Father Cooney was a priest in the true sense of the word. I never met a clergyman who had a nicer sense of ecclesiastical authority. I don't believe that in seven years - near seven years that I am now in this city with you - he ever absented himself a single night from his parish without having previously come to me and reported the matter. He never wished to be away from his parish. His whole heart was here and it was only because I assured him that his life would be prolonged, in all probability, for the edification and salvation of many and for the greater glory of God, that he consented to take the last voyage which he made to Europe. I had the pleasure of being with him as far as Cork. There I parted with him. He enjoyed good health during the journey. It was his intention to visit the holy places; to kiss the ground on which the Saviour of the world had walked; to enter the garden of Olives and there pray to the Saviour of mankind on the spot in which he sweat great drops of blood; to sit and meditate where the Son of Man was crucified. But at that season of the year it was impossible to make that journey. He contented himself with going as far as Naples, and I met him myself in Rome, which city he was preparing to leave as I entered it. He was then after receiving from the Supreme Pontiff
A Blessing for his Labors
and a blessing which he asked - the richest blessing of all - a blessing for the flock that was committed to his charge. Oh my beloved brethren, if you had spoken to him just then as he had come away from the Holy Father, if you had heard him say as he said to me: how he had received this blessing, with what joy would you see him impart the news while his heart beat with the prospect of again meeting you here; the attachment to him perhaps could not be greater than it is, but certainly it would not be less. He got the great privilege to impart to you the Papal Benediction, but this he was unable to confer because of his sickness.
Father Cooney was a true priest of God. No person need point him out to you as a clergyman. I had an example of that when I was in Cork. We were staying in the same hotel. He went out one day to take a walk, to wander along the banks of the Lee, to hear alone by himself the sweet music of
The Bells of Shandon
and view the beautiful hills of his native country. But he returned shortly after and said, "It is impossible for me to go; everybody knows me; they're all putting their hands to their hats; I am a stranger here, and I don't want to be distinguished above others." It was no use; he carried the priest around with him wherever he went.
He recognized God as the one who called him to the sacred ministry, as the one who had chosen him; not that he chose God; he acknowledged always with becoming submission to the Divine will, that he was called by God. He looked upon himself, in certain measure, as an ambassador from on High. Ite, docete, go, teach, he recognized as words addressed to himself. I appeal to you, my brethren, if he was ever slow to preach and teach the doctrine of Jesus Christ; if he did not try to bring you all to a stronger faith, to a more practical Christian life. As an ambassador, he was sent to bring souls into the Church, and I suppose he must have baptized and covered with the robe of baptismal innocence more than five thousand souls in this parish. He was sent to bless your marriages. How many have been married in his presence! How many couples has he not blessed! He has been with you in your sickness.
Rich and Poor Made No Difference to Him.
He made no distinction whatsoever. He regarded but the souls of the faithful that had been committed to him. He copied after St. Augustine, and though he may not have had the faith of that great and holy man, he aimed at it. He sought to rid of all abuse the limit of the parish placed under his jurisdiction, as another Borromeo. He was kind and gentle, and suave in his manners to everybody who approached him, seeking by kindness to bring souls to God, taking as his model St. Francis de Sales. And, oh, with what zeal he went through the highways and byways! With what care he picked up those stray waifs scarcely distinguished from the mud in which they were rolling around, and washed them and took them to the kind Sisters to be educated, like another St. Vincent de Paul.
Beloved brethren, I have in his death, sustained a serous loss. As you loved him as a father, I loved him as a brother, as a sincere friend, as an uncompromising priest, as one who always appreciated everything that had relation to religion.
But He is Dead!
And this will be said of us all here, priest and people. Some day or another the announcement will be made "he is dead". Some day or another the sable carriage will come around for us, and all that is mortal will then be carried to the grave and hidden in the ground. But his sprit still liveth and will be carried, I trust, by angels up on high. He is dead. All that is mortal is but transitory. Life is short indeed, no matter how many years man may number. Life is short. It passes like a cloud, like a shadow over the wall, passes faster than a dream, faster than a train; down the current of life we are driving along, now hurt by obstructing rocks, but still moving onward until we are
Lost in the Ocean of Time.
