Rev. Cooney, former Gaylord bishop, dies at 78


GAYLORD, Mich. (AP) -- The Rev. Patrick R. Cooney, who served as bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Gaylord for about 20 years, has died. He was 78.

The diocese that serves Michigan's Lower Peninsula said Cooney died Monday at a hospital in suburban Detroit following a long illness.

Bishop Bernard A. Hebda said in statement that Cooney was a "great servant of the church and a true father to the clergy, religious and faithful of the Diocese of Gaylord."

Cooney stepped down in 2009 as bishop of the diocese that comprises 21 counties after reaching the retirement age of 75. He entered the priesthood more than five decades ago.

Earlier this month, the Diocesan Conference Center was renamed the "Cooney Conference Center" in his honor.