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In Memoriam:  MPS Founder Fr. George G. Cotter, MM

It is said that “we stand on the shoulders of those who precede us.”    As that is true, there is probably no Catholic missionary alive today who does owe some connection or debt of gratitude to Maryknoll Missionary and MPS Founder George G. Cotter, MM.

After 68 years as a missionary and 58 years as a priest, Fr. Cotter passed away on September 6 in Maryknoll, New York, at the age of 88.

It was the missionary work that Fr. Cotter began in Tanzania in the late 1960s and early 1970s that formed the convictions that led to his creation of MPS.  After he returned to the US from Tanzania in 1972 to complete theology studies, he then studied languages in Bolivia, Guatemala and El Salvador, returning again to New Jersey, USA in 1974 to the Mission Research and Planning Department.  This led in 1977 to the formal creation of Mission Project Service.  The first Funding Guide, Agencies for Project Assistance, was published in 1981.

Sacred Heart Father Pierre Aubin, MSC, who took over operations of MPS in the 1990s, remembers that Fr. Cotter’s passionate belief in the missionary sister, priest and brother, is what continued to inspire him.   “His motivation and one phrase that he often said was ‘Missionaries do great work, but they could do more good with more (financial) help’ “ said Fr. Aubin.

We can thankfully and humbly say that Fr. Cotter’s guiding principle is also the same today and our worthy challenge is to live up to the level of commitment and advocacy for missionaries that our Founder manifested in his life.