In 1996, Veronica Guerin was an Irish mother who deeply loved her family and loved goodness. She was not a church goer, in fact she had good reasons for being disgusted with the world of religion: one of her investigations involved exposing pedophilia in the church. Her journey shows the truth of John 3:19, which says, ‘This is the judgement, that the light has come into the world but men loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil.’ Veronica was no saint, but as time went by, her love for the light filled her soul with a love for the hurting and drew her into the darkest of places where she then became a light to others—and still is.
She had qualifications in accountancy, business and journalism. Her training fitted with her passion for following the facts all the way to their source, even if it meant putting herself in serious danger. It came to her attention that the drug lords of Ireland were brazenly dominating and destroying Irish society, to the extent that outraged families were marching in the street trying to get intimidated government ministers to do something about it.
By the June of that year, Guerin had gathered a lot of damning information and was putting pressure on those responsible. People were listening and she was booked to speak at a ‘Freedom Forum’ conference in London on the topic “Dying to Tell the Story: Journalists at Risk.” But two days before the forum—on 26 June 1996—Veronica was driving in traffic, she stopped at a red light and was shot six times by a motorcyclist. The shooting was fatal.
Her murder sparked anger all over Ireland. Numbers of crime bosses were arrested and imprisoned and it is claimed that drug crime in Ireland dropped by 15% in the following twelve months. For the first time in Irish history, a criminal turned ‘state witness’.
The movie Veronica Guerin has been made of her story. If you want a good spiritual exercise to prepare you for the new year I recommend watching it and then praying a prayer like the following one …
“ Dear God of self-forgetful love, there’s a paralysing and unspoken fear threatening our society. I need your grace to stand up to it. I want to be more like Veronica. I’m volunteering to be one of yours. To be the one who grasps the nettle that everyone sees but does nothing about. If this means that I’ll be regarded as naïve, arrogant, or even reckless, then so be it. For this life is short and I would hate to reach the end of it and realise that I had made a habit of trading the chance to love and serve you and my neighbours for the sake of a little (temporary) social approval. As Pink Floyd sang, “Did you exchange a walk on part in a war for a lead role in a cage?” Such a pretty cage too: hours and hours of fun. As for me, I hope that—like Veronica—whenever I’m faced with the smell of brazen, socially entrenched evil, I will be one in whom curiosity, indignation and love are aroused, and who will be prepared to place all my gifts, training and skills at your disposal and walk patiently and courageously into the fight, where I will burn like a wick in the candle of your grace. Amen’