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Obituary: Father Leo G. Cormier, senior priest dies in Lowell


Father Leo G. Cormier Pilot file photo

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Father Leo G. Cormier, a priest of the archdiocese since his ordination on Feb. 2, 1957, died at Lowell General Hospital on Dec. 15, 2020, 15 days shy of his 90th birthday.

Father Cormier was born in Lowell and was one of the 11 children of the late Edward and Emilie (Allard) Cormier. His family had roots in Marlborough, where his parents were married. Having moved to Lowell, the family grew in a largely French Canadian neighborhood in St. Jeanne D'Arc parish (French).

He attended local Catholic Schools, including St. Joseph High School. He went to Quebec and, after attending college in St. Hyacinth there, he was accepted for seminary formation at St. John, Brighton, as a member of the class of 1957.

Archbishop Richard Cushing ordained him to the priesthood at Holy Cross Cathedral on Feb. 2, 1957, and also gave him his first priestly assignment as an assistant at St. Thomas Aquinas, Bridgewater. Two more assignments as an assistant would follow in 1959 to St. Anthony of Padua, Shirley, and, in 1961, to St. Joseph Parish (French), Salem. This later parish would be much reminiscent of Lowell, serving the French Canadians of the Witch City, with its own parish elementary and high schools.

In 1963, he was appointed an assistant at Our Lady of Lourdes, Jamaica Plain, and, in 1969, he went to another French personal parish, interestingly to the place where his parents met and were married, where he was an associate at St. Mary Parish (French) there.

His last and lengthiest parish assignment followed when, in 1972, Archbishop Humberto Medeiros named him an associate at St. Ann by the Sea in Marshfield. He remained in Marshfield for almost two and half decades until he was granted senior priest retirement status by Bernard Cardinal Law in 1996.

He retired to his own residence in Dracut but was a familiar presence in the Merrimack-area parishes until quite recently. His more than 24 years of senior priest status exceeded his tenure at Marshfield by several months.

In addition to his second language French, in which he was fluent, he was also proficient in Portuguese and fluent in Latin.

Merrimack Regional Bishop Robert Hennessey was scheduled to be the principal celebrant of Father Cormier's funeral Mass at St. Francis of Assisi Church, Dracut, on Dec. 22, 2020. Father Paul T. Clifford, pastor of St. Francis of Assisi and St. Clare, parishes in Braintree, was to be the homilist. Among concelebrants also scheduled to be at the Mass were Father Brian R. Kiely, rector of Pope St. John XXIII Seminary, Weston, and Father Seán M. Maher, the pastor of St. Francis of Assisi, Dracut.

Father Cormier's immediate survivors are his brother, Edward of Chelmsford, and two sisters, Ruth Shaw, Dracut, and Lucille Gayer, Lowell.

Following the funeral Mass, Father Cormier was buried in St. Joseph Cemetery, Chelmsford.

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