Remembering the Rev. Harry Cronin, playwright, author, director of Berkeley’s Holy Cross Center

Cronin, 87, worked in Berkeley from 1998 to 2000 and also taught at the Graduate Theological Union.

The Rev. Harry Cornelius Cronin, Nov. 12, 1935 – April 7, 2022

The Rev. Harry Cornelius Cronin. Credit: Congregation of Holy Cross

The Rev. Harry C. Cronin, 87, died at Holy Cross House, in Notre Dame, Indiana, on April 7, 2022, after a short illness.

Cronin was born on Nov. 12, 1935 in Denver, Colorado, the only child of Harry and Marguerite (Gaffy) Cronin, who preceded him in death. After graduating from Cathedral High School in 1953, Cronin entered the Old College program at the University of Notre Dame. A year later he went to Sacred Heart Novitiate in Jordan, Minnesota, where he made first vows on Aug. 16, 1955. In 1958, he graduated from the University of Notre Dame with a bachelor’s in philosophy. In 1962, he earned a master’s in theology from Holy Cross College in Washington, D.C. and was ordained a Holy Cross priest in Denver on May 26 of that same year.

After ordination, Cronin spent a year at Notre Dame in the pastoral apprenticeship program, and then went on to study at the University of Minnesota, earning a doctorate in theater arts in 1968. From 1968-78, he was playwright-in-residence at the University of Portland in Oregon, and later director of its theater for four years until 1982. From 1983-86, he was associate pastor at St. Francis Xavier Parish in Burbank, California, before being assigned to Campus Ministry at Notre Dame High School in Sherman Oaks until 1991. In 1991, he moved to the Los Angeles area where he served as a parish priest, high school chaplain and hospital chaplain for the Veteran’s Administration for the next seven years.

In 1998 he moved to the Bay Area, where he began teaching classes in religious drama and film at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley. In 2001, he became the director of Holy Cross Center in Berkeley, where he stayed until moving into Holy Cross House in Notre Dame in 2020.

Cronin received the “James H. Mitchell Memorial Award” for playwriting when he graduated from the University of Notre Dame. He was awarded a McKnight Foundation Graduate Theatre Fellowship at the Tyrone Guthrie Theatre in Minneapolis. He was awarded a fellowship by the National Endowment for the Arts in 1982, and was a long-time member of the Ensemble Studio Theatre in Los Angeles. He has directed a few plays over the years, but he is most known as a playwright. His one-man play called Memoirs of Jesus was produced by the Matrix Theatre in Los Angeles and was the recipient of two Los Angeles Drama-Logue awards and his one-man play called My Will and My Life won a Best of Fringe Award at the San Francisco Fringe Festival in 2019. His book, Eugene O’Neill, Irish and American was published by Arno Press.

The funeral mass will be at 6:30 a.m. Pacific Time on Wednesday, April 13, at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Notre Dame. You may watch via livestream.

Burial will be in the community cemetery at Notre Dame. Kaniewski Funeral Home, South Bend, is in charge of the arrangements.

Memorial contributions in support of the mission and ministries of the Congregation of Holy Cross can be made online.