Archbishop Romulo dela Cruz of Zamboanga died at the age of 74 past 11 o’clock in the evening on Friday, December 10, two days after the 49th anniversary of his priestly ordination.
“He has long suffered from his illness and is now given relief to enjoy eternal peace in heaven,” read an announcement from the Archdiocese of Zamboanga.
The prelate had reportedly suffered a stroke in the past year.
“We have been blessed by his fatherly guidance and love for the past seven years,” added the archdiocese.
Archbishop De la Cruz was born on June 24, 1947, in Balasan, Iloilo. He was ordained a priest on Dec. 8, 1972, and was appointed Coadjutor Bishop of Isabela de Basilan on December 17, 1987.
His episcopal ordination was on March 16, 1988. On Jan. 28, 1989, he became Bishop-Prelate of Isabela, Basilan (as its second bishop), succeeding Bishop Jose Maria Querexeta Mendizabal, CMF.
He was appointed Coadjutor Bishop of San Jose de Antique on Jan. 8, 2001, and installed on April 3, 2001.
Bishop Dela Cruz then became Bishop of San Jose de Antique (as its third bishop) on March 16, 2002, as the successor to Bishop Raul José Quimpo Martirez.
Pope Benedict XVI appointed him Bishop of Kidapawan, Cotabato, (as its fifth bishop) on May 14, 2008.
On March 15, 2014, Pope Francis appointed Bishop Dela Cruz as Archbishop of Zamboanga, taking over his predecessor Archbishop Romulo Valles who was appointed to the See of Davao in 2011.
Archbishop Dela Cruz was the principal consecrator and ordaining prelate to Bishop Leo Dalmao, CMF (2019, Ordinary for the Prelature of Isabela de Basilan) and Bishop Moises Cuevas (2020, Auxiliary Bishop for the Archdiocese of Zamboanga).
The prelate used to be member of the Episcopal Commission on Social Communications and Mass Media and vice chair of the Episcopal Office on Women of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines.