Father Thomas J. Cronin, MM
Born: November 21, 1922
Ordained: June 10, 1950
Died: August 12, 1994
Fr. Thomas Cronin died at 5:00 p.m. on Friday, August 12, 1994 in Phelps Memorial Hospital. North Tarrytown, New York. He was 71 years of age and a Maryknoll priest for 44 years.
Fr. Cronin was born in Brooklyn, New York, on November 21, 1922, son of John and Mary Ann Fogarty Cronin. He had four brothers and three sisters. He graduated from St. Thomas Aquinas Parochial School in Brooklyn. As a seminarian for the Diocese of Brooklyn he graduated from Cathedral High School in 1941, and studied for two years at Cathedral College. He entered Maryknoll Seminary, Ossining, New York, on September 1, 1943 and secured his Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy. He was ordained a priest at Maryknoll Seminary on June 10, 1950.
After ordination Father Cronin was assigned to studies at the International Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas (Angelicum) in Rome, Italy. He secured a Licentiate Degree in Theology on July 20, 1952, and then remained in Rome for further studies and secured a Licentiate Degree in Sacred Scripture at the Pontifical Biblical Institute. In December of 1954, Father Cronin joined the faculty at Maryknoll College, Glen Ellyn, Illinois, and taught theology, scripture, Latin and Hebrew languages there for three years; and served as Prefect of Discipline.
On April 9, 1957, Father Cronin was assigned to the Maryknoll Mission Region in Chile, South America. He was appointed Assistant Pastor on San Alberto Parish in Santiago. His Superior wrote that “Father Cronin carefully prepares his work and does it exceptionally well. His accessibility and friendliness draws people. The interest and sympathy he shows to people, especially young men, makes him very needful to Chile… the exceptional missionary qualities he has, I would say make him more useful to the missionary cause right where he is.” On November 13, 1961, he was appointed 1st Consultor to the Chile Regional Superior for a term of three years.
While on home furlough in March 1964, Father Cronin was assigned to the faculty of the new Maryknoll Novitiate in Hingham, Massachusetts. He served as Assistant Novice Master, professor of theology and liturgy, librarian, counselor, and confessor, and helped out frequently in local parishes. His Superior wrote of him: “Although capable, open, frank, honest, sincere, friendly, cooperative, forceful, studious, diligent, sociable, companionable, hard worker, he has no special interest in administrative details or in methodical regulating of life. One must go a long way before finding a priest and Maryknoller of Fr. Cronin’s caliber.”
In 1965 he was elected Chapter Delegate for the U.S. Region and participated in the 1966 General Chapter at Maryknoll Center, New York. On February 1, 1968 he was appointed Director of the new Mission Department at Maryknoll, New York for a term of three years; and reappointed for a second term on June 4, 1971 and served there until 1972. Again he was elected Chapter Delegate for the U.S. Region and attended the 1972 General Chapter. After the Chapter, Father Cronin was assigned to the Venezuela Mission Region. In accepting the assignment he wrote: “Maryknoll has given me nothing but blessings and deep happiness, in spite of my own failings and sins. The only return I can make is to stay always ‘disposable’. God has been good never to try my weakness with any sufferings. When I’m, pious, that causes me some shame, but I am grateful anyhow.” He served his pastoral ministry in the parish of Santa Cruz, Las Brisas de Propatria, Caracas. In 1976 Fr. Cronin coordinated the first mixed pastoral team comprised of Maryknoll priests, a Brother, Maryknoll Sisters and couples with their children in Tronconal, Barcelona, Eastern Venezuela. In 1977 he was appointed 1st Consultor to the Regional Superior for a term of three years. In 1982 he wrote about himself: “I’m happy that mission and priesthood have helped me know Christ in such a variety of ways. A few Gospel things have become clearer through the years, though anything but simplistic. Life has seemed integral and integrated. The obstacles are still the same: the seven capital sins, I guess, however subtle their form. ‘Come follow Me’ still strikes me as a challenge. I haven’t followed him very far, but hope to. God has given joy to my youth and middle age; I’m sure He won’t change as the years go by. Hope I do.”
On August 1, 1983 he was assigned to the staff of the Maryknoll Language and Cultural Institute in Cochabamba, Bolivia, but still remained a member of the Venezuela Region. On August 1, 1984, he was appointed Director of the Language Institute in Cochabamba, for a term of three years. In 1986 Fr. Cronin, with his close friend Fr. Joseph Heim, organized a new pastoral work in Independencia III, Barinas. Fr. Cronin lived a simple life style. He loved his pastoral work and witnessed to the joy of the missionary priesthood for so many people.
He returned to St. Teresa’s Residence at Maryknoll Center, New York for medical treatment. He began to work with the library staff of the Maryknoll School of Theology. In October 1992 he returned to Caracas, but the state of his health became worse and he came back to St. Teresa’s Residence in January, 1993.
Wake services were conducted by Fr. Thomas Ahearn in Our Lady Queen of the Apostles Chapel at Maryknoll, New York on the evening of Tuesday, August 16, 1994. Fr. Leo Shea. Vicar General, was principal Celebrant and Fr. Joseph Heim Homilist at the Concelebrated Mass in the Society Chapel at Maryknoll, New York on Wednesday, August 17, 1994. Graveside services were conducted by Fr. Thomas Kirchmyer in the Maryknoll Society Cemetery at the Center.