From County Kerry to New Orleans: Father John M. Cronin, S.J. (1873-1939)

Father John M. Cronin was born November 13, 1873, in Listowel, County Kerry, Ireland. He received his elementary education in the Listowel National School and his high school courses in the Christian Brothers’ School in Tralee, County Kerry. In this latter school, he began his career teaching as a layman in 1888. But after four years, the voice of the Great Teacher called him to St. Stanislaus College, Macon, Ga., the novitiate of the Southern Province of the Society of Jesus in America. After the usual period of novitiate, young John vowed his life perpetually to God as a Jesuit September 8, 1894, and for three years remained at Macon pursuing his classical studies.

In 1897, he was transferred to St. Charles College, Grand Couteau, La., where the study of scholastic philosophy and the natural sciences arrested his time and attention until the year 1900 when his superiors assigned him the duty of teaching in the same college where he had been studying for the past three years. In 1902, Mr. Cronin was sent to teach at the College of the Immaculate Conception in New Orleans, where he remained until 1905. During these five years of teaching, his solid piety merited for him the consoling duty of directing the altar boys. Great was his joy when he returned to his dear old Ireland for his course in theology; but greater still it was when he was ordained to the sacred priesthood in Dublin on July 26, 1908, by the late Archbishop Walsh of Dublin. After his ordination, the young Levite came back to the United States to make his third year of Novitiate at St. Andrew-on-Hudson, Poughkeepsie, N.Y. With the exception of this year, practically his entire priestly life was spent in the hidden and laborious work of the classroom. From 1908 to 1911 we find him teaching at Sacred Heart College, Augusta, Ga., and at the same time acting for two years as the Father Minister of the Jesuit community. From 1912 to 1914, the responsibility of Assistant Master of Novices was laid upon his youthful shoulders, carrying with it also the task of teaching the young Jesuit novices then at Macon, Ga. From 1914 to 1922, the classroom at Tampa College claimed his attention on school days, and the neighboring mission churches his pastoral care on Sundays and Holydays. After eight years of service here, Father Cronin was changed to Jesuit High School in New Orleans, where he remained until the closing of the school year in June, 1939.

In the early summer months he was forced to enter the Mercy Hospital in New Orleans where he died on Saturday, December 9, 1939. 

Few Jesuit professors, if any, have been responsible for more vocations to the priesthood than was Father Cronin. By word and example, he was to the students an inspiration of Christlike charity, kindness, consideration, humility, and patience. To him they flocked for confession and advice. This same spirit of his was ever in evidence during his six months of suffering before his death. His was not the life of glamor before men; rather was it that deeper, constant reminder of the teaching of the Sacred Heart, “Be ye imitators of Me as I am of the Father.”

It might be added in closing that Father John was only one of the six Cronins of the same family who consecrated themselves to God in the New Orleans Province of the Society of Jesus. He leaves behind him his two Jesuit brothers, Father Michael, the pastor of St. Francis Xavier Church in Miami, and Father Patrick, the assistant pastor of Sacred Heart Church in Tampa. He was also first cousin of Father Daniel Cronin, Secretary of Spring Hill College, and Father Timothy Cronin, treasurer of Jesuit High School. Another cousin, Father Michael F. Cronin, died a few years ago.

R.I.P.

The Woodstock Letters, Vol. 70 (1941): 441-443.  

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