Sister Marie Elizabeth Cooke, who died on April 4, was buried on April 9 in the cemetery at Saint Joseph Villa, following the Mass of Christian Burial celebrated by Reverend Anthony Hangholt.
Sister Marie was the eldest daughter of George and Mary Cooke; later, three more daughters, Joan, Helen and Carol were born to complete the family. Mary was born in Camden, NJ, but her family later moved to Philadelphia, where she and her sisters grew up.
Marie went to Hallahan High School, where she was a member of the orchestra. She believed that her association with the Sisters of Saint Joseph, especially her music teacher, Sister Giovanni, inspired her to consider religious life. A couple of years after her graduation from Hallahan, she entered the Sisters of Saint Joseph; in late April of 1951, she was received into the congregation as Sister George Miriam.
Sister began her educational ministry in elementary education, teaching not only basic academic skills, but also giving music lessons after school. Later she moved to the secondary level to share her gift of math. She claimed her gift in these words, “I truly loved that I had the ability to help students learn.”
She taught at a number of high schools in the area, including Cardinal O’Hara, Cardinal Dougherty, Archbishop Prendergast, and St. Hubert in Philadelphia and Roselle Catholic in New Jersey. Along the way she earned a Master’s Degree in Math from Marquette University. Following her career in the classroom, Marie served in the Registrar’s Office at Chestnut Hill College, in the Studies Office at St. Hubert High School and the Finance Office at Saint Joseph Villa.
In her living history, Marie wrote that her prayer was, “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.” Her relationship with God, suggested by this prayer, filled her heart and her life. She seems to have accepted her gifts humbly and lived her life, generously using her gifts for others, until her restless heart went home to God. Among Marie’s many and most loved gifts was the gift of her family, sisters, Helen, Carol and Joan and their families. She spoke of them often and loved being with them.
Today we celebrate the life and gifts of Sister Marie Cooke. We are grateful for her gifts, for her presence among us for sixty- eight years, “living and working so that all people may be united with God and with one another”. We rejoice that she is embraced eternally by the God she loved and ask that she pray for us.