Holy cross

Remembering Harry Cronin, Director of the Holy Cross Center in Berkeley

Reverend Harry Cornelius Cronin, November 12, 1935 – April 7, 2022

Reverend Harry Cornelius Cronin. Credit: Congregation of Holy Cross

Reverend Harry C. Cronin, 87, died at Holy Cross House in Notre Dame, Indiana on April 7, 2022, after a short illness.

Cronin was born on November 12, 1935, in Denver, Colorado, the only child of Harry and Marguerite (Gaffy) Cronin, who preceded him in death. After graduating from Cathedral High School in 1953, Cronin entered the Old College program at the University of Notre Dame. A year later he went to the Sacred Heart Novitiate in Jordan, Minnesota, where he made his first vows on August 16, 1955. In 1958 he graduated from the University of Notre Dame with a bachelor’s degree in philosophy. In 1962, he received a master’s degree in theology from Holy Cross College in Washington, DC and was ordained a priest of the Holy Cross in Denver on May 26 of that year.

After ordination, Cronin spent a year at Notre Dame in the Pastoral Apprenticeship Program, then continued his studies at the University of Minnesota, where he received a doctorate in theater arts in 1968. From 1968 in 1978, he was playwright-in-residence at the University of Portland in Oregon, then director of its theater for four years until 1982. From 1983 to 1986, he was associate pastor at St. Francis Xavier Parish in Burbank, California, before being assigned to campus ministry at Notre Dame High School in Sherman Oaks until 1991. In 1991 he moved to the Los Angeles area where he served as pastor, high school chaplain and chaplain hospital for the Veterans Administration for the next seven years.

In 1998, he moved to the Bay Area, where he began teaching religious acting and film classes at Berkeley’s Graduate Theological Union. In 2001 he became director of Holy Cross Center in Berkeley, where he remained until moving to Holy Cross House in Notre Dame in 2020.

Cronin received the “James H. Mitchell Memorial Award” for playwriting when he graduated from the University of Notre Dame. He received a McKnight Foundation Graduate Theater Fellowship at the Tyrone Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis. He received a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship in 1982 and was a long-time member of the Ensemble Studio Theater in Los Angeles. He has directed a few plays over the years, but he is best known as a playwright. His solo piece titled Memoirs of Jesus was produced by the Matrix Theater in Los Angeles and received two Los Angeles Drama-Logue awards and his solo play titled my will and my life won a Best of Fringe award at the San Francisco Fringe Festival in 2019. His book, Eugene O’Neill, Irish and American was published by Arno Press.

Funeral services will be held at 6:30 a.m. PT on Wednesday, April 13 at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Notre Dame. You can watch via live broadcast.

Interment will be in the Communal Cemetery of Notre-Dame. Kaniewski Funeral Home, South Bend, is responsible for arrangements.

Memorial contributions in support of the mission and ministries of the Congregation of the Holy Cross may be done online.