THE government of the city of Zamboanga as well as the Catholic faithful are deeply saddened by the death of the Archbishop of Zamboanga, 74 years old.
Dela Cruz died around 11:05 pm on Friday December 10 in a private hospital where he was taken due to an “irregular heartbeat”.
“Our most sincere condolences to the parents, friends, the Catholic community and the family of the Archdiocese of Zamboanga of the late Archbishop of La Cruz,” said Mayor Maria Isabelle Climaco-Salazar.
“He has suffered from his illness for a long time and is now relieved to enjoy eternal peace in paradise,” the Archdiocese of Zamboanga said in a statement.
“We offer our prayers to God for the soul of Archbishop Romy, for his family and we pray for our Archdiocese of Zamboanga”, he added.
Br. Armand Aquino, Chancellor of the Archdiocese of Zamboanga, said Dela Cruz also had very low blood pressure and a slight fever.
The Archdiocese of Zamboanga is currently under the leadership of its Auxiliary Bishop, Moises Cuevas, who was appointed Apostolic Administrator “sede plena” by Pope Francis on August 11, while Dela Cruz was recovering from a stroke.
Dela Cruz died two days after the 49th anniversary of his priestly ordination. He was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Cotabato on December 8, 1972.
He was the fourth Archbishop of Zamboanga and in the seventh year of his accession to the metropolitan see of Zamboanga.
Dela Cruz was born on June 24, 1947 in Balasan, Iloilo.
On December 17, 1987, Pope John Paul II appointed Dela Cruz coadjutor bishop of the municipality of Isabela, in the province of Basilan. His episcopal ordination took place on March 16, 1988.
On January 28, 1989, Dela Cruz became bishop-prelate of Isabela, Basilan, succeeding the Claretian bishop José Maria Querexeta Mendizabal.
He was appointed coadjutor bishop of San José de Antique on January 8, 2001 and installed on April 3, 2001. He then became bishop of San José de Antique on March 16, 2002, succeeding Bishop Raul José Quimpo Martirez.
Pope Benedict XVI appointed him Bishop of Kidapawan on May 14, 2008.
On March 15, 2014, Pope Francis appointed Dela Cruz Archbishop of Zamboanga. The latter replaced Archbishop Romulo Valles who was appointed to the see of Davao in 2011.
Dela Cruz is beloved by the Catholic faithful in the province of Basilan as he held his own despite threats from the atrocious militants, the bandits of Abu Sayyaf, in 2000. (SunStar Zamboanga)