Terence J. Cooke (1921-1983) was born in New York and became a priest of the Archdiocese of New York. He worked in parishes, Catholic Charities and the seminary and also taught social work at Fordham University. At the death of Cardinal Francis J. Spellman, his predecessor, he was an auxiliary bishop of New York. He chose as his episcopal motto the phrase from the Lord's Prayer, "Thy Will Be Done," which must have served him well as he faced leukemia later in life. As archbishop of New York from 1968 until his death, he quietly battled the disease, never complaining of the difficult treatments he had to endure.
On the day of his installation as archbishop, Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. Cooke immediately went to Harlem to plead for racial peace and later attended King's funeral.
During his tenure, Cooke founded Birthright, which offers women alternatives to abortion; a housing program to help the disadvantaged, and Courage, a ministry that promotes chastity and support for those who experience same-sex attraction.
In an open letter completed days before his death, he wrote, "The gift of life, God's special gift, is no less beautiful when it is accompanied by illness or weakness, hunger or poverty, mental or physical handicaps, loneliness or old age."