Ellen (Phyllis) Cotone, OSB

Once our music group arrived at a retirement home to entertain the residents, only to discover the piano was a half step lower than the accordion and other instruments. “No problem,” Sister Ellen Cotone said. “I will just play everything a half step lower.”

S. Ellen’s music career began at the age of five when she began taking piano lessons near her home in Crystal, Minn. Her love and abilities led her as a teenager to provide piano accompaniament at a local dance studio. After high school, she and her brother played in night clubs in Minneapolis. “Why would you want to join the convent after that?” I asked her. “I hate to cook,” she answered. S. Ellen is as bright and witty as she is gifted.

After entering Saint Benedict’s Monastery, she became a music professor at the College of Saint Benedict for 18 years, served two years as organist at St. Paul’s Monastery in St. Paul and then spent 10 years at the Sisters’ mission in Brazil. She returned in 2000 to serve as an organist at Saint Scholastica Convent.

Here she joined S. Ancille Vertin, with whom she played beautiful duets for feast day liturgies. For a full description of her music ministry, see page X of this issue.

As gifted as S. Ellen is in music, it has always been secondary to her love for the daily Eucharist, Liturgy of the Hours and community activities.

Written by Margaret Mandernach, OSB