Waterloo Region Generations
A record of the people of Waterloo Region, Ontario.

Sister Edna Paulena Monk

Female 1912 - 2019  (106 years)

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  • Name Edna Paulena Monk 
    Prefix Sister 
    Born 4 Jul 1912  , Bruce Co., Ontario Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Gender Female 
    Eby ID Number Waterloo-202690 
    Died 23 Jan 2019  Kitchener, Waterloo Region, Ontario, Canada Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Buried Hanover Cemetery, Hanover, Grey Co., Ontario Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Person ID I202690  Generations
    Last Modified 1 Dec 2019 

  • Notes 
    • LIFETIMES: Sister Edna Monk left a legacy brimming with love and devotion to her church

      Edna was born July 4, 1912, the youngest of nine kids in a farming family near Elmwood, north of Hanover.

      Feb 03, 2019 by Valerie Hill Waterloo Region Record

      KITCHENER \emdash In the days when the Lutheran Church was mostly run by men, a young woman from the farming community of Elmwood found a way to serve.

      "She became a deaconess: they called them 'sisters,' " said longtime friend, Donna Girodat.

      Lutheran deaconesses supported the minister, visited the sick, filled in conducting religious ceremonies when necessary among many other duties. This was the role Edna chose, a role that allowed her to take care of others both spiritually and emotionally.

      "She was very personable, a bright ray of sunshine to be around," said Donna.

      Edna was born July 4, 1912, the youngest of nine kids in a farming family near Elmwood, north of Hanover. She was a smart kid and skipped several grades. But it would be her membership in the Luther League, a Lutheran youth organization, that cemented her chosen career path.

      Niece Marjorie Carroll, former mayor of the City of Waterloo, said Edna's father was not happy about his daughter's determination to become a deaconess. He was old fashioned and believed her role should be as a wife and mother but Marjorie had other ideas. She wanted a career and she loved the church.

      "She was independent, she was determined," said Marjorie who is proud to have 'Edna' as her own middle name.

      Edna had a deep influence on Marjorie, one that lead her to become a nurse, work in public health then run for office. Marjorie sat on city council for a term in 1974 then served as the city's first female mayor from 1977 to 1988.

      "She often talked to me about what to do with my life," said Marjorie. "She influenced me to do something different telling me 'get out there and make your mark.' "

      Edna certainly made her own mark during an era when farm girls had few options.

      After helping care for her minister brother until he married, Edna then headed to Baltimore, Md., where she enrolled in the Lutheran Deaconess Training School. Her education included three months of nursing training followed by on the job training in a Philadelphia hospital during the summers of 1938 and 1939. She also served a Maryland parish.

      After her 1942 consecration as a full Lutheran sister, Edna received her first assignment: a nursing home in New York state followed by postings in several U.S. churches as well as Kitchener, where her roles included leading Sunday school programs and vacation bible schools, guiding women's and children's programs and youth camps. She conducted visiting programs, served on the synodal committee and was called on to use her secretarial skills for the churches where she worked.

      "At heart she was a teacher," said Marjorie. "She always took leadership roles in church."

      Becoming a deaconess filled both those desires but there was one problem working in Canada: being assured of a regular paycheque.

      "It wasn't a problem in the States," said Marjorie, who noted her aunt was by no means money hungry, she just wanted enough to live on.

      Edna had been posted to St. Peter's Lutheran Church in Kitchener from 1951 to 1955 during which time she had begun to institute changes in the church: expanding Christian education and modernizing the way things were done.

      A year after leaving St. Peter's and living back in the U.S. Edna officially left the deaconate but continued to work for the church. She was called into service by the department of evangelism in New York City, placed in charge of membership and referral services for the U.S. and Canada. She held that job from 1956 until 1973, leaving when the headquarters was moved out of state.

      Edna continued working in her Manhattan church, then from 1973 to 1975 in the church house. Finally, she retired and decided to return to Canada, back to her home in tiny Elmwood.

      In 2001, she was on the move again, this time to Kitchener where she joined the downtown St. Matthew's Lutheran Church. Edna's experience serving for so many decades in the church made her invaluable as a volunteer. One of her favourite activities was the church's Loaves & Fishes programs, where many lonely people come for lunch and fellowship. Edna appreciated the hot catered lunches and the many new friendships she developed.

      "She was a very helpful lady," said Donna, recalling how Edna got involved in everything, at the church and at her seniors residence. She would often be the one greeting new people and introducing them around.

      "People loved her," said Donna. "She had a smile, she just beamed."

      Donna said her friend often spoke about how her smile was her calling card. It was a way to put people at ease.

      When Edna first arrived in Kitchener she lived in a rented condo for seniors but when the owner died she had to move to another seniors residence. By then, well into her 90s, Edna stubbornly refused to admit she might need a place with more care.

      Edna had never married and, according to Donna, used to joke that she had asked men but no one accepted. The truth was, she did express regrets over not having children of her own and there hadn't been rules about celibacy for Lutheran sisters since the 1800s.

