September 18, 2019
[Silver Spring, MD] With so many others – nationally and globally – the Leadership Conference of Women Religious grieves the death of journalist Cokie Roberts. We stand as witnesses to what has been reported worldwide about her professional expertise, as well as her unfailing kindness and generosity. Our organization, as well as many of the women religious we represent, has deeply appreciated all that she brought to the world she served.
Cokie was educated by the Religious of the Sacred Heart in their Bethesda, Maryland high school and was deeply influenced by the spirit and dedication of these women. It was the start of life-long friendships with women religious and an intense interest in the history of Catholic sisters since their arrival in the early 1700s to the United States via New Orleans, Cokie’s birthplace. When LCWR produced the documentary, Women & Spirit: Catholic Sisters in America, Cokie was clearly the person we believed could best serve as the film’s narrator. Cokie immediately and enthusiastically agreed to the task. When she had to postpone by a day the narrative taping session in Washington, DC to fly to California to deliver the eulogy at the funeral of Betty Ford, a promise she had made to the former first lady years earlier, we saw firsthand how Cokie was able to balance the many relationships, connections, and responsibilities she cherished. That capacity to treat each person and each commitment with equal respect and reverence is among the qualities that defined her extraordinary presence.
Cokie’s remarkable upbringing in a family steeped in politics and strong Catholic values clearly shaped her own dedication to creating a more just and moral world for all. We were moved, nonetheless, when she also credited the Catholic sisters in her life for inspiring her faith and dedication. In 2009, Cokie addressed the assembly of our organization, and said in part, “The official numbers of women religious in this country might have fallen--but it’s safe to say that the number of religious women who are acting on their faith to serve society is higher than ever before in human history. Those of us who feel that calling feel it because of you.”
Clearly, Cokie was one who felt that calling and acted on it throughout her whole life. Her dedication to creating a better world for all made her a true sister to our organization and to women religious throughout the country. Earlier in 2019, Cokie was interviewed by LCWR for its journal, Occasional Papers, and was asked this question: What are some of the great questions of our time that capture your imagination, that stretch your thinking? Her response, in part, was: “Man’s inhumanity to man remains one of the greatest challenges. I very firmly believe that every human is made in the image and likeness of God and believe that we have to operate on that principle both in our personal relationships and in public policy. Anytime we might be thinking that we are getting beyond inhumane behavior, new disasters rise up – like what we are seeing in the Middle East, Africa, and right on our own border. Man’s inhumanity to man remains a constant source of inquiry. How does it happen?”
Her life-long pursuit of this question remains a deep source of inspiration to us. We are grateful for Cokie’s many decades of exploring and probing how we can make the world a more just and moral setting for all people. Her tireless work as a reporter, commentator, analyst, columnist, speaker, and book author kept the most important questions facing humanity in our consciousness. The authenticity and integrity of her work will be appreciated for years to come.
Sister Annmarie Sanders, IHM | Communications Director
Leadership Conference of Women Religious
8747 Cameron Street, Suite 610 | Silver Spring, MD 20910
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