Rev. Robert Ambrose Cross, 90, died on June 9, 2017 at Belmont Village Senior Living in Oak Park.
Born on Dec. 1, 1926 in Marion, Indiana, he was the youngest of 10 children. He attended St. Luke School for his primary education, went on to study at Quigley Preparatory Seminary in Chicago, and graduated from the University of St. Mary of the Lake/Mundelein Seminary with a bachelor’s degree in philosophy and theology. He also earned his Licentiate of Sacred Theology as well as a master’s degree in library science.
He was ordained into the priesthood on May 1, 1952, by Samuel Cardinal Stritch, Archbishop of Chicago, and celebrated his first Mass at St. Luke Parish in River Forest on May 4, 1952.
Fr. Cross served in the archdiocese in a number of different parochial roles. He was assistant pastor of St. Mary Parish in Lake Forest (1952-56) and went on to teach at Quigley Preparatory Seminary (1956-74; in 1967 he began teaching at Quigley South). Fr. Cross also served as assistant pastor at the St. Nicholas of Tolentine (1966-70) and the Sacred Heart Parishes (1970-74) in Chicago.
He was named pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Chicago (1974-82) and Ascension Parish in Oak Park. Fr. Cross became associate pastor of St. Cornelius Parish in Chicago (1988-93) and remained in that role at St. Frances of Rome Parish in Cicero (1993-95). He was appointed pastor emeritus of Ascension Parish in Oak Park in 1996 and continued in that role until his retirement.
Fr. Cross’ niece-in-law, Mary Catherine Meek, pastoral associate at Ascension Parish, remembers him as a motivated priest who cared about social justice issues.
“He was a people’s person who held feeding the hungry as one of his main concerns,” said Meek.
He was involved with several groups such as Clergy and Laity Concerned and the Hunger Fund. The Meek family had the opportunity to welcome Fr. Cross into their home when his health declined.
Fr. Bill Flaherty, a resident at Ss. Faith, Hope and Charity Parish and a classmate of Fr. Cross, played golf and went on vacation many times with Fr. Cross.
“He was a good priest, a highly respected priest, who loved liturgy. It was his way to worship the Lord,” said Fr. Flaherty.
Visitation was held on June 13 at St. Luke Parish in River Forest. Services will continue on Wednesday, June 14 with visitation beginning at 9:30 a.m. followed by the funeral Mass at 10:30 a.m. at Ascension Church, 801 S. East Ave. in Oak Park.
The Most Reverend Raymond Goedert, a classmate of Fr. Cross, will be the main celebrant of the Funeral Mass.