Fr. Daniel Cooper, who reposed in the Lord on May 1, 2018 (Feast of St. Joseph the Worker), was laid to rest on Tuesday, May 8 at Mt. Olivet Catholic Cemetery in Dickinson, TX.
Prior to succumbing to cancer, Fr. Cooper faithfully served the U.S. District for many years. A man regarded for his kindness and dedication to the priesthood, it should come as little surprise that Fr. Cooper fought his cancer with patience, acceptance, and a joyful spirit.
A Solemn Day
Prior to Tuesday’s funeral Mass at Queen of Angels Catholic Church in Dickinson, a public Rosary was held for Fr. Cooper’s soul with the faithful filling the building. The Rosary was followed by all-night prayers.
When the time came to serve the solemn Requiem Mass for Fr. Cooper, over 20 priests were present in addition to the larger gathering of laity, all of whom could not fit into the church building. U.S. District Superior, Fr. Wegner, served the Mass with Fr. Kurtz acting as deacon and Fr. Haenny as subdeacon. Some of the priests in attendance sang in the schola while the rest joined the faithful in assisting at Mass and asking Our Lord to quickly usher Fr. Cooper’s soul to Heaven.
The choice to be buried at Mt. Olivet Cemetery was Fr. Cooper’s. Due to his many years of priestly service in Dickinson, he requested to be buried near the parish where he regularly said Mass, heard innumerable confessions, and served other sacraments according to the traditional Roman Rite for the salvation of souls.
Reflecting on the Life of Fr. Cooper
In his sermon that day, Fr. Wegner called attention to the fact that Fr. Cooper has been ordained, worked, suffered, and reposed all within the Society of Saint Pius X (SSPX). He had served the SSPX as a priest for 31 years. While at the time of his ordination, many held to the hope that the crisis in the Church would be over after a few years, it is now clear that crisis is bigger than the lives of the Society’s priests. How long will the crisis last? And, just as important, will the SSPX continue to have the spiritual and physical resources to combat it?
The SSPX, as Fr. Wegner went on to note, is no longer a “young fraternity.” In the half-a-century since its inception, the Society has experienced setbacks, buried its members, realized its limitations, but ultimately matured. A new generation of young, vibrant priests are now filling the SSPX’s ranks, though they are dependent on the example of veteran clergy like Fr. Cooper whose years of service brought with it invaluable lessons. It is to be hoped that once the older generation of Society priests has gone to their final reward, the next “wave” of Society clergy will have the tools to carry on the holy work started decades ago by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre.
In concluding his sermon, Fr. Wegner spoke of the need for the SSPX’s priests like Fr. Cooper. That is, the Society needs priests who love the priesthood itself and are faithful to their vocation while always remaining humble and meek. It is priests made in the mold of Fr. Cooper who will keep the SSPX healthy and vibrant in the coming decades, and, in God’s good time, see the faithful through the ongoing crisis in the Church.
Following the funeral, burial, and reception, Fr. Cooper’s brother thanked Fr. Kurtz for the beautiful ceremony and for the care given to Fr. Cooper by the faithful in Dickinson. The clergy in attendance then made their way back to their priories, no doubt edified by the outpouring of love and prayer for Fr. Cooper they had just witnessed. And the faithful themselves, who also came from all over the United States to pray their respects, can now carry with them a solemn memory of just how important our priests are for the future of the Catholic Church and the cessation of the crisis.