I was born and raised in Pampanga, Philippines. I am the third of four children born to Severina and Virgilio Cruz. As a sickly child, I grew up in the care of my mother’s sisters, Aunt Leticia, with her husband Marciano, and Aunt Juanita. I remember that every summer vacation, they would take me back to my parent’s house to spend time with my family, with my brother, Neil, and two sisters, Minerva and Lourdes. After graduating high school, I joined the Mother of Good Counsel Seminary in our province. I was 17 years old, and I studied in the seminary for 4 years, until I was 21 years old. I continued my studies at Holy Angel University and graduated with a Degree in English. I had several work experiences. I worked as a voice talent for a local radio station. After a couple of months, I applied to a bank and got hired as a Financial Executive. That employment lasted for almost a year until I decided to look for a more financially stable opportunity. I ended up working in a casino for almost 6 years as a Dealer. Working in different work environment taught me a lot of life lessons, but they never filled my longing for the religious life. Being a priest was my first choice. Once again, I found myself searching a community to where I could continue my journey to priesthood. Eventually, God led me to the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary.
When did you first think that God might be calling you to be a priest?
I was 15 years old when I felt the call to priesthood. It started with silence. As one of our school’s representatives, I was invited to watch a stage play in the seminary. The moment I got there, I felt the stillness of the place, I felt peace. I told myself that one day I would be back to study in that place. That sense of peace I felt never left my memory. I prayed a lot and asked for guidance from school counselors and from my family. A year had passed, and I graduated from high school. I was ready to apply to the seminary, but my father did not approve of my desire to become a priest. He said I was not ready. He asked me to think about it for another year and if after a year I still felt the same desire, he would take me to the seminary himself. A year after, I talk to my father, and on that same day, we went together to the seminary for my application.
Why did you choose the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts?
The Congregation of the Sacred Hearts allowed me to continue my journey to priesthood. I feel blessed to be a part of a family where I can be and express who I am, with all my gifts and struggles, and grow closer to God. The Congregation’s charism, especially it’s family charism, attracted me the most. I am thankful for the acceptance and support I have received from the community ever since I was accepted.
Favorite hobbies and/or fun fact about yourself:
I love to sing Karaoke. A lot of times, I just burst into song. I also love disassembling and fixing devices like laptops and cellphones, although there are times when I could not put them back together.
Favorite Bible passage: John 15: 12-13
“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”
Your favorite saint: St. Damien of Molokai
St Damien’s life and works have greatly changed the way I perceive missionary life. His presence in the midst of the people with leprosy in Molokai made them realize the presence of God in their own sufferings.