THERE were tears and fond memories in equal measure as mourners gathered to bid farewell to Fr Con Cronin (72) who died tragically when he was struck by a bus in Monkstown.
At Fr Cronin’s funeral service at St Joseph’s Church in, Coomhola outside Bantry, the family were joined by chief celebrant, Bishop of Cork and Ross Fintan Gavin; Fr O’Connor of St Patrick’s Missionary Society; Fr Cronin’s former classmate Fr Kieran Murphy; Bishop of Meath Tom Deenihan; his former colleague Fr Sean O’Sullivan; Canon Martin O’Driscoll, and Fr John Heinhold.
Almost 17,000 mourners joined online to watch Fr Cronin’s brother, Teddy and sisters-in-law, Margaret and Mary, and extended family wish Fr Con farewell.
Mourners heard that Fr Con was a member of the St Patrick’s Missionary Society for almost 49 years and that he had served as curate in Passage West since 2012.
In his homily, friend and fellow member of the St Patrick’s Missionary Society, Fr Tomás O’Connor spoke of Fr Cronin’s determination to become a priest, and how following the death of his mother, Mary (nee Murphy), he completed his secondary education in Scotland, so that he could follow his dream, before spending 25 years in West Africa.
‘His was a life lived for others,’ Fr O’Connor said.
‘He would give you the shirt off his back. He knew how to make friends, and more importantly how to hold on to friends. Creed, race, gender or colour were not important to him. He treated everyone as an individual and helped everyone to be their true selves.’
Bishop Gavin said that Fr Cronin was devoted in his ministry and had helped so many people over his life –as was evident by messages of sympathy from all over the world. These came from the Papal Nuncio, Reverend Jude Thaddeus Okolo, and the bishop of the Minna diocese in Nigeria which Fr Cronin helped establish.
‘So many have been touched by his life and his ministry,’ Bishop Gavin said.
‘His deep compassion, his humanity, his openness, he was so non-judgmental – it was at the heart of his missionary duty, he was always reaching out.’
Prayers were also said at the mass for Mark Wills (51), the bus driver who also died at the scene of the accident in Monkstown, and his family and friends, and for members of the various emergency services.