The Reverend Verna Veritie

The Chaplain of the Anglican Church in Greater Athens, Canon Malcolm Bradshaw, has told members of the congregation more about the tragic death of Verna Veritie. He says: "Verna joined us in July as a full time member of staff  after she had been ordained Deacon in Lisbon, Portugal. She was found dead below her second story apartment in the early hours of Friday 31st August. After exhaustive investigation by the appropriate authorities, delayed because of the weekend, the cause of death appears to be a genuine accident.

Arrangements are being put in hand for Verna’s body to be flown out of Greece for cremation and for her ashes to be laid to rest in Portugal. She had lived in Portugal for many years. This coming Sunday, 9th September, there will be special prayers at the morning services in St Paul’s and St Peter’s.

Many emails of condolences are arriving from all parts of Europe revealing the esteem with which Verna was held.  Please hold Verna in your prayers, her relatives and friends and one another. ‘May she rest in peace, and rise in glory.’"

Verna had been ordained in June at her home church in Lisbon in Portugal where she has joined the Greater Lisbon congregation in 2000 and was licensed as a Reader in 2006. She served as Secretary to the Gibraltar Archdeaconry Synod before she was accepted for training at a Bishops Advisory Panel in February 2011.

Previously Verna had spent her professional life in Scotland as a Social Worker which gave her valuable insights into the pastoral work of the church.

Bishop Geoffrey said “As we commend Verna to God I ask your prayers for her many friends and relations and for the chaplaincies and congregations of Lisbon and Athens at this time of great tragedy.

“Verna Veritie was from Scotland and had given unstinted support to the Lisbon chaplaincy. She responded to God's call to the ministry of a distinctive deacon. Her willingness to move to serve in the Greater Athens Chaplaincy was typical of Verna's generosity. Her ordination was an occasion of great joy and that her ministry should have been cut short after only a few weeks is a matter of deep sorrow.”

"Out of the deep have I called to you, O Lord, Lord hear my voice"

In a letter to the congregations in Athens Bishop David writes "I want to assure the people of St Paul’s and St Peter’s that you are very much in my prayers. Verna’s ministry as a deacon among you was just beginning and held great promise. Already she had touched many with her warm pastoral approach. I know that Fr Malcolm felt that Verna was such a positive addition to the Greater Athens ministry team, and a real gift to the Anglican Church in Greece.

"The members of the Diocesan Ministry Team, Canon William Gulliford, Canon Ulla Monberg, Ms Margaret Jeffery and Deacon Frances Hiller, and of course Bishop Geoffrey who ordained Verna, are united in our sorrow, as is Canon Michael Bullock, Verna’s chaplain during her time in Lisbon. We became close to her as we accompanied her vocational journey and as she was selected and trained to be a deacon. We were moved at her calling to serve in Athens, following on a fruitful ministry as a Reader in Lisbon. There will be many more, in the UK, in Portugal, Greece, and across the diocese whose lives Verna touched, who will share our deep sense of loss.

"I am grateful to Reader Christine Saccali, to Fr Tony Lane and others who have shouldered some immediate responsibility for what must be attended to at a time like this. May God strengthen you all as you receive the news of Verna’s death, and mourn for her. We pray for Verna, deacon in God’s Church. We thank God for all that was good in her life. May she be welcomed into the arms of her Redeemer and be granted the peace and blessings of the life to come."