The Very Reverend Michael J. Cronin, IVDei, JCL, 57, a priest of the Diocese of Winona Rochester and former staffer for the United States Congress, died of complications post heart bypass surgery, on August 16, 2023, at 3:57 AM.
Born December 7, 1965 to Paul R. and Ann Marie (Puchner) in Rochester, MN, he attended St. Pius X Grade School and Lourdes High School. He then attended St. John's University in Collegeville, MN and graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Political Science in 1988. Having interned in the Washington, DC, congressional office of former U.S. Representative Timothy J. Penny in 1986, he was hired as a permanent staff member in that office upon his graduation, serving first as a staff assistant and then as assistant office manager.
Granted a leave of absence from the congressional office in 1990, he began seminary studies at Immaculate Heart of Mary Seminary in Winona and continued at the St. Paul Seminary at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, graduating with a Master of Divinity degree in 1994. He was ordained a deacon on December 7, 1994, in Winona, by Bishop John G. Vlazny and was ordained a priest on June 13, 1995, at the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in Winona.
From 1995-1998, he served as Parochial Vicar at St. Pius X in Rochester and was Chaplain and Instructor at Lourdes High School. He then served as Parochial Vicar at the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart, Winona, and Immaculate Conception, Wilson, and was Newman Center Chaplain at Winona State University from 1998-2000.
In 2000, he briefly served as Parochial Administrator in Mankato and Lake Crystal prior to beginning studies in Canon Law in Washington, DC, at the Catholic University of America, where he received the degree J.C.L. in 2002.
In 2002, he returned to Winona as Chancellor of the Diocese of Winona and Pastor of Holy Trinity parish in Rollingstone and St. Mary's parish in Minneiska, while also serving in a number of other diocesan administrative capacities, including Director of Diocesan Cemeteries, Director of Vocations, Director of Continuing Education, Director of the Incardination Board, the Diocesan Review Committee, Defender of the Bond on the Marriage Tribunal, and Corporate Secretary for the Diocese of Winona.
In 2005, following two heart attacks, he began a medical leave of absence and decided to take some time away from active ministry and was again employed by the U.S. House of Representatives until October of 2010, first as Office Director for the House Historian and then as Administrative Director of the Office of Inspector General, both under the auspices of the Speaker of the House.
In the spring of 2011, he returned to active ministry and was assigned as Parochial Vicar at the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart and St. Casimir parish and once again as Chaplain at Winona State University Newman Center.
In 2012, he began service at Sacred Heart in Owatonna and Holy Trinity in Litomysl. During that time, he also served as Vice President of the Presbyteral Council and was a volunteer chaplain for the Minnesota Correctional Facility in Faribault and the Owatonna Police Department. He was later assigned as Pastor to St. Ann's in Janesville, St. Joseph in Waldorf and All Saints in New Richland prior to serving in his current assignment as Pastor of St. Mary's Parish in Winona since 2019 along with more recent appointments as Judicial Vicar, Chancellor, Ecumenical Affairs Officer of the Diocese of Winona Rochester and served on the College of Consultors.
During his professional career, he was a member of the Canon Law Society of America, the National Organization of Continuing Education of Roman Catholic Clergy, the Society of American Archivists, and the Academy of Certified Archivists. In addition, he was a member of the Institute Voluntas Dei, a clerical institute of pontifical right, based in Canada with members in 21 countries. He was also a proud member of the Knights of Columbus and the Knights of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem.
During his life he had the opportunity to travel to Ireland, England, Scotland, Wales, Germany, Italy, France, Hungary, Poland, Austria, Czech Republic, Switzerland, Israel, Egypt, Canada, and Haiti. In addition to his travels, he enjoyed family and friends, music, photography, the outdoors, and was enrolled in a variety of research protocols at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester as well as the NIH in Bethesda, Maryland.
Fr. Cronin is survived by his brother, Mark Cronin of Savage; five sisters--Maureen (Mark) Earp of Bloomington; Mary Jo Paulson of Minnetonka; Marcie (Joe) Becker of Hayward, WI; Monica Cronin of Inver Grove Heights; and Maggie (Tim) McWilliams of Prior Lake; many nieces and nephews; as well as many friends, associates, and colleagues over the years. He was preceded in death by his father, Paul, in 1972, his mother, Ann Marie Cronin Bock of Rochester as well as his fraternal and maternal grandparents, John and Grace Cronin of Rochester and William and Teckla Puchner of New Ulm. He was loved by his 2 golden retrievers Gracie and Finn.
There will be a visitation on Sunday August 20, 2023 from 4PM to 7PM with Vespers Service at 7PM at St. Pius X Roman Catholic Church in Rochester, an additional visitation will take place on Monday, August 21 from 9AM to 11AM again at St. Pius X. The Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated Monday, August 21 at 11 AM with The Most Reverend Robert E. Barron as principal celebrant along with principal concelebrants The Very Rev. James P. Burns and Rev. Timothy E. Biren as well as priests of the Diocese of Winona Rochester and other priest friends as concelebrants. A private burial will take place with the family at a later date at Calvary Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, memorials are suggested to the Diocese of Winona Priest Pension Fund, the Mayo Clinic Poverello Fund, Mayo Clinic for cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular, or depression research, or the Voluntas Dei Institute/USA District for seminary education and formation.
Ranfranz and Vine Funeral Home is honored to be serving the Cronin family; to share a special memory or condolence, please visit www.ranfranzandvinefh.com.
To view the livestream of Father Cronin's service, please click the link below: