By Andrew Ehrkamp
News Editor

Sister Ada Toner, beloved for her decades of ministry at Our Lady of the Angels Parish in Fort Saskatchewan and her boundless energy, has died. She was 99.

“She was high energy until the last five minutes of her life!” said Sister Anne Collins, who has known Sister Ada since they first taught school together in the 1960s.

Sister Ada, a member of the Sisters of Charity of the Immaculate Conception, died on July 30 at the Providence Renewal Centre in Edmonton where she was living.

“I wonder at the gift of life God has given her,” said Rev. Francis Mariappa, pastor at Our Lady of the Angels Parish, where Sister Ada was pastoral assistant for more than 20 years.

“The energy she had comes from her sacrifice and her connection to the parish and the people. She had so much energy. She never said ‘I’m tired.’ She loved Fort Saskatchewan, the parish and its people.”

Sister Ada was a pastoral assistant at Our Lady of the Angels from 1984 until 2016, visiting and bringing Communion to hospital patients and shut-ins, working as a receptionist, and maintaining the parish library which was named after her.

Mariappa recalls Sister Ada was also an exceptional baker.

“Sister Ada would make loaves of bread for charities or when there was a parish bake sale. She had an apartment and she would drive to the store and do her shopping even in her 80s,” he said.

“It was her simplicity of life, humility, acceptance, and openness. She journeyed with the people.”

Sister Ada had the ability to defuse a tough situation and make everyone “feel like a million dollars.”

“My memory of her is her deep faith, hard work and ability to remember dates, places and times. She knew what she was doing from June to July of any year.”

Sister Ada was recognized as great ambassador for both the Church and the community. In 2012 she was chosen as the honorary parade marshal in Fort Saskatchewan's Canada Day parade. In  2016, she received a Humanitarian Diamond Award from the Fort Saskatchewan International Women's Day Committee, "for helping to improve and shape the lives of other women through acts of kindness, charity and compassion."

Sister Ada was born on March 19, 1918, in Grand Falls, N.B. and she was only 14 months old when her mother died. She and her sister were raised by her great aunt and her two brothers.

On September 8, 1936, she joined the Sisters of Charity of the Immaculate Conception. Sister Ada then worked as a teacher in Vancouver, Saint John, Winnipeg and a principal in Edmonton at St. Gerard School until her retirement in 1978. She continued to serve in Alberta, B.C., and the Maritimes before joining Our Lady of the Angels Parish.

As she grew older, Sister Ada had trouble hearing, which made for some funny moments. Father Mariappa joked that each time a priest would visit Our Lady of Angels, “she would say ‘I can’t understand their accent!’”

In 2011, at age 93 – celebrating her 75th year in religious life, at Our Lady of the Angels parish – Sister Ada was asked by a reporter to reflect on her years of service.

"It's been a great life. I would not change anything," she said.

A prayer service for Sister Ada will be held at Our Lady of the Angels on Monday, August 7, at 7 p.m., followed by the funeral Mass on Tuesday, August 8, at 11 a.m. Interment will take place at Our Lady of Lourdes in Lamoureux.