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Obituary: Father Daniel Cronin, former pastor in Westford

Father Daniel F. Cronin Pilot file photo

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A son of one the great parishes of the archdiocese -- St. James in Haverhill, Father Daniel F. Cronin died in his hometown on Dec. 7. He was 86 years old.

St. James Parish had been one of the notable parishes for its intense concentration of Catholics and a resultant large number of vocations to the priesthood and religious life. The archdiocese of Boston counted many priests and the Sisters of St. Joseph of Boston, many sisters from the parish. Father Cronin was one of those vocations. He was born in Haverhill on June 9, 1922 son of Frank and Mary (Kiley) Cronin.

Educated in the parish grammar and high school, he continued his path to priesthood at Boston College and then at St. John’s Seminary, Brighton. Archbishop Richard Cushing ordained him to the priesthood on June 14, 1949, less than a week following his 24th birthday.

Following his ordination at Holy Cross Cathedral he was assigned as an assistant at St. Francis of Assisi, Medford. Between 1947 and 1952 he was an assistant at Immaculate Conception, Weymouth; St. Michael, Hudson; and St. Patrick, Natick. He was chaplain at Cambridge area hospitals and institutions from 1952-1953 when he was named an assistant at St. Peter Parish, Lowell.

He left the archdiocese in 1953 and served as a chaplain in the chaplain corps of the United States Navy, returning in 1961 as an assistant at St. Mary of the Annunciation Parish, Danvers. In the next 10 year he would see assignments as either an assistant or associate at parishes in Randolph at St. Mary; Bedford at St. Michael; Watertown at St. Patrick ­ serving with fellow Haverhill native, Msgr. Michael J. Houlihan. His final assignment before being named a pastor was at St. William, Dorchester.

Cardinal Humberto Medeiros named him pastor of St. Catherine of Alexandria Parish in Westford on May 29, 1973. The move to the then small rural parish fit like “hand in glove” as he remained pastor for the next 25 years retiring on July 1, 1988 when Cardinal Bernard Law granted him senior priest retirement status. During his time at Westford he guided a rapidly growing Catholic population and saw the expansion of parish facilities.

Even in retirement he remained available for his former parish and was a frequent and welcome “assistant” to both his successors. His gravelly voice never masked his kindness or his empathetic and understanding heart.

Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley was scheduled to celebrate the Funeral Mass at St. Catherine of Alexandria on Dec. 12. The parish’s current pastor, Father Peter Quinn and his associate, Father David White joined Father Thomas Stanton, the homilist as concelebrants. Among the other brother priests expected at the funeral were Merrimack Regional Vicar, Father Arthur Coyle; archdiocesan vicar general, Father Richard Erikson; and other contemporaries and friends of Father Cronin.

Father Cronin’s immediate survivors are his sisters Lillian Lupi, Haverhill; Mary Maddix, Battle Creek, Mich.; and Eileen Breglia, Methuen.

Following the Funeral Mass, Father Cronin was buried in St. James Cemetery, Haverhill.

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