Fr Cronan Sherry was born in Ireland, in Foxford, County Mayo in 1919 and he was baptised and confirmed in the parish church there. After having been at school at the Cistercian College at Roscrea, he entered the community in 1936. He made his solemn profession as a Cistercian monk in 1941 and he was ordained to the priesthood in 1944. It wasn’t so long after that that thoughts of a new foundation began to be aired at Roscrea. The community had grown quite large in numbers and even though a foundation had already been made after the Second World War, there were requests coming from Australia and it seemed that the time had come to make a move in that direction.
Some years passed, but by 1953 the foundation was in the definite planning stages and when the property at Tarrawarra had been obtained and a group of monks named as the founders of the new community, it was Fr Cronan who was sent as Superior. He arrived with the main body of monks aboard the S.S. Esperance Bay on 31 October 1954. Two months later, the then Archbishop of Melbourne, Dr Daniel Mannix, blessed and opened the new Abbey.
It was in the first few years of the new community that Fr Cronan’s special gifts were of such inestimable importance in getting the Abbey established on a secure foundation. His warmth and personal charm, qualities which remained with him to his last days, were instrumental in making the Cistercian monks known to a wide range of people, both clergy and laity, in Melbourne. Fr Cronan returned to the mother-house in Ireland in 1959, leaving the young Abbey with great promise for the future. Twenty years later, he was delighted to return to Melbourne to join in the Silver Jubilee celebrations at Tarrawarra in 1979, and to renew his contacts with the people and the place which he had always loved so much. It was a blessing for him and for the community that he was then able to spend the last five years of his life in the community which he had begun. And somehow, it was very fitting that he should be laid to rest in the Abbey cemetery at Tarrawarra.
Large numbers of friends came to the Abbey for the last rites. At the Requiem Mass on the eve of the funeral, Archbishop Frank Little presided and at the funeral Mass itself on 12 March there were many visiting priests, both diocesan and religious, who concelebrated with the Abbot and the priest of the community. Bishop Arthur Fox presided.
When news of Fr Cronan’s failing condition was known to his family, one of his brothers, Dr Vincent Sherry with his wife Kathleen, set off from London where they live. Unfortunately, they arrived in Melbourne about ten hours after Fr Cronan had died. However, it was a great joy for us to have them here with us for the funeral. They were able to stay on with us for a few weeks afterwards.
(Tarrawarra Newsletter, April 1985)