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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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Dr. Bernard J. Cooke

Issue Date: June 26, 2013

Dr. Bernard J. Cooke, an internationally renowned theologian, author and lecturer and former Jesuit priest, died on his 91st birthday May 31 of this year at the Village at Incarnate Word in San Antonio, Tex.

Born May 31, 1922 in Norway, Mi., he was the oldest of five sons born to Dr. and Mrs. J.M. Cooke. His father was a dentist in Marinette and all five Cooke boys attended Lourdes Grade School and graduated from Lourdes High School. Bernard graduated in 1939.

In later years Mrs. Cooke was the daily mass organist at the new Lourdes church on Taylor Street in Marinette. Bernard left the priesthood to marry his wife, Pauline who is a theologian and taught at Marquette University. His brother, David also was a Jesuit priest and taught math at Marquette High School in Milwaukee. Dave also left the priesthood and married his wife, Leann. He and his wife and children reside in Sacramento, Calif. He graduated from Lourdes High School in 1947.

Dr. Cooke published over 20 books and lectured in many countries, including Canada, France, Spain, Switzerland, Japan, Korea, Ireland and East Africa. He recently taught grateful residents of the retirement center where he and his wife lived. Dr. Cooke’s areas of professional specialization were sacramental theology (religious symbol and ritual), New Testament, religious psychology, and history of theological method.

When awarding him an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Humane Letters the University of Detroit cited Dr. Cooke as a theologian who has played a leading role in the United States in transforming theology from an irrelevant academic exercise into a means of vital contact with today’s problems and today’s people. The editors of A Sacramental Life: A Festschrift Honoring Bernard Cooke also esteemed him as the leading American sacramental theologian over the past five decades.

Dr. Cooke received his A.B. and M.A. degrees from St. Louis University, an S.T.Lic. from St. Mary’s College, Kansas, and an S.T.D. from the Institute catholique de Paris, as well as honorary doctoral degrees from the University of Detroit and Marquette University.

He served as Chairman and a Professor in the Department of Theology at Marquette University, where in 1963 he inaugurated the first PhD program in the nation to train Catholic laypeople for careers in theological scholarship and teaching. He went on to hold faculty positions at the University of Windsor and the University of Calgary in Canada, and in the U.S. at the College of the Holy Cross, where he retired as Loyola Professor of Theology in 1990. A tireless and inspiring teacher, Dr. Cooke also held visiting professorships at Santa Clara University, Loyola University in New Orleans, the University of the Incarnate word, and the University of San Diego.

Dr. Cook’s leadership in the American theological academy included his presidency of both the College Theology Society and the Catholic Theological Society of America, who also honored him with the John Courtney Murray Award for distinguished achievement in theology. In addition to honorary doctorates, other awards included a research fellowship at Yale Divinity School, from which he produced his landmark volume, Ministry to Word and Sacraments, and a Woodrow Wilson Fellowship, from which followed another of his scholarly works, The Distancing of God. Others of his most widely read books include Christian Sacraments and Christian Personality, Sacraments and Sacramentality, God’s Beloved: Jesus’ Experience of the Transcendent, The Future of the Eucharist, and Power and the Spirit of God. The final words of his last book proclaim, Let the risen Christ shine through you. For those so blessed, every breath is a sacrament.

He is survived by his wife, Dr. Pauline Turner and daughter, Kelly Turner-Cooke; brothers, David Cooke (wife, Leann) of Elk Grove, Calif. and Tom Cooke (wife, Margaret) of Oakland, Calif. as well as many nieces and nephews.

His brothers, Paul and Arnold preceded him in death.

Dr. Cooke’s life was celebrated in a wake service, Monday, June 10 at 7 p.m. in the Assembly Room of the Village at Incarnate Word, 4707 Broadway, San Antonio, TX 78209, phone 210-829-7561. A Memorial Mass was celebrated by Fr. Jake Empereur, S.J., Tuesday, June 11, at 10 a.m., Chapel of the Incarnate Word at the Motherhouse, 4503 Broadway. In lieu of flowers, people are invited to support the Bernard J. Cooke Memorial Fund, 150 Katherine Court, San Antonio, TX 78209.


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