Meet Sister Phyllis (Julie Patrice) Cook – 60-Year Jubilarian

While inspired by St. Julie Billiart’s simplicity and loving spirit, Phyllis Cook wasn't attracted to religious life, herself.. “I’m not the type!” she exclaimed to people who thought she might be “Sister material.” But when Phyllis started looking more closely at the Sisters who taught at the College of Notre Dame where she was a student, it seemed there was no real “type.” They were young and old, all with different personalities. During a Holy Thursday service in her sophomore year, she knew she was called to enter.

As a young Sister she taught in many schools, beginning with fourth grade at St. Lucy Elementary School in Campbell, CA. Later, while teaching sixth- and seventh-graders at St. Francis of Assisi School in Seahurst, WA, Sr. Phyllis also had the joy of discussing Vatican II teachings with adults. Three years at Holy Family School in Honolulu, HI, broadened her world to a new culture and climate! She then returned to the mainland to teach for seven years at St. Joseph Notre Dame High School in her hometown Alameda.

Sr. Phyllis Cook, SNDdeN, in her younger years.

When Sister Phyllis responded to a call to serve in Kenya for two years, she became part of the teaching team for the Egoji Teacher Training College in Eastern Kenya. This experience meant revising teaching methods (forget about handouts!), learning Kiswahili and seeing extreme poverty first hand.

When she returned to the United States, Sr. Phyllis initiated the successful Writing to Read program at Nativity School in Los Angeles. A few years later, she became principal at St. Columbkille School in Los Angeles, a job she cherished for 11 years.

Kenyan preschoolers with Sr. Phyllis Cook.

In 2007, Sister was invited by Notre Dame Sister Masheti Wangoyi in Kenya to work with postulants and Sisters in initial commitment. According to Sr. Phyllis, the job called for "lots of listening, learning, celebrating and exercising patience with myself and others!” She adds that “Today those Postulants hold responsible positions in the Kenya Unit and are forming more young Kenyan women to become SNDdeN's.”

Sister Phyllis Cook with Sisters in Kenya.

“Truly God is good all the time. My early fascination with St. Julie has grown into a strong love and ever-growing appreciation of her wisdom and her experience of the good God. I am grateful that over 50 years ago I was called to become an SNDdeN, a member of an international family. That call is ongoing with ever new horizons.”

Sister Phyllis Cook with her dear cousin Anne in 2010.

Sister Phyllis's Ministries

Educator

1963-64 St. Lucy School, Campbell, CA
1964-66 St. Joseph Elementary School, San Jose, CA
1966-69 St. Francis of Assisi School, Seahurst, WA
1969-73 Holy Family Catholic Academy, Pearl Harbor, HI
1973-74 St. Clare Elementary School, Santa Clara, CA
1974-81 Notre Dame High School, Alameda, CA
1981-83 Teacher Training College, Kenya
1987-88 Sacred Heart School, Salinas, CA
1988-90 Nativity Catholic School, Los Angeles, CA
1990-2001 St. Columbkille School, Los Angeles, CA (Principal)
2003-07 Sixty-Eighth Street Elementary School, Los Angeles, CA

Service to the Sisters

2007-13 Postulant Director, Kenya
2014-Present  Community Support, Kenya

Caption for top photo: Sister Phyllis (center) with then-postulants Susan Libendi (left) and Sister Elizabeth Sichangi (right). Both are now responsible professed Sisters!  

Comments

  1. Phyllis, I don’t quite know how to express my feelings at this moment except to say I feel so fortunate to have spent very special times with you. Those special times grew into a friendship that I cherish to this day. I am impressed by your accomplishments but by no means surprised.
    Take good care and be safe.
    With love, joy and unending grateful memories.
    Ann

  2. Awesome. 60 years. Fantastic. Thanks for all the caring in those years.

    Please pray for all of us.
    These are scary, challenging times.

    God Bless and thanks again.
    Sue Digre

  3. Dear Sister Phyllis, Congratulations on your 60th Anniversary as an SND. I remember we met when my sister Catherine, my husband Jim and I visited Sr. Joan Burke in Kenya a few years ago. It was wonderful meeting you and sharing during the time we were there. It was wonderful learning about St. Julie from you and the other sisters. I think St. Julie would certainly be very proud of you and the work you have done over the years for God's children. Again Congratulations. love, JoAnn Consiglieri

  4. Hi Phyllis,

    As I just read my cousin JoAnn Consiglieri's comment above thought I'd write. We go way back to SND and the San Francisco Symphony! Congratulations on your 60th Anniversary as a SND. You're one who stuck with it.

    Marianne Gallo

  5. Hi, Phyllis Anne,

    Anne emailed me and told me about this article. Congratulatons on your 60th. I hope we can get together again when you return home for a visit.

    With our love,

    Jacky & Dan

  6. Dear Phyllis,
    Congratulations on your wonderful and inspiring 60 years as an SND! I remember fondly our time together in the music department and our drives to SF to attend the SF Symphony. It is so remarkable that you have made (and are still making) such a difference in our world in your different roles. Thank God for you and all the SND Jubilarians.

    Love,
    Helen Corcoran Intintoli

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