DETROIT –– Retired Bishop Patrick R. Cooney of Gaylord, who died early Oct. 15, was remembered as a dedicated pastor, both as priest and as bishop in Detroit and in northern Michigan.
“All of us in the Archdiocese of Detroit are deeply saddened at Bishop Cooney’s death,” Detroit Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron said the next day.
“In his years as a priest and bishop here, and then during his service in the Diocese of Gaylord, he was always a loving pastor and an unfailing support to his brother-priests. We offer condolences to his family, and we join them in commending Bishop Cooney in hope into the hands of the heavenly Father,” the archbishop said.
Bishop Cooney, 78, died at the Beaumont Hospice in Royal Oak.
Although he was a five-time cancer survivor, he also had undergone a triple bypass, and “a combination of things” led to his death, among them congestive heart failure, diabetes and dementia, according to his brother, Father Michael Cooney, pastor of St. Peter Parish in Mount Clemens.
“He was not just my brother, he was my best friend,” the priest said, adding that his brother “was a very calm, prayerful man, who had a great love of his people.”
“He will be missed, because he was well loved. My sisters and I believe he’s upstairs right now, enjoying the result of a life lived well,” the priest told The Michigan Catholic, newspaper of the Detroit Archdiocese.
“Bishop Patrick Cooney was a great servant of the church and a true father to the clergy, religious and faithful of the Diocese of Gaylord,” said Bishop Bernard A. Hebda, who succeeded Bishop Cooney as head of the Gaylord Diocese in 2009.
He said his predecessor “will be remembered as a shepherd who loved his flock, admired his fellow priests, and selflessly poured himself out for the good of this local church.”
After retiring, Bishop Cooney moved to Chesterfield Township, just north of Mount Clemens, and frequently joined his younger brother at the altar for weekend Masses.
But Bishop Cooney’s health had been deteriorating for about the past year, Father Cooney said.
A noon funeral Mass was scheduled for Oct. 22, with Archbishop Vigneron as principal celebrant and Bishop Hebda as homilist, and followed by burial in Holy Sepulcher Cemetery in Southfield.
Born March 10, 1934, in Detroit, Patrick R. Cooney entered Sacred Heart Seminary College, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in philosophy. He next attended the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, receiving a baccalaureate in sacred theology and then a licentiate in sacred theology.
He was ordained a priest of the Detroit Archdiocese Dec. 20, 1959, by Bishop Martin J. O’Connor, then rector of the North American College in Rome.
Following ordination and completion of his studies, then-Father Cooney returned to Detroit and after two years as an assistant pastor, he was appointed assistant chancellor of the archdiocese. He later served as director of the archdiocesan Office of Worship and, from 1977 to 1983, also was rector of the Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament in Detroit. From 1967 to 1972, he also was chaplain at Mercy College, Detroit.
While director of worship, he pursued graduate work at the University of Notre Dame and received a master’s degree in liturgical research.
In December 1982, Pope John Paul II named him an auxiliary bishop of Detroit. From 1987 to 1991, he was liaison to the Catholic chaplains of the U.S. church’s episcopal Region VI, which included Michigan and Ohio.
He was chairman of the Church in the City Task Force in the Detroit Archdiocese, and served on a number of the U.S. bishops’ committees.
He was named bishop of Gaylord Jan. 28, 1990. He served until his retirement in 2009 at age 75, the age bishops are required by canon law to submit their resignation to the pope.
Besides Father Cooney, Bishop Cooney is survived by two sisters, Dominican Sister Leontia Cooney and Mary A. Cooney.
Delaney is on the staff of The Michigan Catholic, newspaper of the Detroit Archdiocese.