Roman Catholics across northern Michigan are mourning the death of Bishop Patrick R. Cooney, who died Oct. 15 in the Detroit area, where he had moved after retiring in 2009 to be near family.
The 78-year-old Cooney, who was remembered as a man of deep faith with a down-to-earth style, headed the 21-county region that is the Diocese of Gaylord for nearly two decades.
He died at Beaumont Hospice in Royal Oak.
Bishop Bernard A. Hebda, who succeeded Cooney, said Cooney had a strong link to the people of the diocese.
"He had a wonderful Irish wit and was so willing to talk to people and really listen to people," Hebda said. "I'm always amazed as I go throughout the diocese at the people who say, 'Please say hi to Bishop Patrick, he'll know who we are for sure.' And he always did, whether it be a waitress in a restaurant or a security guard in a hospital. He took time for everyone."
Failing health prevented him from being in Gaylord Oct. 6 when the Diocesan Conference Center was rededicated and renamed the "Cooney Conference Center" in his honor. Cooney relocated the chancery offices adjacent to St. Mary Cathedral so they could stand together as the center of the diocese. The center was built in 2000 under his direction.
A new chapel at Traverse City's St. Francis High School was dedicated in Cooney's honor.
Visitation at St. Mary Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Cathedral in Gaylord will continue at 9 a.m. Monday until the funeral Mass at noon. A luncheon will follow.