic Girls’ High School, where she served as head of the commercial department. McDonnell notes that Sister Veronica showed her optimism and faith in her students through such statements as, “I don’t see why, if a person is 95 percent good, why one should dwell on the other 5 percent” (63). During a year away from teaching, Sister Veronica studied at the Catholic University of America, in Washington, D.C., completing her degree in 1921.
In June 1931, Sister Veronica was elected as the fourth secretary general of her congregation. In that role, she rearranged and catalogued the archives in the Aston motherhouse (McDonnell 63). Following a fall in 1935, Sister Veronica again found it necessary to wear a leg brace. But after a pilgrimage to St. Anne de Beaupre, Quebec, where she had also visited as a child, “she was able to remove the brace and never wear it again” (Gorman 249).
In her ministry, Sister Veronica felt particularly called to serve the poor and suffering. McDonnell speaks of her visiting the sick or bereaved all across Philadelphia. This calling continued, and “as Secretary General or Superior General, she would—those who worked with her relate—lie awake of a night worrying about the poor family ‘down the road.’ Early in the morning, Sister Veronica would call at the home, arms filled with necessities that she grieved they had not” (McDonnell 62).
In 1937, Sister Veronica Steffens was chosen as her congregation’s seventh superior general, a responsibility she retained until her death, in 1945. Under Mother Veronica’s leadership during World War II, “The Sisters were encouraged to give to the blood banks and assist the Government in rationing, bond and clothing drives, etc. Underlying [these] activities . . . was a program of penance and prayer which daily sought God’s mercy for the suffering world” (McDonnell 63). Gorman adds, “She also requested that the sisters be more concerned with saving water. . . . More serious, however, was her warning against using national and racial slurs, ‘Remember, we are all Americans’” (250).
Mother Veronica’s years as superior general included numerous new missions. A sampling of these includes the opening of Our Lady of Guadalupe School in San Diego, California; St. James School in McMinnville, Oregon; Our Lady of Lourdes School in Bethesda, Maryland; and The Catholic High School of Baltimore. Her administration also included, for example, the opening of a hospital in La Grande, Oregon, and a home for infants and toddlers in Spokane, Washington.
On November 29, 1945, while Mother Veronica was in a taxi heading for the Oklahoma City airport to fly home for the funeral of Monsignor John J. Bonner, she was killed in a collision with a truck. Mother Mary Veronica Steffens is buried in Our Lady of Angels Cemetery.
 Sr. Adele Francis Gorman, OSF, Celebrating the Journey . . . (Vol. II) History of the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia 1855-1970, ed. Sr. Emily Ann Herbes, OSF (Aston: Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia, 2005). On pages 247-84, this work provides an extensive history of Mother Veronica Steffens’ leadership years.
 Sr. M. Jeanette Clare McDonnell, OSF, The Sisters of the Third Order of St. Francis, Glen Riddle, Pennsylvania 1855-1955 (Philadelphia: William T. Cooke, 1955).
 Sr. Adele Francis Gorman, OSF, Celebrating the Journey . . . , History of the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia 1855-1970, Vol. II, ed. Sr. Emily Ann Herbes, OSF (Aston: Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia, 2005). On pages 227-46, this work provides an extensive history of Mother Immaculate Tremmel’s leadership years.
 Sr. M. Jeanette Clare, OSF, The Sisters of the Third Order of St. Francis, Glen Riddle, Pennsylvania 1855-1955 (Philadelphia: William T. Cooke, 1955).