Depending on Christ’s sacred and compassionate heart and advocating for justice: these are the two things that come to mind when you think of Sister Kathleen Joy Cooper A.C.J. “Sister Kayjoy” as so many knew her, entered in the merciful arms of Christ on June 18th 2022 in hospice care. Her life is nothing short of a series of large miracles and an inspiration of God’s merciful heart.

As an only child her loving parents supported her call to religious life as a Handmaid of the Sacred Heart upon graduation from Ancillae Domini High School where she first was introduced to the charism of Saint Raphaela Mary and the gift of Ignatian spiritualty. Her life would unfold as a true testimony to the graces of Gods’ goodness, serving as a counselor, spiritual director, teacher, pastoral minister, and director of formation for young Handmaids in studies.

Thousands of individuals over the years have benefitted from Sister Kayjoy’s words of insight and hope at the Saint Raphaela Center. Whether leading a day of reflection, offering good counsel, or accompanying someone on retreat; Sister Kathleen Joy Cooper, acj’s spirit blessed the halls and rooms of our retreat house.

The last twenty or so years Sister Kayjoy was a special inspiration to many of as she dealt with more health challenges than any one soul could seem to bare. But our Sister Kayjoy embraced a closeness with the Heart of Christ in her vulnerability and lived with the challenges never letting them hold back her ministry and constant advocacy of justice for those marginalized or underrepresented. An inspiration for the organ transplant community, passionate about immigration and economic justice; Sister is and inspiration to all of us on how to live life to the fullest even in the midst of great personal vulnerability.
Saint Theresa of Lisieux once said, “When I die, I will send down a shower of roses from the heavens, I will spend my heaven by doing good on earth.” May the roses and other flowers blooming at the Saint Raphaela Center be a sign of the continued blessed good work of Sister Kathleen Joy Cooper A.C.J. teaching us to depend on Christ’s sacred and compassionate heart as we, like Kayjoy, advocate for God’s justice.
We rejoice in the gift of her life and ask you to keep Sister Kayjoy, her family, and all the Handmaids in your prayers.

Fr. Dan Joyce, SJ
Vice President of Mission and Ministry at Saint Joseph’s University