The Military Vicariate

For fifteen years Terence Cardinal Cooke served as Military Vicar of the United Sates.  Over two million members of our country's military personnel were under his care.

As shepherd to those in the armed services, Cardinal Cooke visited the far corners of the world.   Despite public criticism at home, he journeyed to Vietnam to be with the troops on Christmas 1968.  Knowing that his flock in New York was well served by his priests and auxiliary bishops Cardinal Cooke felt he was called to be a true father to the young men and women who were far from home, facing danger in the service of their country.  Throughout the rest of his life he never wavered in this conviction.  Despite failing health,  he spent Christmas 1982 with American troops in war-torn Beirut, Lebanon.

Less than a month before his death October 6, 1983, Cardinal Cooke asked that a message from him be delivered to the Military Chaplains' meeting in San Antonio, Texas.  It read, in part . . . "Many people do not know, as I have come to know, the special sacrifice you make in bringing the love of Jesus into the lives of so many who reach out to you for help.  Sometimes your flock is small and far from home, very young and confused by dramatically changed circumstances which the cause of peace demands of them.  For these, your title of Father, assumes a very special significance, a significance not always appreciated in other priestly apostolates."  In closing . . . "I rejoice that through, with and of the Eucharistic Christ I am able to serve God's People in the Military Vicariate in sickness as I have in health.  I offer my suffering and my prayers for you and for all whom you serve so faithfully."

On April 5, 1984 Cardinal Cooke was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by  Ronald Reagan: "A saintly man a great spiritual leader, Terence Cardinal Cooke inspired his countrymen with his dedication to his Church, devotion to his flock, and service to his country.  As the Military Vicar to our Nation's Armed Forces, Cardinal Cooke worked tirelessly on behalf of those who serve their country in uniform.  As a patriot and national leader, he preached the love of country and championed the cause of human freedom.  He will live in the memory of his countrymen as a man of compassion, courage, and personal holiness."









Cardinal Cooke Guild   ◦  1011 First Avenue  ◦  New York, NY 10022  ◦   phone: 212.371.1000 x2747  ◦  email:

contact us   |   home   |   biography   |   the cause   |  the guild   |   military vicar   |   resources |   upcoming events