My beloved brethren, we will all die. Hence the necessity of preparing ourselves properly for that dread moment, since it is inevitable that death will come upon us at last. O let us not put off to the last the preparation so necessary... And the priest above all, is more responsible and has a stricter judgment to pass, and he must lead a proper and better life than those whom he is guiding, because in the pinnacle of high heaven on some day I and the priests around me, and all those living on earth will have to account strictly for the flocks committed to our charge.
Let Us Remember Him
It is difficult to be so pure as to pass from this world immediately into the presence of the glory of God. Thus, my beloved brethren, it behooves us in this case, to be pious towards the dead. I need not ask you to be pious in praying for the repose of the soul of your dearly beloved Pastor. I am sure you have remembered him since you heard the mournful news, and, I am sure you will still remember him. You ought to remember him because of the many years he has labored among you, of the many cares he has taken from your hearts, of the many tears he has dried up and of the consolation he has given you. He has been so kind and indefatigable in his labors amongst you that it would be worse that ingratitude to forget him. May his memory ever be in your souls. He will not forget you. He is gone from your midst here, but standing at the portals of heavens gate, he will yet welcome you as you pass from this world to another. O may the souls that he has been the instrument of saving welcome him into the heavenly kingdom! As there is a communion between you and him, a communion between the faithful here on earth and the happy souls predestined of God to eternal life, pray then for him. Remember him, because he has been indeed a kind father to you. Teach your little ones to lisp his name. Look around and you will see monuments that he has built up that will never fade.
There is nothing so pleasing as gratitude, and if he could rise up from the casket in which his remains now rest he would ask you to be grateful to his memory. What gratitude can you show him that will be most pleasing to him? It will be that of remembering his instructions and putting in practice the Christian life of which he has given you an example; it will be that of remembering what he has been saying to you for many and many a year. That you may grow in the faith, that you may increase in piety, that you may live holily, justly and piously; and that you and he, when a few years are over, may meet together in the kingdom of Gods glory.
After the sermon, the final absolution was pronounced by the Rt. Rev. Bishop; concluding the religious services at the church.
The following is a full list of the clergymen present:
Rt. Rev. T.F. Hendricken, Bishop of Providence; Very Rev. L.S. McMahon, D.D., Vicar General, New Bedford, Mass.;Rev. Farrell OReilly, Rev. P.P. Carlin, Rev. W. Stang and Rev. A.P. Gaboury, Cathedral; Very Rev. J. Bapst, S.J., St. Josephs; Rev. C. Hughes and Rev. J. Harty, St. Patricks; Rev. J. Murphy, St. Marys; Rev. J.J. McCabe and Rev. J.C. Walsh, St. Johns; Rev. Dr. M.A. Wallace and Rev. J.K. Beaven, St. Micheals; Rev. M.M. Clune, Assumption; Rev. J.A. Finnegan, St. Edwards; Rev. Philip Grace, D.D., Newport; Rev. P.F. Doyle, Rev. James Smith and Rev. C. Dauray, Woonsocket; Rev. W.J. McComb, Cranston; Rev. T. Berkens, Rev. P.G. Delaney, Rev. F. Tuite and Rev. H.F. Kinnerney, Pawtucket; Rev. M. Fitzgerald, Central Falls; Rev. Wm. Pyne, Ashton; Rev. Wm. Halligan and Rev. James Daly, East Greenwich; Rev. J.V. Brennan, East Providence; Rev. C.J. Rogers, Bristol; Rev. M. McCallion, Warren; Rev. J.A. Couch, Phenix; Rev. D. Driscoll, Valley Falls; Rev. N. Rivers, Natick; Rev. W.H. Bric, Rev. James OSullvan, Rev. John OConnell, Rev. J.E. Gormley, Rev. John Kelly, Rev. James Masterson and Rev. T.F. Briscoe, Fall River, Mass.; Rev. E.J. Sheridan, Rev. H.J. Smythe, Taunton; Rev. Edward Mongan and Rev. Owen Kiernan, North Attleboro; Rev. T.F. Carroll, North Easton; Rev. E.E. Norbet, Somerset; Rev. Andrew J. Brady, Sandwich; Rev. A.J. Ciampi, Georgetown, D.C.; Rev. Edward J. OBrien, Norwalk, Conn.; Very Rev. James Hughes, Rev. M. Tierney, Hartford, Conn.; Rev. Lawrence Walsh, Waterbury, Conn.; Rev. M.T. Kelly, Windsor Locks, Conn.; Rev. A.J. Teeling, Newburyport; Rev. J.J. Gray, Salem; Rev. M.J. Masterson, Peabody, Mass.
