WCR PHOTO | CHRIS MILLER
Sr. Annata Brockman visits the school named after her every week.
EDMONTON – Sister Annata Brockman, while on a retreat many years ago with other sisters, was asked to explain her motivating force in daily living.
Brockman responded with a statement by which she has lived her whole life. She even keeps that response typed on a slip of paper.
"The entire universe is God's family and I am part of that family," she said. "My parents emphasized the fact that every man, woman and child is my brother and sister, and I should treat them as I would the Lord."
This way of life has served her so well that she has been named Global TV's Woman of Vision for November.
The honour has been bestowed monthly for the past 16 years to Edmonton-area women from all walks of life. The common thread is that they use their talents to improve the community or create a successful venture.
The popular feature is written and produced by Lesley MacDonald. The stories, broadcast on the first Monday of every month, are meant to inspire other women to make wise career choices and achieve their ambitions.
The three-minute feature on Brockman aired during the evening news Nov. 7 and on the morning news the next day.
MacDonald told the WCR that Brockman is a remarkable woman who shows a side of nuns that most people today don't know about.
"We tend to think of them praying in church, but she was a pioneer in education," said MacDonald. "She pushed for equality before people were even thinking that way. She had an education that most women of her generation wouldn't even dream of having."
Brockman was a teacher and administrator in Edmonton Catholic Schools for 21 years. She then served as a pastoral associate at St. Joseph's Basilica for 23 years, leading hundreds of people into the Catholic Church through the RCIA. She continues to work with the sick and terminally ill.
Global TV conducted a comprehensive interview with Brockman lasting more than four hours, and also accompanied her to a hospital where she visited patients and to Sister Annata Brockman Elementary/Junior High School. The school opened in September 2010 and serves kindergarten to Grade 8.
As a champion of Catholic education, Brockman visits the school weekly, teaching students important lessons of life and faith. By early December, she will have taught all 25 classes for half an hour each.
Brockman did not always want to be a sister. She envisioned herself getting married and having kids.
As a teenager, riding her bike to and from school, she always talked to God, and asked him what she ought to do with her life. Becoming a sister was always the answer – but one that she resisted tenaciously. Whenever she asked for a sign from God, the answer never changed.
So she eventually joined the Sisters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul.
"I did not choose to follow the Lord as a religious. He chose me."
Brockman remains active in schools and hospital ministry. Yet she emphasized she does not need to prove herself to anyone, only to be her best self to God.
"It's not what I do that is important at all. What's really important is what God does through me, what God accomplishes through me, that is of infinite value," she said.
"This truth makes each day so special as I don't know whose life the Lord will touch, challenge, strengthen, affirm, forgive or love through me."
At another retreat, a priest asked the sisters to write down their personal mission statements. Again, her statement focused on Christ touching and understanding people through her.
"I see a world on a journey from this earth to life in its fullness. On that journey I see happy, faith-filled and dedicated people," said Brockman.
However, she also walks side by side with people who are hurting, lonely, rejected and searching for meaning in their lives. She enables Christ to be present to them by listening to their stories, and by trying to give them hope, new life and strength.