Sudden loss of beloved Father Mike jars community
More than 600 people attended an emotional “Vigil for the Deceased Prayer Service” Thursday evening in the Chapel of Saint Michael the Archangel to remember Edmundite Father Michael Cronogue, who died suddenly earlier Thursday afternoon.
The service came just hours after a campus-wide communication from the President’s Office on email shared news of his death. Here is that message:
“It is with profound shock and sadness that we communicate the sudden passing of one of our community’s most beloved members. Father Michael Cronogue, S.S.E. died this afternoon after experiencing a sudden medical event. Our own Saint Michael’s rescue, of which Fr. Mike was so proud, responded and were there with him along with other close members of our community. He was able to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation from his Edmundite brother, Fr. Brian Cummings. I cannot adequately express the pain and heartbreak we all feel now, but let us remember in this time of grief, his charm, wit and the love he had for all of us.
“Our hearts go out to his brothers Mark and Ron and his family as well as to his Edmundite brothers.
“There will be a Vigil for the Deceased Prayer Service this evening in the Chapel at 7:30 pm. Funeral arrangements are incomplete at this time but we expect the Mass of Christian burial to be next Thursday, October 20, 2016.”
A large contingent of Father Mike’s brother Edmundites sat in the front left rows of pews during the 7:30 prayer service. Directly behind them were a large number of Sisters of Mercy from Burlington, for whom Father Mike regularly said Sunday Mass at their home residence, Mount St. Mary in Burlington.
President Neuhauser led a large delegation of faculty and staff, including several retired and former employees. Also present were many people from the outside community whose lives were touched by the wide-reaching, decades-long ministry of Father Mike, including alumni who live in the area.
The service itself, led by Edmundite Father Brian Cummings, had music from the Liturgical Choir and Ensemble led by Campus Music Minister Jerome Monachino. It also included readings from Scripture by Edmundite Father Marcel Rainville and Edmundite Brother Tom Berube and the reading of Prayers of the Faithful by Heidi St. Peter of the Academic Support office and a former longtime campus minister. Together, all prayed the Our Father and Hail Mary. Many scores of people lingered after the prayer service throughout the Chapel, lobby and outside on the steps to share supportive hugs, tears and conversation.
During the service, Edmundite Brother Michael Carter ’11, who is nearing ordination to the priesthood, came to the lectern after the Gospel reading and spoke eloquently from the heart about Father Mike as an influential mentor and example in his own journey to religious life. Afterward, many agreed that Brother Carter authentically captured the spirit of Father Mike and what he meant to Saint Michael’s.