By Kiply Lukan Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News
“Please, God, help the Parkinson’s people to keep faith and go on. I accept, Lord. Give me the strength to go on.”
So wrote the late Sr. Adelaide Fortowsky, OSU, in her diary in 2009.
An Ursuline sister of Prelate, SK. for 65 years, Sr. Adelaide drew on her decades of teaching, clowning, worship, and life experiences to bolster her hopeful perspective on living with Parkinson’s disease before her death in July 2016 at the age of 86.
Her reflections and day-to-day experiences with this debilitating disease have been published in a book entitled My Soul Still Dances: Living with Parkinson’s. The book consists of excerpts from Fortowsky’s “Parkinson’s Story” diary entries, produced with assistance from her long time friend, Sr. Rosetta Reiniger, OSU. Sr. Magdalene Stengler, OSU, also assisted with the production of the book.
“Sr. Adelaide and I were friends for 60 years. I was her caregiver for the many years that she lived with Parkinson’s disease,” says Reiniger.
“Her creativity helped her cope with her deteriorating health, but it was her faith in God that kept her living with vitality through the most difficult times, focusing on service to others with her ‘little acts of magic’ and to bring joy to others,” she summarizes.
“She developed a dream that what she called her ‘Parkinson’s Story’ would be printed to assist families and caregivers in grasping what is happening to their loved ones suffering from the disease and to help in finding positive ways of living with Parkinson,” says Reiniger in the forward of the book.
Sr. Adelaide drew on her decades of teaching, clowning, worship and life experiences to bolster her hopeful perspective on living with a debilitating illness. It was Sr Adelaide’s faith in God that kept her living with vitality through the most difficult times, focusing on service to others with her “little acts of magic” to bring joy to those around her in the midst of coping with her own deteriorating health.
Sr. Adelaide’s diary entries cover a wide range of emotions, including times of struggle with the disabling effects of the disease. Reiniger notes Sr. Adelaide’s prayer: “May the Lord dance with me through it all – at least do a slow waltz.”
Born Bertha Fortowsky, she entered the Ursulines of Prelate in 1951, and became known as Sr. Adelaide, OSU, making her temporary vows in 1953 and her perpetual vows in 1956. She attended Teacher’s College in Saskatoon, and taught elementary grades for 29 years in the Saskatchewan communities of Barthel, Prelate, Richmound, Macklin, and Quinton, joining the staff at St. Angela’s Academy in Prelate in 1985, and teaching there until 2003.
It was in her persona of “Allelu the clown” that she “stayed young at heart,” creating a prayerful, joyful spirit at the Academy and beyond. “She further ministered through her gifts of poetry and creativity by posting notes on her ‘Sunshine Board’ with affirmations the Academy girls and staff, and later, to the parishioners in Prelate. She continued these ‘sunshine notes’ when she lived at St. Angela Merici Residence” in Saskatoon, where she spent the last six years of her life, wrote Reiniger.
My Soul Still Dances can be purchased for $19.95 by contacting Sister Rosetta Reiniger, 125 Cree Crescent, Saskatoon, SK S7K 7J1 or by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling:(306) 361-8034.