Dorothea Cooper was born on February 12 1928 at Tumby Bay, the daughter of William and Eileen Cooper. She remembers with much affection her early years when, with her six siblings, she relished life as part of a large country family. It was in this environment, and with the example of her parents, that Dorothea’s faith was nourished.
After several years as a boarder at Cabra Dominican College, Cumberland Park, she entered the Dominican community there and was given the name of Philomena. She made her first profession on February 1 1947.
After several years as a teacher, Sr Philomena joined a group of Dominican Sisters from around Australia to establish a ministry in the Solomon Islands. She remained there for 18 years, a period that Philomena described as “the time of her life”. She came to love dearly the people of the Solomons and committed herself to their welfare with her hallmark energy and faith.
On her return to Adelaide Sr Philomena spent the next phase of her Dominican life as a parish associate, a role she enjoyed and from which she gained much.
In a reflection given some years ago at a Eucharist to mark the feast of St Dominic, Sr Philomena remarked that she has “…cherished with great love and a sense of enormous privilege the call to religious life in the family of Dominic”.
“It is a source of great joy,” she said.
Sr Bernadette Kiley OP, leader of the Holy Cross Congregation of Dominican Sisters, said Philomena’s anniversary was an opportunity for her to know again both the sense of privilege and the joy that have marked her Dominican life.
“For her Dominican Sisters who gathered for the dual celebration, it was an opportunity to acknowledge the many ways in which she has enriched their lives and to give thanks for her gracious presence among them,” she said.
Sr Philomena’s sister, Teresa Cooper, joined the Sisters of St Joseph in her late 20s. She turned 101 on December 30 and will celebrate her 70th year of religious profession on March 19, the feast of St Joseph.Jump to next article