PERSONAL STATEMENT OF ALLAN FRANCIS CRUZ
Marriage and family life is ministry! As a ministry it is purposed to safeguard and advocate the love of Christ to all of mankind. The family is therefore a conduit of God’s Grace and Mercy; and through the total, faithful, fruitful, and free love of husband and wife, this ordinary and time-immemorial institution is transformed. In an extraordinary way it becomes a ministry inwardly, through the relationship of husband and wife and their relationship together with their progeny; and outwardly, for others in their community and those beyond. My family and I have discovered that we are not an isolated group of persons in society, but are purposed to reach out of ourselves as family and reveal authentically a communion of persons to all those we encounter.
My wife and I have been married for over 11 years, and throughout our marriage, we have encountered the joys and trials of married life. In 2010, my wife and I moved from Toronto, Ontario Canada to Toledo, Ohio USA to pursue her dream of becoming a pediatric physician. We mutually discerned that this is where God was calling us and our one-year old son to be at that time. As my wife pursued her residency, I engaged in a new career path: from a career in finance to a vocational career in ministry with the Church. We decided that it would be paramount if I stayed home with our son to care for him while I worked on completing a Bachelor of Theology. By the end of my wife’s three-year residency, we were blessed with two more children, and in 2013 we moved to Dayton, Ohio where my wife obtained her very first position as a clinical pediatrician. During that time, I completed my Bachelor of Theology and searched for a program where I could continue my academic studies in marriage and family. In 2015, I was accepted into the Master of Arts in Pastoral Studies program at Holy Apostles College and Seminary in Cromwell, Connecticut.
Today our family has grown to a family of seven. As a stay-at-home-dad for eight years, I have learned many things about caring for a family. I have obtained the parental pragmatic-knowledge of effective ways to change the diaper of a wiggly baby seven times a day without making a mess; answer my children’s multiple questions about the universe, cars, horses and icky insects; pay all the bills on time; appropriately convince a two-year old that ice cream for lunch is not an option; motivate a ten-year old that he can make a lay-up with his non-dominant hand by showing him how; embrace patience and stimulate the communication of feelings to a child who resorts to temper tantrums; prepare a hot meal for the whole family; give all the little one’s baths while militantly instilling dental hygiene all before bedtime prayers. With God’s Love and Grace, I have also learned the fundamental importance of promoting and engaging in family rituals that nourish meaning, intimacy and virtue in our daily family life. As a family we have discerned that rituals of working, playing, talking and praying with one another are indispensable to our family life and should be regularly and intentionally exercised. Cleaning the house as a family; playing tag; having one-on-one talk-time with one another; and praying together every morning before our day starts and at night before it ends.
These nourishing rituals echo from the conjugal love that God has purposed my wife and I to mutually share with one another. The conjugal love that we embody as husband and wife emanates from the Eucharist: the source and summit of our marriage and family life. However, even a joy-filled marriage and family-life are not immune from pain and sorrow. As a family, we have discovered that suffering and joy are purposed to complement one another in a unique way. So unique, that it permits us to elevate our heart, soul, mind and strength with the suffering and joy of Christ. My wife and I have learned in our marriage and family that selfless sacrifice is tantamount to married love. For married love is immersed in divine love. Meaning, the authentic sacrifices we have made and are making for one another and our children are a living witness of Christ’s love for the Church. Every sleepless night when one or more members of the family are ill; every sad time when grandma and grandpa must return to Canada after a brief visit; and every moment when a member of the family is struggling in loving God, we find ourselves, by the Grace of God, carrying one another’s burdens by imitating the person of Christ.
All the sacrificial ways of displaying sincere physical, emotional and spiritual support in our family are substantial to strengthening family communion. Each marriage and family have their own God-given charisms and it is of great value that families discern what these charisms are and how they can share them with others. In our family, we are reciprocally discerning the charisms of encouragement, hospitality, knowledge, mercy, missionary, pastoring, teaching and wisdom. In our current parish we are establishing a group of families that meet monthly at our home to pray, reflect and encourage one another. Husbands, wives and children all gather for the “Home 2 Home” program my family and I have developed. We strongly advocate the powerful ministry that is inherent in the heart of every Christian family. As a family, we have discovered that inviting families into our home is a meaningful and intimate way of evangelization. Sharing a meal while fellowshipping; nurturing joy as the children from different families play together; cultivating virtue; inspiring a desire for knowledge of Church’s teachings; encouraging sacramental exercise and spiritual communion with one’s spouse, family, the Church and with God, are all ways of helping the family to know, serve and love God.
In July of 2018, our long-awaited Green Cards from the USA had finally arrived. With joyous and faith-filled celebration to God’s goodness and kindness in our lives, we as a family have discerned that God has laid out a new path for us to journey upon. This path holds with it the same quality and perseverance that began when my wife and I were married in the Church: our marriage and family is and will be a life-long ministry inwardly and outwardly. The spiritual riches that my family and I have received from other families we have encountered throughout our lives are the same spiritual riches that I long to share for the good of the Church and the whole world. As I look forward to this next phase in my vocational career in serving the Church, I am excited to embrace it with the love and support of my wife and children.