      Edna instead filled her life with service to others and she kept up on world affairs, reading daily newspapers, watching news reports. Not one to sit idle she had collected old greeting cards, cut and pasted to make new ones for her friends. She played word games, loved cards, particularly euchre, and remained engaged in life. She was always stylishly dressed which had been an interesting postretirement progression from the grey and black uniforms she'd had to wear as a Lutheran sister. Edna preferred brightly coloured outfits.

      "She was always so straight and tall and gracious," said Donna.

      But the years eventually began to wear her down.

      As Edna hit 100 then 101, 102, she started to lose her independence but still refused to go into a home.

      Then in the days leading up to Christmas last year, Edna fell and required hospitalization. She would never return to her apartment. She was 106 and finally had to concede.

      "Physically she wasn't as spry but she was very alert," said Donna.

      "Last year she turned 106 and she told me 'why is God keeping me here? I'm ready to go,'" recalled Donna. "She was ready to go but she still had that fight in her."

      Finally, less than six months before her 107th birthday, Edna died, Jan. 23, 2019.

      Donna concluded of her friend "she was opinionated, well ahead of her time and she was well loved."


      Hill, V. (2019). LIFETIMES: Sister Edna Monk left a legacy brimming with love and devotion to her church. KitchenerPost.ca. Retrieved 5 February 2019, from https://www.kitchenerpost.ca/news-story/9156394-lifetimes-sister-edna-monk-left-a-legacy-brimming-with-love-and-devotion-to-her-church/



      Published Date: Jan 29, 2019
      Event Date: Jan 23, 2019

      MONK, Edna Paulena Deaconess with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada Passed away peacefully at St. Mary's General Hospital, Kitchener on Wednesday, January 23, 2019 in her 107th year. Edna was born July 4, 1912 and was the beloved daughter of the late Joseph and Hannah (Stadtlander) Monk. Edna was the youngest of nine children and was predeceased by six brothers and two sisters, Bert, Otto, Amelia, Reuben "RJ", Laura, Alvin, Victor and Dan. Fondly remembered by many nieces, nephews, her church family at St. Matthews Lutheran Church in Kitchener, and by her extended family and friends. Edna devoted her life in service to the Lutheran Church. In September 1937, she crossed the border to study for two years at the Lutheran Deaconess Training School in Baltimore, Maryland. She was invested with the garb in 1938 and consecrated in June 1942. In November 1944, she became a Naturalized citizen of the United States. Her first assignment was for the Lutheran Home for the Aged in Clinton, N.Y. This was followed by 16 years of service for churches throughout the northeastern USA and Kitchener, Ontario. In 1956, Edna personally chose to withdraw from the diaconate, but continued her service in the church with the Department of Evangelism of the Lutheran Church in America until 1973 and then with St. Peter's Lutheran Church, Manhattan until 1975. She retired and moved back to Hanover, Ontario where she was active in the program at St. Matthew's Evangelical Lutheran Church and participated in the celebration of their 125th Anniversary. In 2001 Edna moved to Kitchener and transferred to St. Matthews Lutheran Church, Kitchener in 2002 and participated in many programs including Loaves and Fishes, E.L.W., Reader for World Day of Prayer and Praise Offering Services, Prayer Group and the Leprosy Mission. Edna was very grateful for the love and help from her friends at St. Matthews and the opportunity to serve in those capacities. Edna joyfully celebrated her birthday every year on the Fourth of July and received birthday wishes from family and friends in Canada, USA and worldwide, most recently on her 106th birthday in July 2018. Everyone who knew and loved Edna was truly blessed. A Memorial Service to celebrate Edna's life will be held at St. Matthews Lutheran Church, 54 Benton St., Kitchener, Ontario on Saturday, February 2nd at 2: 00 p.m. with visitation beginning one hour prior to the service. Reception to follow at St. Matthews Church. Cremation has taken place. Interment in the Hanover Cemetery to follow at a later date. Edna's family wishes to express their deep gratitude and appreciation to her caregivers, friends and church family for looking after Edna over the last number of years. Special thanks to Mrs. Donna Girodat, Pastor Sebastian Meadows-Helmer and the Gordon A. Monk Funeral Home for all of their help and support. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations to the Golden Hours Broadcast of St. Matthews Lutheran Church, Kitchener, Ontario would be greatly appreciated and can be arranged with the church or through the Gordon A. Monk Funeral Home Ltd., P.O. Box 427, Minden, Ontario K0M 2K0 www.gordonmonkfuneralhome.com "The Lord shall preserve thee from all evil: he shall preserve thy soul. The Lord shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore." Psalm 121: 7-8

      MONK, Edna Paulena - www.therecord.com | TheRecord.com. (2019). Therecord.com. Retrieved 5 February 2019, from https://www.therecord.com/announcements-obituaries-memorials/obituaries-death-notices/9148332-monk-edna-paulena/

  • Event Map
    Link to Google MapsBorn - 4 Jul 1912 - , Bruce Co., Ontario Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsDied - 23 Jan 2019 - Kitchener, Waterloo Region, Ontario, Canada Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsBuried - - Hanover Cemetery, Hanover, Grey Co., Ontario Link to Google Earth
     = Link to Google Earth