March 11, 1941 – November 17, 2023
“Be still and know that I am God.” -Psalm 46
On March 11, 1941, in Roseville, Michigan, situated in the northern part of the Detroit Metropolitan area, the last of the five children of Gladys Agatha (Meyers) and Lawrence Henry Cool was born. She was welcomed into the family by her four older brothers and sisters. Mary Margaret was baptized March 23, 1941, at Sacred Heart Church in Roseville, and was known as Marz to her family. Soon the family moved to Grand Rapids where Mary Margaret attended St. Francis Xavier Grade School and Catholic Central High School.
Called to religious life following graduation, Mary Margaret entered the Grand Rapids Dominican Sisters Congregation on September 8, 1959, receiving the name Sister Marguerite at the time of her reception and making her final profession August 15, 1966. So began her life of prayer and study, growing in community and serving the people of God through decades of generous service in ministry.
Sister Marguerite embodied the value of life-long learning receiving a BA in 1968 from Aquinas College where she majored in Sociology and took a dual minor in History and English. Sister Marguerite earned an MA in Religious Studies at the Aquinas Institute of Religious Studies, a program of Aquinas College. An MA from Central Michigan University in Administration in Elementary Education was achieved in 1984. Ongoing education by way of workshops, conferences and programs span the gamut from special needs children, anti-racism, multi-culturalism, technology, morality, conflict management. Surely, like the scholar in the Canterbury Tales, it could be said: “Gladly would she learn, and gladly teach.”
A competent and revered teacher of the early grades, Sister Marguerite taught in Catholic parish schools throughout Michigan including Taylor, Bay City, Beal City, Muskegon, Wyoming, and Grand Rapids. At the same time, she served on multiple committees at the parish and congregational level – always contributing her expertise and wisdom to further the education of children and adults alike.
In 1998, the Department of Elementary Schools of the National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA) presented a certificate to Sister Marguerite in recognition of her thirty-four years of outstanding service as a Catholic school educator. In the same year she was nominated for the Diocesan Teacher of the Year Award.
After retiring from classroom teaching, Sister Marguerite together with Sister Jean Kramer founded Partners in Parenting in 1999. This powerful service continued until 2016. Using a modified Winnebago Motorhome, the two seasoned teachers served approximately eight thousand parents and their children who had been referred to them by social service agencies, schools, and the family court system. Through this program the two Sisters assisted parents who needed mentoring in the skills of parenting. Many parents needed guidance in anger and stress management. Others needed advice on how best to help their children struggling with classroom challenges. On site, in their Winnebago Motorhome, Sisters Marguerite and Jean modeled constructive techniques and proven methods of building positive relationships between parents and their children as they traveled to areas where the need for such mentoring was great.
Sister Marguerite possessed that rare combination of creativity and practicality. She had ideas and she could and did bring them into reality. She was a true servant leader who knew how to engage others in teamwork that spelled success.
Sister Marguerite was a consummate Dominican. Her prayer was deep and constant. Her prayer/poems were touching whether it be exaltation for God’s creation or lamentation for the horrors of the 9/11 terrorist attack.
Her life-long practice of study included both the sacred and the secular. It knew no bounds. All was holy – theology, social justice, and peacemaking were interrelated and caught up in the vocation of her own quest for the living God.
She was a community builder in the classroom, and in her local living situation. The children in her classroom were diverse in background and ethnicity, but all took pride in being known as the “Cool Kids” – pun intended. Wherever she lived and worked, she nourished the community.
Sr. Marguerite’s life-long ministry was intricately woven into one word: to love, unconditionally. She loved her family, her Sisters in community, her own classroom students, all students in the school, staff, parents, and administrators – and they knew it. Of her, it was known there was someone always there to share a hug, a tear, a lovely handmade card, a special prayer, a listening ear. Her life was one of service in ministry. Sister Marguerite was in every way a Dominican teacher and preacher.
In a reflection written at the time of her Golden Jubilee, Sister Marguerite wrote: “I have experienced often that Love which is Community – that love which permeates and satisfies itself in CARING FOR and BEING CARED FOR by others – the unselfish concern that freely accepts the other, seeking the good. I continue to pray that the Gift I have received, I can give as Gift.”
And that she did, full measure, flowing over. We who knew and loved her can only respond with gratitude for this life well lived. We are honored and blessed to have been a part of her as she is a part of each of us.
We bless our dear Dominican Sister, friend, teacher, and family member on her final journey to be with her God whom she loved and served so well.
Sr. Marguerite is survived by her sister, Janet (William) Navigato; sister-in-law Delores Cool; nieces, nephews, many friends, and members of her Dominican Community.
Entered eternal life on November 17, 2023 at the age of 82 after 63 years of religious life.
We commend Sister Marguerite to your prayers.
“The purpose of parenting is to protect and teach our children to survive and thrive in the kind of society in which they live.” — Marguerite Cool, OP
Srs. Marguerite and Jean found that the same skills to educate children could also be used by parents to enrich their parenting skills.
“Sister Marguerite Cool, there are no words to express our appreciation to you!! Your discipline, your creativeness and originality, and your continued inspiration to the students is a joy to witness. We especially thank you for your added energy and time.” ~ An Educator
Srs. Marguerite Cool and Jean Kramer gently taught, guided, and encouraged parents of children of all ages since they co-founded Partners in Parenting in 1999. The Sisters have served more than 8,000 parents referred by area social service agencies, schools, and the courts, assisting parents in learning skills in managing anger, modeling positive behavior, discipline, coping with stress and many other challenges that parents encounter.