Valerie Bannert

 

Viola (Valerie) Marguerite Bannert passed at Providence Villa Nursing Home, in Toronto, Ontario on February 17, 2018 after a short respiratory illness.  She was 89 years old.


Valerie was born on August 28, 1928 in Grand Forks, British Columbia.  She was the sixth and last surviving child of Frank and Sylvia Bannert, and the sister of Eldon, Ray, Wilbur, Opal and Dallas.


Val is survived by her daughter Martha and son-in-law François Ferron, her many nieces and nephews, their children and grandchildren, her Religious Sisters of Our Lady’s Missionaries, members of Eramosa Eden Retreat Centre, and her beloved cats, Bonus, Norah and Valentine.


Valerie devoted her life to God and service to humanity and Mother Earth.  She was a devout Roman Catholic, a bold visionary, a compassionate leader, a loving mother, and a caring and generous friend.

    In 1950, Valerie joined the Congregation of Our Lady’s Missionaries and began her work as a Roman Catholic nun.  Over the next 25 years, she prepared herself for service  - Elementary Teacher’s Certificate, Bachelor of Arts/English, Bachelor of Education, Master of Arts in Religious Education - and served as a teacher and principal in Ontario, and as an ESL teacher and translator at Osaka University of Education in Japan.


    In 1975, with the blessing of her Religious Sisters, Valerie left the Congregation of Our Lady’s Missionaries to begin a new life of ministry in the broader community. She became a member of the Covenant House Community in Toronto – an intentional ecumenical community serving people living in poverty, new immigrants and refugees, and other vulnerable groups. 


    In 1981, with the help of other members of Covenant House, Valerie founded a spiritual retreat centre in Rockwood, Ontario: the Word and World Eramosa Centre for Reflection and Response (affectionately known as Eramosa Eden). Working in partnership with Mary Ellen Nettle (deceased 2006) whom she met at Covenant House, Valerie developed and managed Eramosa Eden as an ecumenical retreat centre with a strong focus on eco-spirituality.  During this period, she became an adoptive mother to a young refugee girl from Ethiopia – Martha Ferede - worked as a religious consultant with the Roman Catholic Separate School Board of Peel Region, and earned a doctorate in religious ministry.  Her thesis was entitled: One Mission, One Ministry.


    In 2013, Valerie developed  seven eco-spiritual meditation sites at Eramosa Eden and began writing her book on the need for a new religious ministry based on what she called the “Earth-Human-Divine Relationship.” A key concept in her book was the role of the “Diaconal Minister.”


    In 2014, Valerie took the bold step of becoming a Diaconal Minister for Eramosa Eden, complete with a commissioning ceremony facilitated by the members of the Eramosa Eden Community.  She continued writing her book, the title of which was: For Heaven’s Sake: The Earth-Human-Divine Relationship and the Need for a New Ministry. Val was just a few chapters away from completing her book when she fell ill and transitioned to the next dimension of existence.


     Valerie’s life of service for the spiritual development of humanity, social justice, and reverence for the created universe is a life well-lived and an inspiration for us all.