The Floral Offerings,
arranged by the Sisters of Charity, were numerous and beautiful. A magnificent crown was given by the Children of Mary; a pillow and cross by the children of the Academy of the Immaculate Conception; a cross and wreath by the children of the parish schools, a floral round, with the inscription "Dear Father", by the members of the choir; a cross with the inscription "Oriental Mill" by the employees of the Oriental Mill; a magnificent wreath, with the inscription "My Uncle" by Councilman John P. Cooney; a floral sickle, by Mr. John E. Fitzgerald (Earles Lane). These tokens of gratitude and affection, emblems of the esteem and veneration in which the deceased was held, were displayed upon the catafalque in the church.
Every arrangement was made for the order and convenience of the vast congregation, ushers being in attendance to preserve order and keep a passage open in the chapel for the clergy, others being stationed at the doors to direct the people as they entered and to prevent confusion. The following gentlemen acted as ushers: James H. McGann, E. A. Moran, M. F. Munigle, P. Kenney, John Meehan, P. J. Kilkenney, George Howe, Thomas Kilkenney. The door committee was composed of the following gentlemen: Hugh Bannon, Wm. Duffy, John Rooney, Wm. Canning, Andrew McQueeney, John Kehoe, Bernard McCulla, John F. McLoughlin, James Kelly and John Gilbane.
was very good and impressive, the solos being very finely sustained and the choruses well rendered. The choir of the church was assisted by singers from other churches, about 30 voices in all, under the direction of Prof. Eugene Henri, of the Cathedral. Miss Conboy presided at the organ. The mass rendered was the Gregorian chant, the most impressive of all music. "Rest, Spirit, Rest", solo and chorus, was given at the Offertory, the solo being maintained by Mrs. Pidge. After the Elevation, the dulcit, "Jesu, Miserere,was sung by Mrs. E. Henri and Mr. F. Fox. After the Agnus Dei, the Libera was rendered by Prof. E. Henri and Prof. Hammerel. After the Absolution, "Angels Ever Bright and Fair" was sung by Mrs. Gillian of Pawtucket.
The Funeral Procession.
When the solemn services were ended, the vast congregation passed around the catafalque to take a last look at the deceased. When all had viewed, the casket was removed to the hearse and....(remainder of sentence illegible)...
The Pall Bearers.
Very Rev. L.S. McMahon; Very Rev. J. Bapst, S.J.; Rev. Dr. M.A. Wallace; Rev. M. McCabe; Rev. P. G. Delany; (name not legible...)
Immediate Relatives of the deceased
The Children of Mary
The member of the Congregation.....in carriages and on foot
At the Grave,
the last services were held. Every head was uncovered and the large assemblage of sorrowing priests and people took a final farewell of him whom they had so solemnly and sorrowingly borne to the tomb. The Rev. clergy chanted the "Benedictus", the casket was lowered into the grave and all present turned away with a heavy heart, regretting the death of the honored priest but feeling that their own loss was his gain.
On Last Sunday
a large congregation was present at each of the masses. The church was still clothed in mourning and a feeling of sorrow was upon all present, many even being in tears. At 7 oclock mass, Rev. Father Deady paid an eloquent tribute to the deceased which moved his hearers to tears. Rev. Father Grace officiated at 9 oclock mass and also at high mass at half-past ten; at both services he preached an eloquent sermon in reference to the death of the beloved pastor. At the high mass the service was probably the most affecting of all. It was at that mass, but only two weeks before, that Father Cooney had last addressed his congregation on a subject to which he had given great attention - the education of their children in Catholic schools, and to many the earnest words of the deceased priest seemed ringing in their ears. As Father Greeley feelingly and eloquently referred to Father Cooneys death nearly all were in tears, and when, at the end of the sermon, the congregation knelt in prayer for the repose of his soul, the silence was unbroken, except by the low sobs of many whose feelings could not be controlled.