She escaped Nazis, communists and COVID cops — but not Father Time

A senior who received a ticket to attend Aylmer Church left Canada and never paid the $880

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Martha Oppel fled Nazis, communists and COVID cops in her nearly 88 years on Earth.

But in the end, the woman became known for getting a ticket to attend church in Aylmer, Ontario. couldn’t escape Father Time.

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“She fled from the Nazis and the Red Army to Canada to find peace,” Rev. Henry Hildebrandt of the Church of God in Aylmer tweeted Monday morning. “At 85, the Aylmer police picked her up for going to church, so she moved to the US and found peace there.”

Hildebrandt said it was there, in Ohio, at the home of one of her children, where she died at the age of 87 after a short illness.

She made headlines in February 2021 when she was fined $880 for attending a church service. In fact, she made the front page of the Toronto Sun and was featured in news reports around the world.

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Aylmer Police believed that the rules were the rules and that those rules applied to everyone. The restrictions were set by the province, and it told the Toronto Sun at the time that it was only enforcing these rules to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Martha felt these were draconian measures that were unnecessary and that keeping people out of worship was undemocratic.

“It doesn’t make any sense to me at all,” she told me. “I want to serve God.”

The problem was that Ontario was in COVID-19 lockdown mode, banning large indoor gatherings like church services, theaters, stadiums and even restaurants. The Aylmer police came to her home and gave her the ticket – something she said reminded her of the communists coming to East Germany and the reason she was fleeing to Canada.

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Suddenly she got into trouble with the law because she was attending a church service.

“I would have expected that when the police officer realized it was an 85-year-old woman, he wouldn’t give her the ticket and just give it to me,” Hildebrandt said.

There were no exceptions.

Martha Oppel, 85, shows her lockdown ticket as Pastor Henry Hildebrandt looks on. JACK BOLAND/TORONTO SUN
Martha Oppel, 85, shows her lockdown ticket as Pastor Henry Hildebrandt looks on. JACK BOLAND/TORONTO SUN Photo by Jack Boland, Toronto Sun /Toronto Sun

She fled again – this time to the United States – largely because of the stress that came with that ticket.

“She was strong, but it hit her and she made the decision to leave if things got worse,” Hildebrandt said. “She never paid for the ticket. It was still pending and an appeal to the Supreme Court was pending.”

Hildebrandt said none of the speeding tickets issued during his church’s flouting of lockdown rules have been resolved in court. With the death of Martha Oppel, there is now one person less in the file.

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“Her health has deteriorated rapidly over the past week,” he said.

Her family and friends from Aylmer and other parts of North America were able to get to her daughter’s home in time to say goodbye.

“She chose to die at home surrounded by her children and grandchildren.”

After escaping Hitler and Stalin, Martha died with her faith in God intact and a free human being.

When photographer Jack Boland and I visited her at her home in Aylmer in 2021, she said she felt discouraging people from going to church was a step too far for her to accept, rather than something considered illegal should be, which is why she took a stand did.

“Communism is exactly the same,” she said. “It’s destroying the country.”

She left Canada and never paid for the $880 ticket.


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