A Vigil for the Deceased Prayer Service was held on Thursday, October 13, 2016 for Father Michael Cronogue, SSE. Edmundite Brother Michael Carter '11 spoke at the service, sharing the following:
Words are so futile. So feeble. I am in shock. We all are. Earlier today I called my brother, Fr. Lino Oropeza and said the words that no one wants to hear over the phone. “You need to drop what you’re doing and come here right now.” I know that the pain and the emotion that I am still processing in my own heart right now is pain that you all feel as acutely as I do, perhaps more so. Fr. Mike was a beautiful soul, because perhaps he was such a unique one. To watch him work a room was a sight to behold. To see the genuine kindness and compassion that he had for each and every person he met beggared belief. When Fr. Mike told you he was there for you, that was not just lip service. That was not just somebody saying an empty platitude because it sounds like the right thing to do, that was real, that was authentic, that was genuine and you could feel it. You could feel it.
That compassion was matched by a strong intellect, and a sharp wit. Mike’s humor always bordered on the bizarre, which is why I loved it so; and there so many inside jokes, so many catchphrases, so much laughter that we shared. Mike’s humor and commitment to community was my door into religious life, my door into the Society of Saint Edmund. As I walk shyly around the halls of Alliot still trying to find my footing as A Campus Ministry staff member, I will never forget how he pushed me continually to meet as many members of Campus as I could, to overcome my fear and my reserved nature. I think back to how he was always on the frontlines of Campus culture, seemingly at every meeting, he knew everyone, he loved everyone and that love was infectious. It’s hard to imagine Campus life without him. It’s like saying Durick Library burnt down, all that knowledge, all that wisdom, all that love. And I speak as one that only had Mike in my life for a short time. Many of you can tell about a deep relationship going back ten years. Twenty years. Thirty years. Mike gave his life, his love, his soul for this Campus, which was his deepest and most abiding love.
For how can we talk about Mike without talking about love? Mike is one of the few people about whom I can genuinely say that he loved each and every one of you, and you know when I say that, that it’s true. You felt his love. When I think about the intensity of Love that God has for humanity; that is the love that Mike had for each and every one of us. The core and source of his love was always in his faith in the Scriptures, in the Gospel. You heard the love when you heard him preach. We heard Jesus say in the Gospel that no one comes to the Father except through me. I think for many in this room, we may not have found our way to Jesus if not for Mike’s honest example. There are many rooms in the Father’s house, and it seemed like Mike had a key to them all. He would find a way to make you feel welcomed, loved and comforted. His great model in this action was Jesus Christ, and few men modeled the life and witness of Christ like Michael Cronogue did. Michael spent his life preparing a place for us all, because he knew and loved Christ, who has prepared a place for him today. Michael had faith that as Jesus says, I will come back again and take you to myself. Mike’s faith in the resurrection was not a joke, was not an academic exercise, and it could be witnessed every single day of his life by how he lived his life. He lived his life for this college. And he gave his life for this college, and for his work at this college, he takes his place in the house of Our Lord.
For those of us that are left behind, as we think of Mike, and the ways that he touched and enriched and enhanced our lives, we can come to understand that as Christ prepared a way for Michael, Michael in his inimitable fashion prepared the way for each and every one of us. We mourn his loss, but keep within our hearts the lessons that he taught us all, through just being who he was, which was at its deepest core Love. Help me prepare the way, Michael, as you committed so much of your time to helping me. I yearn for the time when we will be reunited. I miss you my brother, and I love you.