Brother James Cronen

Brother James, age 92, monk of Mount Saviour Monastery, died peacefully in his sleep on Aug. 24, 2019, at the Sisters of Saint Joseph Motherhouse in Rochester, New York, where he had been living and receiving excellent care since 2016. Brother James, the son of George and Olive (née Duffy) Cronen, was born on June 19, 1927, in East Orange, New Jersey. He earned four letters in athletics in high school and was voted most popular student. He considered becoming a coach, but instead followed the path to monastic life, becoming a Novice with the Benedictines at Saint Paul's Abbey in New Jersey in 1947. He was professed on September 11, 1948, and ordained a priest on May 29, 1954. Brother James began taking his vacations at Mount Saviour in the late 50's. In 1961 he wrote the Subprior, Father Gregory, "I have long desired to live the monastic life pure and simple and, not finding it in Saint Paul's, would like to seek it elsewhere." He expressed his satisfaction with all that he found at Mount Saviour and asked his Abbot to go there for a year of trial. His Abbot agreed, five years later. In 1967 he was allowed to transfer his vow of stability to Mount Saviour. He became secretary to Father Damasus, choir master, novice master and Subprior. He assumed the role of Prior in 2008 after the retirement of Father Martin Boler. Brother James and music were matched for life. He was monastery choir director for many years, a classical pianist, transcribed numerous Introits used at Sunday Mass, enjoyed watching Lawrence Welk reruns in his later years, and was taken weekly to Nazareth College's music classes while with the Sisters in Rochester. He was a lover of nature and of animals, and was clearly in his element as he worked on the monastery farm team. The sheep dogs enjoyed him as their best friend. His regularity in monastic observance extended to the regularity of his menu when cooking for monks and guests. If someone didn't know what day it was, it could easily be figured out by what was being served. He was also regular in his homilies, which induced some monks to lapse into reverie as he frequently waxed poetic about his favorite themes: 4thcentury doctrinal controversies and the early Church and Monastic Fathers. In a 2008 letter to Brother James, the Provincial Superior of the Sisters of St. Mary of Namur recalled Father Damasus saying to the sisters as he saw Brother James approaching the group "That brother is ALL MONK." And so he was—with all the good that implies. His warm smile and gentle presence will be greatly missed. Please pray for him. In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by his brothers Robert, John and Richard. He is survived by his brother monks at Mount Saviour Monastery and by two sisters-in-law, Joan and Josephine Cronen, as well as numerous nieces and nephews. Calling hours at the monastery chapel will be on Aug. 30 from 3:00–5:00 p.m. and 7:00–8:00 p.m. A requiem Mass will be celebrated on Aug. 31 at 10:00 a.m. at Mount Saviour Monastery, Pine City. Burial will be in the monastery cemetery immediately following Mass.