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Longtime Metro Detroit priest dies after COVID-19 diagnosis

The Detroit News

A longtime Metro Detroit priest who was recently diagnosed with COVID-19 died on Thursday.

The Rev. Michael Cooney

The Rev. Michael Cooney, who was pastor of St. Peter Catholic Church in Mount Clemens for 30 years, died peacefully in his sleep, the church announced Friday on its website. He was 72.

While his cause of death is not yet known, Cooney had been in fragile health and was recently diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the Archdiocese of Detroit.

Detroit Archbishop Allen Vigneron, a seminary classmate of Cooney, and Bishop Robert Fisher offered condolences to church parishioners and St. Mary Catholic School families in a letter Friday.

"Father Mike was known around Mt. Clemens and beyond as a 'down-to-earth' pastor who was proud of his Irish heritage. Among his brother priests, he encouraged a great love for the priesthood as a brotherhood in service of Christ," the letter said.

Cooney was looking forward to retirement but only because his health had been declining in recent years, the letter said. "Had his body allowed, he would have happily served for and with you for many years to come." 

Cooney was born March 10, 1948, in Detroit, and he was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Detroit in 1975.

In addition to serving as pastor of St. Peter Parish, Cooney served as parochial vicar of St. Suzanne/Our Lady Gate of Heaven Parish, Detroit; St. Malachy Parish, Sterling Heights; St. Basil the Great Parish, Eastpointe; and the National Shrine of the Little Flower Basilica Parish, Royal Oak.

Visitation is 1 to 6 p.m. Thursday at St. Peter Catholic Church, 95 Market St., Mount Clemens. He will lie in repose at St. Peter Church from 10 a.m. Friday until the celebration of his funeral Mass at 11 a.m. Due to the large crowd expected, the funeral Mass will be livestreamed. 

Interment is 11 a.m. Dec. 5 at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery, 25800 W. 10 Mile, Southfield.

Cooney was preceded in death by his parents, Michael and Elizabeth Cooney; his brother, Bishop Patrick Cooney; and his sister, Mary Cooney. He is survived by his sister, Sister Leontia Cooney, a retired Adrian Dominican.