Monsignor Paul Cook was an administrator in the Catholic Archdiocese of Baltimore for 17 years before he became the spiritual leader of St. Joseph Parish in Cockeysville in 1977, at age 45.
"My feeling at the time was that I had served my sentence," he told his parishioners Sunday. "We're not ordained to be administrators. We're ordained to be ministers."
Thirty-seven years later, Cook, now 82, was presiding at his final Mass before retiring. He will now live at Mercy Ridge, a retirement community in Timonium, where the diocese moves many of its retired priests.
Sunday's Mass, which was as much a celebration of Cook as it was a church service, was...