Sister Alvina Cormier
“The Lord is my light and my salvation.” Psalm 36
December 2, 2014, Sister Alvina Cormier,
in religion, Sister Marie-Félix,
went home to God.
She was 85 years old and had been professed for 58 years.
Born in East Angus, (Compton) in Quebec,
on September 17, 1929,
she was the ninth of ten children of
Évariste Cormier and Georgiana Champoux.
Alvina was born in “an Anglophone and rather Protestant milieu”, but also in a milieu where there was mutual help between families, especially during the “social misfortune” which followed the financial collapse of nineteen twenty-nine. Her parents, who had deep religious convictions and were fervent churchgoers, educated their children “in keeping with the highest possible standards of Catholic education in the thirties”, wrote Alvina. Her parents instructed them with sound religious principles.
Alvina’s education was somewhat unusual. Her primary studies, until Grade 6, took place at the parochial school; then she became a boarder with the Ursuline Sisters in Stanstead, where her mother’s sister who was a nun, lived. She completed grade nine there and then studied with the CND’s where she received her grade ten certificate. She returned to the convent in East Angus to take commercial courses.
She then turned to nursing school but was not accepted because she was too young; but she was offered a job in the archives department at the Sherbrooke Hospital. She later took a two-year nursing course, but gave it up due to the demands as a trainee. She finally found work as a secretary in the company where her father was working in Cap-de la-Madeleine. She wrote: “Rather indecisive but in spite of everything, I stood firm with my many friends.”
Following a discussion about faith with her friends, she was disappointed with everyone. Already influenced by the numerous religious vocations in her family, three brothers and a sister, her decision was made: she would become a Sister and teaching was very appealing to her. On January twenty-third, 1954, she entered the novitiate at the SNJM Motherhouse in Outremont, where her sister Gertrude (Evariste-Marie), was already a Sister.
As a young professed, Sister Alvina began teaching elementary school and this led to thirty years in a variety of schools and boarding schools in Quebec, especially in the Eastern Townships, her birthplace. She taught at Mont Jésus-Marie for fifteen years.
In 1958, she returned to the Motherhouse for her Juniorate year, and in 1960 for two years of study at the Scholasticate so as to get her “Brevets C and B in teaching”. In 1971, she got her “Brevet A” from the Université de Sherbrooke. When asked what apostolate she preferred, Sister Alvina wrote: “Teaching catechism to young people because it gave me the chance to get to know Jesus better” and she had put her whole heart into it!
In 1989, she was living at the Motherhouse where she assumed various community services: in the infirmary as a medical secretary, while being the animator of the ‘Groupe L’Attisée’. At the time of the move from the Motherhouse in 2005, she was named to Résidence Marie-Rose-Durocher. In 2009, she was welcomed into Maison Jésus-Marie where she assumed a ministry of prayer.
And on December 2, 2014, Sister Alvina was united with “the One who was and would always be her light, her strength, her peace and her joy.”