Sister Renee was born February 25, 1920, in Charleston, South Carolina, the first child of Nelida and Felix Cormier. They named her Marie Frances, the oldest of four girls and twin brothers. Why South Carolina? Her father was a carpenter and repaired ships used in WWI. Her mother was an R.N., having graduated from St. Mary’s Hospital in Duluth. The Cormiers returned to Cloquet and later moved to West Duluth where Marie completed eight grades at St. James School, taught by Benedictine Sisters from St. Scholastica. In 1934 Marie’s mother learned that Mother Agnes Somers was making her annual visitation to the Sisters in Cloquet. Marie and her mother went to Cloquet, hoping to speak with the Reverend Mother. Marie’s mother visited with Mother Agnes and then told Marie that she would go to 9th grade at Villa Sancta Scholaastica as an aspirant under the care of Sister Monica Simon. When Marie realized that being an aspirant could lead to becoming a Sister, she was overjoyed with the arrangement, as she had often expressed her wish to become a Sister and teacher. Marie’s aunt was Sister Marie Mailhot, so Marie knew the life well, as she had often visited Sister Marie. After completing high school at Stanbrook Hall, Marie entered the convent on August 30, 1938. When she completed her postulancy and novitiate, Sister Renee’s first assignment in 1940 was as first grade teacher at St. Thomas School in International Falls. From there she continued to teach in Minneapolis, Chicago, Duluth, Virginia, Crosby, and Wayzata, and finally ended up where she had begun to teach—in International Falls in 1978. Sister Renee has a black book containing each student’s name—1,126 total. Her winning smile and pleasing personality, together with individual interest in each student, endeared her to the little tots. Her creativity was not overlooked as she wrote stories in book form for each student who had difficulty in reading—personal stories to which each could relate. Sister Renee will celebrate a Diamond Jubilee (70 years) this coming summer, and another article about her later years will be included in the 2010 Annual Report. Happy 90th, Sister Renee!
The Benedictine Sisters of St. Scholastica Monastery