Msgr. Cruz Expresses Thanks for His 'Cuban Refugee' Journey
The episcopal ordination for Bishop-elect Cruz is scheduled for Monday, Sept. 8, at the Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart, Newark.
"Bishop-elect Cruz is wellknown and highly regarded by the priests and people of this archdiocese-not only for his extensive involvement in ministry to the Spanish-speaking, but also for his deep and strong commitment to the health and the needs of the poor," Archbishop Myers said.
"In leadership roles in chaplain service and hospital ministry, he has served the needs of people in the archdiocese at their most vulnerable moments," he continued. "Throughout his life as a priest, Bishop-elect Cruz has continued to provide the very real presence of Our Lord at a time when it is most needed. We know God will enrich our Archdiocese and the Church with the blessing of Bishopelect Cruz's episcopal ministry for many years to come."
"It is with a grateful heart and deep humility that I stand before you today, as I have been named by Our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, auxiliary bishop to you, Archbishop Myers," an emotional Bishop-elect Cruz said. "Although I have spent more years in America than in my homeland of Cuba, in my heart, I am grateful to be a Cuban and to be known as a Cuban refugee. As a refugee, I learned that everything is a gift, a gift that comes from God's loving hands.
"By Divine Providence I am deeply moved that in this audience today sits a nun, a Daughter of Charity of Saint Vincent de Paul, who is visiting me for medical assistance, and who knew me when I was a child in Cuba," he said. "At that time she was a novice, and for more than 30 years she has been the cook of that nursing home where I attended to the priests as they brought Holy Communion to the sick of the Hospital. It was this religious community that fed me every day so that I would not go to school hungry. It was her superior, the saintly Sister Monica Cabodevilla, who touched my childhood so deeply as she prepared me for the sacrament of Holy Communion in the pharmacy of that nursing home. Only as an adult have I come to appreciate the many sacrifices this community endured in order to give witness to the Gospel by serving the poor in Cuba.
"During my childhood in Cuba, I was able to witness the community of sisters gathering in church to pray the three o'clock prayer," he recalled. "At that hour, they knelt down and held in their hands a crucifix, and the prayer began: 'I adore you, my Divine Savior Jesus Christ for having rescued me.'"
Bishop-elect Cruz was ordained a priest for service in the Archdiocese of Newark on May 31, 1980. He was the first Cubanborn priest ordained in the archdiocese. Born in Havana on Dec. 2, 1953, he and his parents, Juan and Caridad Cruz, came to the United States in 1966, spending a year in Florida before moving to Union City.
A graduate of Seton Hall University (SHU), South Orange, Bishop-elect Cruz studied for the priesthood at Immaculate Conception Seminary, Darlington. He holds a bachelor's degree in philosophy and a master's degree in Sacred Scripture from SHU.
Following his ordination in 1980, Fr. Cruz served as a parochial vicar at Holy Rosary Parish in Elizabeth. In 1982, he was appointed a parochial vicar at the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart. In 1986, he was appointed to the Archdiocesan Vocations Committee by then-Archbishop Theodore McCarrick. From 1991 to 1993, he served as dean of Deanery 19, Northern Newark.
In 2000, Pope John Paul II bestowed upon Fr. Cruz the honorary title "Chaplain to His Holiness," with the title monsignor.
In 1995 he became a chaplain at Saint Michael's Medical Center and later was named director of the archdiocese's Office of Pastoral Care in 2003. In this position, he directed the full range of Catholic chaplains and pastoral care services at all hospitals and medical centers within the archdiocese.
Three years ago Archbishop Myers named Msgr. Cruz vice president for mission and ministry for Catholic Health and Human Services, the healthcare and social services arm of the archdiocese.
As a young man, Msgr. Cruz spent eight years as a member of the emergency room staff of Saint James Hospital in Newark, and he has a background in neuropathology.
He has served as a member of the institutional review board of several New Jersey hospitals, as a member of the Ethics Committee of Saint Michael's Medical Center, and as a member of the New Jersey Catholic Conference's Committee on Ethics, and is a lecturer in neuropathology at UMDNJ-New Jersey Medical School, Newark.