A vocation 55 years in the making

The remarkable story of Louisville’s newest priest, from the Louisville Record:

Deacon David A. Cockson knew he wanted to be a priest when he made his first holy Communion as a 7-year-old in Grand Island, Neb.

Fifty-five years later, his religious vocation will be realized. His ordination, set for Saturday, will be the fulfilment of an unwavering commitment to his vocation delayed only by an equally strong devotion to his family.

Deacon Cockson will be ordained a priest of the Archdiocese of Louisville at 11 a.m. on May 31, by Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz at the Cathedral of the Assumption, 433 S. Fifth St.

At 63, Deacon Cockson is soft spoken and tall and he’s among the oldest men to be ordained in this archdiocese. That’s one of the reasons he came here; the Archdiocese of Louisville is open to later-in-life vocations.

He has one other connection to Kentucky: He was educated by the Dominican Sisters of Peace from St. Catharine, Ky., who were on mission in Nebraska in the 1950s. The sisters attracted him to the priesthood and helped nurture his vocation by their joy, commitment and prayerful witness, he said.

Deacon Cockson is the sixth of eight children born to Alvin and Mary Cockson in south central Nebraska in close proximity to the meandering Platte River. They were a prayerful family whose lives revolved around parish life, he said.

A life-changing event early in his life — at age 15 — helped to affirm and continues still to guide his religious vocation.

Marcia Cockson, Deacon Cockson’s older sister by 11 months, made the ultimate sacrifice when she was 16.

On Dec. 9, 1965, he and Marcia were on their way to school. Marcia was driving and prepared to cross a one-lane bridge when an oncoming car nearly collided with them.
“We crossed five narrow bridges to go to high school. We were on the last bridge; it was foggy and icy. Marcia was driving very cautiously. Out of the fog comes our neighbor’s vehicle.”

The neighbor, a father of eight, was driving with his father. Marcia made an effort to avoid hitting them, causing herself and Deacon Cockson to be ejected from their car. Marcia did not survive.

“My sister made a decision to give up her life to save” two others, Deacon Cockson said. “We saw their faces in the window — I can still see them. She chose to sacrifice her life for their lives and their family.”

The local bishop attended Marcia’s funeral and the church was filled to overflowing, Deacon Cockson said. Marcia’s classmates still remember her — “They remember her sacrifice, her devotion to life,” he said.

The lesson that lingers for him relates to suffering.

“Marcia was a mentor for me,” he said. “And she taught me the meaning of suffering in my own life. I’ve been able to look through the pain in order to see the possibilities in that suffering. I hope, as a priest, to be able to offer that hope to people — to look for possibilities for new life.”

Read the rest. The last paragraph is a stunner.