Born in Valley City, N.D., Sister Suzanne was the third child born to Lee and Anne Slominski. Lee and Anne’s second daughter, Annetta Marie, had died as an infant. S. Suzanne remembers her dad telling her how happy they were that she was born healthy and that she was so tiny, she fit into a shoebox. She was, however, an inch too long, so they had to shorten her neck a bit, thus creating the scar on the back of her neck that she has to this day. Is there any doubt as to where she got her wonderful sense of humor?
At age two, S. Suzanne’s family moved to St. Cloud, Minn., where her father purchased and operated a filling station. While at the gas station, 4-4 was a well-used telephone number by the children. It could be dialed easily and quickly: “‘Dad, could Leon and I take a nickel for ice cream?’ Dad always said, ‘Yes.’”
It was at St. Mary’s Cathedral and St. Mary’s Grade School where S. Suzanne began her relationship with the Benedictine sisters. She also attended Cathedral High School and fondly remembers her high school days where she was influenced by Sister Mary Charles and Sister Jeremy who remained lifelong friends. Sadly, it was during these years that S. Suzanne’s beloved father was diagnosed with leukemia and passed away shortly afterward.
In the fall of 1946, S. Suzanne entered the monastery where her artistic talent was quickly discovered, and she was assigned to work with Sister Josiah in artistic endeavors. The following year, she entered the novitiate as Sister Stanley. After making first monastic profession, she was immediately assigned to the White Earth Indian School where she taught 5th and 6th grades. There, her 75 years in Catholic education began in earnest. To this day, the people of White Earth hold a special place in her heart, and she continues to receive cards and visits from former students.
Next came principalship at St. Paul’s School in St. Cloud, Holy Family School in Sauk Centre, Minn., and St. John’s-St. Andrew’s School in Greenwald, Minn. The Benedictine value of hospitality lives strongly in S. Suzanne as she interacts with her fellow sisters, students, staff and parishioners with a twinkle in her eye, a listening ear, and a heart always open to others. Several years ago, a writer for the St. Cloud Visitor, the former newspaper of the Diocese of St. Cloud, described her as the “St. John the Baptist of rural Minnesota.”
Being a lifelong learner herself, S. Suzanne completed a bachelor’s degree and two master’s degrees, along with a specialist degree in administration, during summer breaks. Being an Apple computer specialist, she was among the pioneers in technology training in the Diocese of St. Cloud. As an exemplary Catholic educator, she was awarded the National Catholic Principal of the Year by the National Catholic Education Association.
In retirement, S. Suzanne enjoys volunteering at schools and with Benedictine Friends, our program that pairs a sister with a student at the College of Saint Benedict, teaching glass painting to students. A slower pace allows her the time for praying for others as she crochets prayer shawls for the elderly.
Asked if she would recommend religious life to others, she responds with a smile: “Absolutely. If given the chance, I would do it all over again. I have been so blessed.”
Thank you, S. Suzanne, our city girl-turned-country, for generously sharing yourself and bearing much fruit over the past 75 years.
Profile written by Janine Braun, OSB