Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Today is the 90th birthday of Servant of God Cardinal Terence Cooke

Terence James Cooke (March 1, 1921 – October 6, 1983) was an American Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church. He served as Archbishop of New York from 1968 until his death, and was elevated to the cardinalate in 1969.

Early life and education:
The youngest of three children, Terence Cooke was born in New York City to Michael and Margaret Cooke. His parents were both from County Galway, Ireland, and named their son after Terence MacSwiney, the Lord Mayor of Cork who died on a hunger strike during the Irish War of Independence. His father also worked as a chauffeur and construction worker. At age 5, he and his family moved from Morningside Heights, Manhattan, to the northeast Bronx. Following his mother's death in 1930, his aunt helped raise him and his siblings.

Cooke, after expressing an early interest in the priesthood, entered the minor seminary of the Archdiocese of New York in 1934. In 1940, he entered St. Joseph's Seminary in Yonkers.

Following the death of Cardinal Spellman in December 1967, Cooke was named the seventh Archbishop of New York on March 2, 1968.

His appointment came as a surprise; likely contenders for the post included Fulton J. Sheen, a television personality and Bishop of Rochester, and Archbishop Maguire, who had been Spellman's coadjutor but did not hold the right to succession.In addition to his duties in New York, he was named Vicar Apostolic for the U.S. Military on April 4, and was installed in both positions at St. Patrick's Cathedral.

That same day, Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee, leading to a nationwide wave of riots in more than 100 cities. In response, Cooke went to Harlem to plea for racial peace and later attended King's funeral. He baptized Rory Kennedy.

Cooke helped implement the reforms of the Second Vatican Council in the Archdiocese, and adopted a more conciliatory managerial style than his predecessor, Cardinal Spellman. Pope Paul VI created him Cardinal Priest of Santi Giovanni e Paolo (the traditional titular church of the New York archbishops) in the consistory of April 28,1969.

At the time of his elevation, he was the second youngest member of the College of Cardinals after Alfred Bengsch, who was six months younger than Cooke. Cooke was theologically conservative but progressive in secular matters.

During his tenure as Archbishop, he founded nine nursing homes; Birthright, which offers women alternatives to abortion; the Inner-City Scholarship Fund, which provides financial aid for inner-city Catholic schools; an Archdiocesan Housing Development Program, providing housing to New York's disadvantaged; and the Catholic New York, the archdiocesan newspaper. In 1974, he went to the Pontifical North American College in Rome, where he attended lectures on the Second Vatican Council given by his future successor, Edward Egan. His leukemia was deemed terminal in 1975.

Cooke was one of the cardinal electors who participated in the conclaves of August and October 1978, which selected Popes John Paul I and John Paul II, respectively. In 1979, he received the Dalai Lama and Pope John Paul II at St. Patrick's Cathedral.

Illness and death:

In late August 1983, Cooke revealed his illness to the public; he announced that he was expected to live for a few more months, but would not resign his post. He was on almost constant chemotherapy for the last five years of his life. In an open letter completed only days before his death, he wrote, "The gift of life, God's special gift, is no less beautiful when it is accompanied by illness or weakness, hunger or poverty, mental or physical handicaps, loneliness or old age."

Cooke died from his battle with leukemia in his episcopal residence, at age 62. He is interred in the crypt under the altar of St. Patrick's Cathedral.

On April 5, 1984, President Ronald Reagan posthumously awarded Cardinal Cooke the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
In 1988, he was posthumously awarded the F. Sadlier Dinger Award by William H. Sadlier, Inc. for his outstanding contributions to the ministry of religious education in America.

Cause for Canonization:
Cardinal Cooke was widely regarded as a holy person by many New Yorkers during his episcopal ministry as Archbishop of New York, and soon after his death in 1983, a movement to canonize him as a saint began. In 1984, with the support of Cooke's successor, Archbishop (and future Cardinal) John Joseph O'Connor, the Cardinal Cooke Guild was established. In 1992, the Vatican's Congregation for the Causes of Saints officially designated Cardinal Cooke as a Servant of God, a first step in the canonization process that leads to beatification and then canonization as a saint. Rev. Benedict Groeschel, CFR, is the postulator for the cause.

The Cardinal Cooke Guild
Invites you
to join us at a Mass of Remembrance
for the Servant of God
Terence Cardinal Cooke
on the occasion of his
Ninetieth Birthday
March 1, 2011
The Church of Saint John the Evangelist
55th Street and First Avenue
New York City
12:10 PM
Reverend Monsignor Peter Finn
Celebrant and Homilist
All are welcome
and invited to attend.

Prayer for the Canonization of Cardinal Cooke:

Almighty and eternal Father, we thank you for the exemplary life and gentle kindness of your son and bishop, Terence Cooke. If it be your gracious will, grant that the virtues of your servant may be recognized and provide a lasting example for your people. We pray through Our Lord Jesus Christ your son who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, One God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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