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Featured Article: "Patkau, Esther (1927-2017)"

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Esther Patkau preaching, 2002.
Photo: Jake Buhler.

Esther Patkau: missionary, pastor, chaplain, historian and friend; born 27 August 1927 to Kornelius and Katharina Patkau on a farm near Hanley, Saskatchewan, Canada. Her parents were farmers having just arrived from the Soviet Union. She died in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. on 18 December 2017 at age 90 and is buried in the Hanley Mennonite Church Cemetery. Following completion of elementary school in Hanley, she attended Rosthern Bible School before matriculating at Rosthern Junior College with a high school diploma in 1947. She pursued more education at Canadian Mennonite Bible College, graduating with a degree in theology in 1950, followed by another bachelor’s degree in education at Bethel College in Kansas in 1951.

Esther Patkau was then ready, she said much later, for her first job. That job, in 1951, was to be a missionary to Japan serving under the Mission Board of the General Conference Mennonite Church. Since she could not be ordained as a minister, she was commissioned as a missionary. Ordination for women came a dozen years later. For 23 years she served as a missionary learning a difficult language, and worked to establish the Oyodo Christian Church in Miyazaki, Kyushu. She was much loved. Upon her return to Canada in 1974 she was ordained and installed as a minister at First Mennonite Church in Saskatoon where she served for seven years. Ever interested in learning, Esther obtained a master’s degree in theology in 1981 from Lutheran Theological Seminary in Saskatoon, majoring in pastoral care and counseling. From 1983 to 2005 she was a hospital chaplain in Saskatoon. Then from 2005 to 2017, she was the Spiritual Care Coordinator at Bethany Manor, a Mennonite Seniors Home in Saskatoon.

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