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Obituary: Edmundite Father Michael P. Cronogue

BURLINGTON—Edmundite Father Michael P. Cronogue, 68, died Oct. 13.
The son of George and Mary Cronogue, he was born on Nov. 8, 1947, in West Hartford, Conn. He was a professed member of the Society of St. Edmund for 43 years and an Edmundite priest for 39 years.
Father Cronogue received a bachelor of science degree in engineering from Northeastern University in 1970. He completed his master’s degree in theology at the University of St. Michael’s College in Toronto in 1976. In 2009 he was awarded a doctor of education from the University of Vermont.
Burlington Bishop John A. Marshall ordained Father Cronogue on May 7, 1977, at the Chapel of St. Michael the Archangel at St. Michael’s College in Colchester.
Following ordination to the priesthood, Father Cronogue served as parochial vicar at Our Lady Queen of Peace Parish in Selma, Ala., from 1977-80, and the next 30 years of his priesthood at St. Michael’s College as campus minister and director of the Center of Peace and Justice.
In 1990, he founded the Mobilization of Volunteer Efforts.
His commitment to the students at St. Michael’s College is acknowledged by numerous awards including the yearbook dedication from the Class of 2000; the Cesar Chavez Peace and Justice Award in recognition of his tireless championing of service, ethics and rights at St. Michael’s College; and most recently the Rev. Gerald Dupont Award presented by the Student Association of St. Michael’s College.
Father Cronogue served the Edmundite Community in several leadership positions from 1991-2014 as local superior of the Society of St. Edmund at St. Michael’s College, general councilor of the Edmundite Community and as superior general from 2006-2014. He also served as director of formation and vocation director of the Edmundite Community and as a member of the St. Michael’s College Board of Trustees.
Along with his Edmundite community, Father Cronogue is survived by his brother, Mark, of New York City; and his brother, Ronald, of North Carolina and his wife, Tina and sons, Graham and Ian from Washington, D.C.
Viewing will be on Thursday, Oct. 20, from 10 a.m.-12:45 p.m. in the Chapel of St. Michael the Archangel at St. Michael’s College followed by a Mass of Christian Burial at 1 p.m.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to M.O.V.E. at St. Michael’s College, P.O. Box 256, 1 Winooski Park, Colchester, VT 05439.

Read about Fr. Cronogue’s service at the Burlington Ronald McDonald House in "Serving Up Mercy" from the August 2016 issue of Vermont Catholic Magazine

  • Published in Diocesan

Serving Up Mercy: Edmundite priest volunteers, affirms need for Ronald McDonald House charities

It wasn’t long before Edmundite Father Michael Cronogue began volunteering at the Ronald McDonald House in Burlington that the reprehensible happened: Vandals burned, decapitated and cut off the feet of the iconic Ronald McDonald figure that sat on a wooden bench outside the home-away-from-home for sick children and their families.

Soon afterward, another life-sized, red-headed clown in yellow, red and white clothing with big red shoes was sitting in the yard at the corner of South Winooski and Pearl streets, thanks to the generosity of a former McDonald’s restaurant owner in St. Louis. The figure is now under the watchful lens of a security camera provided by Ronald McDonald House supporters.

And so it was in March that Father Cronogue — just a month into his volunteer service at the house — offered a special prayer at the dedication of the new Ronald McDonald statue.

He was invited to volunteer at the house after a Catholic family suffered the loss of their parents.

A member of the Edmundite Campus Ministry team at St. Michael’s College in Colchester, Father Cronogue — a tall, gentle man — accepted the invitation not only as a way to serve the spiritual and practical needs of those who are staying at the house but as a way to connect with people outside the college community.

“Part of our Catholic tradition is to give back, especially to those on the margin,” he said. “Here I see a sense of mission, to provide a home for children and their families while the children are being taken care of” at the medical center.

The Ronald McDonald House opened in Burlington in 1984 in the former parsonage of the First Congregational Church of Burlington next door. The house offers accommodations for up to 50 guests; 80 percent of the families that stay there have a pre-term baby in the nearby University of Vermont Medical Center. It serves about 400 families a year.

The house is staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week to assist families who are staying there — welcoming them, answering questions about laundry, making sure they have the basics they need during their stay, answering the telephone and the like.

There are three full-time and one part-time employees and about 200 volunteers.

Father Cronogue sees his role as being available to the guests and making sure the house is safe.

“When he is here, he brings his sense of spirituality and draws people together,” said Kristine Bickford, executive director of the house. “He listens. He is non-judgmental…. He exudes warmth and kindness.”

He volunteers about three hours a week — usually in the evenings when families are returning from long days at the hospital. He’s there to talk if they want, but he does not proselytize.

Father Cronogue, a former superior general of the Society of St. Edmund who also serves at St. Anne’s Shrine in Isle LaMotte, is believed to be the first priest to volunteer regularly at the house. “I feel I can help,” he said.

“Every family is in a vulnerable state here,” said Deanna Cameron, volunteer and guest relations manager.

Father Cronogue says what he brings to Ronald McDonald House is an understanding of confidentiality and protection for children and vulnerable adults.

He would like to draw more Catholics and St. Michael’s College students into volunteering at the house.

Being there “puts a perspective on life,” he added. “You see the dignity of life.”

Anyone who is interested in volunteering may call Cameron at 802-862-4943.

For more information about Ronald McDonald House, go to rmhcvt.org.

Article written by Cori Fugere Urban,
Vermont Catholic content editor/staff writer.
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