Archbishop Cruz laid to rest in Dagupan
DAGUPAN CITY—When the quake-hit St. John Cathedral here was being restored in mid-1990s, Archbishop Emeritus Oscar Cruz had told reporters touring the church ruins that he wanted to be buried there someday.
At 10 a.m. on Friday, the former cathedral, now called Santuario de San Juan Evangelista (Shrine of St. John the Evangelist), became the final resting place of the longtime leader of the Archdiocese of Lingayen-Dagupan.
Around 90 bishops and priests were among the hundreds of mourners who paid their last respects to Cruz, who once served as head of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP).
Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas, who succeeded Cruz in 2009 and was also a former CBCP president, led the funeral Mass and interment rites.
Cruz, 85, succumbed to multiple organ failure due to critical new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) infection on Aug. 26. His body was immediately cremated but the urn was placed inside a white casket when it was brought to the archdiocese for the wake and burial.
Paying tribute to Cruz, Villegas described the prelate as “a saint, but a different kind of saint.”
“He was a saint who rallied with us at the plaza, in picket lines, against illegal gambling and prostitution, championing social justice and the rights of women,” Villegas said, adding that “such acts will not go unrewarded in heaven.”
Cruz was instrumental in the restoration of the shrine when he was the archbishop of Lingayen-Dagupan. He was assigned to the archdiocese in July 1991 when Dagupan City was reeling from the 1990 Luzon earthquake, which left the St. John Cathedral and the chancery (archbishop’s palace) in ruins. Cruz retired on Sept. 9, 2009.
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