David and Ann Cronin
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WOBURN -- For most of their 45 years of marriage, David and Ann Cronin have been active parishioners at St. Barbara Parish in Woburn. It is there that they raised their three children; it is there that they feel “at home with God,” as Ann described it.
“Our parish is warm and friendly,” David added, “and I believe that is true because of the great leadership we’ve had over the years. There’s a real camaraderie with the lay leaders of the parish that comes through in everything we do.”
Although they have been involved in a variety of ways over the past 41 years, today Ann, 66, is the youth minister. She also runs the drop-in center for middle school and high school students -- a center which operates three afternoons during the week so teens can meet, play pool, eat snacks, and “just entertain themselves in a healthy atmosphere.” She also helps the parish youth “earn their way” to the New Spirit Youth Camp, a summer camp run by Pat Sears which is held at the Holy Cross Campground in Goshen, Mass.
“By helping out the youth ministry program, the kids earn points, so most of them earn the $300 it costs to go there,” she explained.
According to Ann, “I’ve never seen a kid who went there who doesn’t want to go back year after year.”
David, 67, is the parish’s music director, leading the choir and scheduling the music ministry in the parish. In addition, he supports the parish’s Web site.
“To me, singing changes the liturgy,” he said, noting that the attendance at the choir Mass has grown during the 10 years he has been the music director.
“Maybe the ones who go to the choir Mass get a little extra blessing because of the music,” he joked.
Originally from Beverly, both David and Ann Cronin were raised Catholic. Although they both acknowledge that things have changed since they were children, they confirmed that their faith is what has kept them strong during their lives.
“I have really had occasion to turn to my faith during some really difficult ordeals in my life,” Ann said. “It has helped me through many things.”
For David, an engineer by profession, his scientific background has often challenged his faith. He recalled how as a child the nuns would often warn him to “be careful when you are a scientist because it will challenge your faith.”
“I do struggle with that,” he admitted. However, he sees with sadness how much “the world has changed” due to a lack of faith.
“I think the world has changed, and that the Church has changed because they have lost the backbone of the nuns,” he said. And because of that, he continued, “society has changed.”
“It seems to me we have lost a generation, and that [generation] seems to be very difficult to recover,” David said pensively.
Ann believes the future of the Church lies with the youth.
“I think kids are hungry for their faith,” she said, speaking from her 44 years of experience working with Catholic youth. “I think it’s the kids who are going to turn that around.”