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In Sister Charlene Cote’s autobiography, she wrote of the point at which she knew definitively that she was going to become an Adrian Dominican Sister:
I had been thinking of entering the convent ever since high school. One day, in the spring of my sophomore year at Siena, I met Sister Ann Joachim in front of Benincasa Dining Hall looking at the bulletin board. Standing next to me she softly said, ‘”Sister Charlene; we don’t have a Sister Charlene,” and off she went! I knew at that moment I was going to enter the convent!
Sister Charlene was born on June 26, 1936, in Chicago to Napoleon and Harriet (Martineau) Coté. Napoleon and Harriet both came from Manistee, Michigan, meeting when Napoleon was a high school senior. He originally planned to go to college with the money he made working in the summertime on the freighters that plied Lake Michigan, but he ended up getting a job right there in Manistee and never did attend college.
Eventually, he moved to Chicago to find a better job, and after Harriet joined him there the two were married and settled down in St. Laurence Parish on the city’s South Side.
Two girls came into the family: Harriet Marie, named for her mother and called Marie to avoid confusion, and then Charlene three and a half years later. About a month after Charlene was born, their father had the family’s surname changed to remove the accent over the e. “I suspect that it was Mom’s idea,” Sister Charlene wrote.
Read more about Sister Charlene (pdf)
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