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Catholic Vancouver Sept. 24, 2018

Great-grandmother still inspiring lives at 105

By Agnieszka Ruck

Catholic great-grandmother Louise Schubert turns 105 years old Oct. 6. (Agnieszka Krawczynski photos)

NORTH VANCOUVER—She’s turning 105 this month, but this great-grandmother is still finding ways to inspire.

“My father always said: ‘Don’t lose your humour. Then, you are lost.’ So I am keeping it,” said Louise Schubert, who will celebrate her birthday with family Oct. 6.

Schubert, born in Germany and a survivor of two world wars, is a longtime parishioner of St. Anthony’s Parish in West Vancouver. She lives in a care home on the North Shore.

“We are all human beings, aren’t we? No Polish, no Russian, no German. That’s how I see the world: full of human beings,” she said.

Schubert immigrated to Canada in 1952 with husband Walter, daughter, and sister. After Walter died in 1965, she continued show her family her determined, strong character. She worked until she was 80 years old.

At age 100, she received a birthday card from Queen Elizabeth and greetings from Canada’s Governor General. Five years later, she has two grandchildren, three great-grandchildren, and continues to inspire those she meets.

“You have to be very strong to get through this time. I have my guardian angel. He pushed me, always: ‘Don’t give up, don’t give up. It’s why I’m still here,’” she said.

Deacon Richard Podgurski, a Catholic hospital chaplain, visits Schubert’s care home frequently to offer Communion, prayers, or a blessing. “She is teaching me, truly,” he told The B.C. Catholic during a visit with Schubert this summer.

When they first met, Schubert was about 103 years old and told Deacon Podgurski she often asks God why he’s kept her alive so long. The answer? She believes God must still have a job for her.  

Louise Schubert with Deacon Richard Podgurski, who says the 104-year-old woman is “inspiring many.”

Deacon Podgurski is convinced that is true. Just over a year ago, he was regularly visiting and bringing Communion to a Catholic woman in her 80s who was ill in hospital.

One day, as he came to visit, the woman confessed she’d been refusing to eat for three days because she wanted to die. “I was speechless. What should I say? ‘You should eat’? It didn’t work for the nurses for three days.”

Then he thought of Schubert and told the woman about the 103-year-old living nearby who kept on going because she believed God had work for her to do. Then, he gave her Communion and began to leave.

“I was by the door when she said: ‘Come back. You see that tray by my bed? Could you bring it closer to me? Maybe I’ll have a little bit of food.’”

Two nurses, who had been waiting just outside the doorway, were shocked the deacon’s words had convinced her to eat. Three days later, the woman was discharged from hospital.

“Louise helped me to communicate something when I had nothing to say,” he said. “Those kinds of experiences help me to serve people, and that’s why she’s inspiring many.”

Though Schubert can’t make it to St. Anthony’s for Mass anymore, she’s remembered fondly by those at her parish, including pastor Father Gary Franken.

“Louise Schubert has been in the parish for a very long time and is a very beautiful person of faith. She was still living on her own when I got to the parish seven years ago,” he said.

“Her approach to living this long is very inspiring.”

Schubert will celebrate her 105th birthday with cake and family.