Sister Annata Brockman, beloved Edmonton nun, dies at age 89
'She was a phenomenal person, and she certainly guided us through her love, and her wisdom and her mercy'
Students at Sister Annata Brockman Catholic school spent much of Tuesday morning making cards in memory of the beloved Edmonton nun their school was named for.
Principal Denis Gauthier, new to the school this year, said he heard the news about Sister Annata's death at 5:20 a.m. Students were told by their teachers before classes started.
"I spoke to her on Sunday," Gauthier said. "I had a very nice talk with her and she told me she was very proud of the work that we were doing here, very proud of the children and she had a lot of faith in us."
At the elementary and junior high school, built in 2010, Sister Annata often met with staff, parents and students.
A large framed picture of her hangs on the lobby wall just inside the school's front doors.
'She was a humble person'
Many students who had grown to admire and look up their school's namesake were shocked by the news.
"We tried to keep ourselves together throughout our classes this morning, but it's a little difficult today," said Grade 9 student Amanda Dang. "She was a humble person. Every time we hear her name, or see her face, or even just look at her, you feel at ease with her."
Grade 9 student Michael Ippolito said he had known Sister Annata since he was seven years old.
"When I walked into the class, I saw the teachers just huddling around," he said. "I knew something had happened, I just didn't know what.
"She was really happy, and then to just hear this, it's sad."
Despite failing health, Sister Annata stood in the lobby on the first day of classes this school year to greet students as they walked in.
Not long afterward, on Sept. 13, she moved to Halifax where she was cared for by her order.
"It was bittersweet for her, " said Gauthier.
"But she got the support that she needed there, and she knew that the end was near and she prepared, and she helped to prepare all of us."
Sister Annata was born in Middle Lake, Sask., in 1927, the eighth in a family of 12 children.
Throughout her life, she placed a high value on education. She earned masters degrees in educational administration and theology.
In 1960, she came to Edmonton, where she worked as a teacher and administrator for 21 years, and served at various times as principal at St. Mark, St. Dominic and St. Andrew schools.
Staff and students at the school plan to hold a formal ceremony to recognize Sister Annata. A prayer table with pictures and a candle has been set up in the school lobby.