Veronica was the daughter of Adelaide and Gerald Shinnick and sister to David, Frank, Brian, Maurice and Mary.
She left school in 1955 and worked in a solicitor’s office before entering nursing school specialising in paediatrics and midwifery.
Veronica’s Catholic upbringing gave her a deep spiritual connection with God, and this gave Veronica a desire to help others in a higher calling.
She entered the Daughters of Charity in 1961 and served in a number of locations including St Joseph’s Aged Care, Sandgate (NSW); St Catherine’s at Berri; the Aboriginal Mission at Moree (three times); Marillac House, East Brighton (Vic); St Vincent’s Nursing Home in Guilford (WA); Hutt St Centre, Adelaide; and St Mary’s House of Welcome, Fitzroy (Vic).
As the director of Hutt St Centre from 1989 to 1996 she was responsible for bringing a change in focus, opening the services to women and their children and creating a safe place for them in upgraded facilities. She also expanded external health services for clients.
Her previous work in aged care gave her a valuable understanding of the needs of the vulnerable aged who came to the centre.
Her work in Moree included the handover of the mission to Aboriginal leadership during her final stint there, an achievement that demonstrated her skills and sensitivity.
When the mission celebrated its 50 years, the community of Moree invited her to return as their guest and main speaker at the jubilee dinner.
From 1970 to 1978 she was based at Marillac House, a residential school for about 80 girls with learning and social difficulties. Veronica was in charge for the last six years and formed lasting friendships with many of the girls, several of whom continued to contact her regularly. ‘She was like a mother to us,’ they once said.
In Veronica’s final days on earth, three of the girls rang through to her room to ask after her and express their love and gratitude.
A prolific and talented letter writer, Veronica was always keeping in touch with people by sending cards, especially to the girls of Marillac and the women at Moree.
In 1989 she travelled to the USA and Great Britain looking at services for the homeless, followed by a pilgrimage to the Holy Land.
Her presence, leadership and deep commitment to caring for others made a profound and lasting impact on each of the locations where she was placed and most importantly on the people who she was charged to care for as well as her work colleagues.
Veronica left the Daughters in 1998, returning to Adelaide where she maintained the Vincentian spirit in her voluntary works and with neighbours. She never lost her connection with God, maintaining a strong spiritual outlook on life and continuing to care for family and friends.
As Veronica’s health declined, it never changed her or the way she interacted with God and others.
She continued to look out for those she thought might be isolated or alone, even at the Pines Aged Care Home, where she would ask people who were sitting alone in the dining room if they would like some company.
Mary Shinnick was only five when Veronica left home at the age of 18 to live in the nurses’ home at the children’s hospital. However, the two sisters had a special relationship. Both had a strong spiritual belief in God and shared a desire to care for others, along with a rebel streak.
As they worked through their mutual illness of cancer, they grew even closer and were always there for each other. Even though the pandemic made it difficult to meet in person they were in constant contact by phone.
When Mary died in Brisbane on August 5 it had a profound impact on Veronica who died 16 days later. Their brother, Fr Maurice, celebrated a memorial Mass for his sisters at Holy Cross Church, Goodwood, on September 4.
In his homily, he said: “Throughout their lives, in the difficult and burdensome times, and in the joyful and satisfying times, both Mary and Veronica knew that the Lord’s goodness and kindness was with them, and now may it be, as the Lord promised, In the Lord’s own house shall we dwell for ever and ever.”Jump to next article