Rev Canon Michael Cooke VG BA (Hons) MPhil
Parish Priest and Rural Dean
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Fr Cooke became parish priest at St John's, Bromley Cross at the end of August 2006 and took on the additional responsibility of St Brendan's, Harwood in November 2007. He was appointed rural dean for Bolton in December 2009 (re-appointed January 2013) and a diocesan trustee in June 2011. He became parish priest of St Columba's, Tonge Moor at Christmas 2012.
Born in Oldham in February 1959, Fr Cooke was educated at St Mary's Primary School, Oldham, Sacred Heart Primary School, Oldham (which opened at Easter 1969) and St Alban's High School, Oldham (for one year) before going to the Junior Seminary at UpHolland. At age 18, he transferred to the Senior Seminary at Ushaw College and, whilst there, studied for a BA (Hons) in Theology at Durham University.
Ordained priest at Sacred Heart, Oldham on 5 November 1983, Fr Cooke served as assistant priest at St Edward's, Darwen from December 1983 to May 1986. From February 1985 to May 1989, he served as a Secondary Schools Religious Education Adviser for the Diocese (living initially at St Edward's, then at St Patrick's, Manchester and St James', Salford).
In May 1989, he moved to St Joseph's, Manchester, initially as a base for two years full-time study (for an MPhil in Religious Studies) but remained there whilst serving as Chaplain to Manchester Metropolitan University (1991 to 1999) and as Director of Religious Education for the diocese (1999 to 2006).
Fr Cooke has also served on the Diocesan Schools Commission, as Editor of the Diocesan Almanac, as Chairman of the Diocesan Valuing Difference Group (concerned with disability awareness) and as Secretary of the diocesan Faith in the Future working parties.
Nationally, alongside these diocesan appointments and responsibilities, Fr Cooke was also Chairman of the Conference of Chaplains in Higher Education (1994 to 1997) and Secretary to the Bishops' Conference Department for Catholic Education and Formation (1996 to 2009).
Since coming to Bolton, Fr Cooke has become very involved in the work of the Bolton Interfaith Council and the Bolton Christian Community Cohesion Project. He is a member of Bolton Council's Faith Leaders' Forum and was one of the Patrons for Passion for Bolton.