Biographies

Sister Mary de Paul Cogan, MM

Born: October 8, 1891
Entered: July 27, 1921
Died: November 17, 1953

As you know, Sister Mary de Paul finished her course Tuesday afternoon, November 17. I and my nurses came home Wednesday morning. I had hoped to be with Sister at the end, but she needed none of us, thank God, and I am very happy that her last moments were undisturbed as she went from our hearts to the loving, welcoming Heart of Christ. Mother Mary Columba, knowing how close to me Sister Mary de Paul was, has given me the privilege of writing for her to you all. I am grateful to her.

I revered Sister de Paul greatly because of her sterling character. I loved her as an understanding, trusted friend, with winsome ways, and I shall be eternally grateful to her for her unflagging support and intelligent cooperation in many of our early struggles.

On each of us, no matter where we worked, Sister de Paul has had some influence. She carried aloft always the banner of our Maryknoll Sisters’ ideals and lived accordingly. Maryknoll was her life, her love. She was utterly selfless. She never sought position or opportunity or praise that would bring her satisfaction.

As a Maryknoll Sister, she was docile, happy, generous, faithful to her exercises, content in her assigned work, and ever ready to help others in manual work as well as in studies.

She was highly educated and a born teacher. Monsignor Pace of Catholic University said once she was the most brilliant woman he had met in the United States. She had much to give – and she poured it out generously. She expected of her pupils – honesty, simplicity, humility, integrity, open minds and docile hearts. Her abilities and our Sisters imbued with such qualities formed our Maryknoll students and were the foundation of our Teachers College. She knew what capabilities teachers needed – she visioned what the missions would require of teachers and with her excellent corps assistants, put her all into the development of the teacher training school which, when she finished as dean – already enjoyed an enviable reputation.

As Regional Superior in Hawaii she showed those qualities which made her loved as a home maker, a just and genial disciplinarian, and a superb organizer and administrator. She loved and appreciated the Sisters, knew their strength and weaknesses. I wish I could cite some of the beautiful tributes our Sisters sent me when Sister Mary de Paul had to leave the Islands.

Of course, no one of us is perfect and Sister had her occasional failings and, like the rest of us, she had those who did not appreciate her or her accomplishments.

The educational authorities in Albany – and the priests who worked with her on the missions held her in high esteem and felt privileged to work with her.

Now Sister is gone from us but her bright happy ways, her cheer and humor, her lovely example of religious and family living still, and let us hope and pray, always will hover in the atmosphere of every Maryknoll house that has known her dear presence. May she be eternally happy with God and, with the rest of our Maryknollers in heaven, another advocate for us.

The funeral was as beautiful as all Maryknoll funerals are. Dear Father Cotta was at his best and Father Considine in his eulogy showed an extraordinary understanding of Sister de Paul’s accomplishments and her most lovely spirit.

The Cogan family accepted their sacrifice with the faith and joyousness that one looks for in a truly Catholic family such as theirs. Agnes was noble and stood up to the very end. Father Cogan with the family about him, said Mass in my room, a great privilege for us all.

Her grave is lovely today with the flowers still fresh and a most lovely bowl of Birds of Paradise brilliant and glowing in the midst of our delicate colored chrysanthemums. These exquisite Pacific blossoms were the tribute of Father Kiernan to Sister de Paul’s memory.