On April 20, 2013, Mrs. Theresa Cooke of Bishop’s Falls was presented with the Diocesan Medal of Merit by Father Eugene Morris, representing The Most Reverend Robert Daniels, Bishop of the Diocese of Grand Falls. This medal honors her for her lifelong service and devotion to the Catholic Church and to God.
Having recently celebrated her 90th birthday, she has indeed had a long holy life which has been defined by her prayer and contributions to the Catholic faith.
One of her fondest memories is of when she was 16 and was invited by the parish priest, Father Hogan, to help establish a branch of the Legion of Mary in Bishop’s Falls. The Legion of Mary is a lay Catholic organisation founded in Ireland in 1921 to foster devotion to Mary, the Mother of Jesus. She collected her friends together and this group of young women worked for many years, distributing medals and brochures about Mary throughout the town, and raised funds for a statue of Mary which was given to the Presentation Nuns Convent. This group eventually evolved into the Altar Society, which has a main focus of caring for the parish church. She remains a member of the Society today, an unbroken span of more than74 years.
She sang in the choir for years, was one of the first Eucharistic Ministers in Bishop’s Falls, and was a regular Reader at Mass until illness prevented her from regular attendance. Father Burke, a long time parish priest in the town, called on her assistance on a number of occasions. For example, she joined the priests of other parishes in the diocese to collect the Holy Oils from the Bishop at Holy Thursday Services at the Cathedral. She also represented Father Burke on several occasions when he asked her to participate in ecumenical services held in churches of other religions.
She joined a charismatic prayer group in Grand Falls in 1975, giving them their permanent name, the Trinitarian Prayer Group, and for almost 40 years they have prayed together for people going through crises in their lives. Today, many people still call on her for her prayers.
Theresa feels deeply honoured to receive this Medal. She thanks Father Morris, the parishioners of the Diocese who nominated her, and Bishop Daniels for deeming her worthy of this distinction. Her family certainly agrees with them.
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