Sister Ellen Leonard, CSJ (formerly Sister Loyola) died peacefully at the Sisters of St. Joseph Residence, 2 O’Connor Drive, Toronto, Ontario on Thursday, August 18, 2022, in the 71st year of her religious life.
She was predeceased by her parents, Hugh Leonard and Mary (nee Barry) Leonard. She is survived by her beloved sister, Anne Leonard. She will be sadly missed by her family, her faithful friend, Mary Rose D’Angelo, Sisters in community, colleagues and friends.
Sister Ellen was born in Toronto and was baptized at Blessed Sacrament Parish. Following graduation from St. Joseph’s College School, she entered the Sisters of St. Joseph of Toronto in 1951, where her aunt, Sister Ignatia Leonard, CSJ was a member of the congregation.
Sister Ellen entered the teaching profession and taught elementary school for many years before pursuing further studies and obtaining a Ph.D. in Theology from the University of St. Michael’s College in 1978.
Sister Ellen was among the first women to study theology in Canada, and to teach at the Faculty of Theology at St. Michael’s. Following Vatican II, Sister Ellen welcomed the opportunity to teach seminarians and laity, encouraging all, and women in particular, to participate more meaningfully in Church leadership. When asked in an interview “about what are you most proud” she replied, “working with women students”.
The advancement of women’s equality was the central priority for Sister Ellen both in the Church and in academia. Through talks given in parish halls or at conferences on the role of women in theological education she educated others about women’s equality.
Sister Ellen had a joy and zest for life and loved music, bridge, painting and skiing.
She possessed a generous, joyful spirit, incisive intelligence and was a mentor to many. She loved the study of theology and was loved by her students and colleagues at the Faculty of Theology at the University of St. Michael’s College.
In recent years, Sister Ellen experienced failing health and moved to the residence of the Sisters of St. Joseph, where she was assisted with her care by the very generous and dedicated staff. Sister Ellen was supported by her sisters in community as well as many close friends and colleagues.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Fontbonne Ministries and you can click here for more information.