Fr John Cotter RIP: A friend and faithful priest.
On Friday week last I received a text from a priest friend of mine, telling me that my dear friend Fr John Cotter had died. Even though I knew that his passing from life on this earth was imminent, I was naturally saddened at his passing. Fr John and I were in school together. He was ordained a Priest in 1963, a year after me.
Fr John began his priestly ministry in the Diocese of Savannah Georgia in America. After years he returned to the Diocese of Cork and Ross and worked in a number of parishes. He worked as a curate in Passage West from 1972 to 1981 and was Parish Priest of Monkstown from 1998 to 2005. Still today in the Harbour Parishes, his is a household name. You need only mention his name and the reaction you get is a very warm one. The people of the Harbour Parishes appreciated a priest who worked well and kindly among them. There was praise this past week for a priest with a human face, a man with the common touch. Words like kindness, understanding, big heart, especially with those who were old or sick or feeling the pressures of life, were synonymous with Fr Cotter.
He always had time for people and had a tremendous interest and zest and enthusiasm for people. Someone once said that said that the world belongs to those who love people. If you do not love people don’t bother preaching to them. We all preach by the lives we live. Fr Cotter was a faithful priest and it is no small achievement in society today. Mother Theresa once said “God called us to be faithful, He did not call us to be successful”. Everybody who knew Fr John will have his or her own personal story of encounters with him. He always had a deep interest in so many people, an interest that was certainly not gossip, not power, not curiosity, not in any way threatening or overpowering. It was part of his gift as a priest of Christ. There was a wonderful air of gentleness and humility about him. The night prayer of the Breviary which priests and religious and many lay people pray and which was part of Fr John’s daily prayer all his life, says; “Save us Lord while we are awake, protect us while we sleep, that we may keep watch with Christ and rest with Him in peace”. With hearts filled with gratitude and love we thank the Lord for Fr John and pray that he may have a quiet night and peaceful rest until we meet again in God’s kingdom. Fr John