Holy rosary

Visiting homeland, Holy Rosary staff member enlists and dies from COVID-19

César Cruz in a place that is familiar to him: next to the pipe organ of the Holy Rosary in the choir gallery. COURTESY OF SAINT-ROSARY PARISH

About 50 people gathered at the Holy Rosary in Minneapolis after learning that their friend and parish music minister, Cesar Cruz, has died after being struck down by COVID-19 while visiting family at the Guatemala.

“I can see immense sadness on their faces,” said Juan Cuzco, director of religious education for the parish, recalling that first day on May 4 of a novena for Cruz – a Latin American tradition of praying a rosary. for nine days “for the rest of his soul.

Cruz, 48, diagnosed and treated for COVID-19 while in Guatemala, died in a hospital on May 3. He had served as a volunteer in the ministry of music and youth, and as an employee in several parishes at various times throughout the archdiocese. He flew to Guatemala to be with family members during Holy Week – relatives he had not seen for several years.

Caesar Cruz

Besides his work as youth director for the Holy Rosary Church, César Cruz was also director of Ándale After School for the Centro Guadalupano of the parish.

Tammy Krause Cruz said she met her future husband when she was in her mid-twenties visiting Guatemala as a Claretian lay missionary and Caesar was studying accounting. “He was a musician and I was in charge of finding music for masses,” she said. “I would seek his help from several different groups. Their paths also crossed when she translated letters there for a Christian foundation.

One thing Krause Cruz liked about her husband was his outgoing nature. “He could command a crowd,” she said. “A lot of it was because he was a musician, but a lot of it was because of his personality and he could tell jokes.”

The couple married in Guatemala and moved to the United States when Tammy was expecting their first child, Ellie, now 23. They also have two sons, Marco, 18, and Lucas, 17.

“He left his family, he left his friends,” Krause Cruz said of her husband’s decision to live in the United States. “He quit his career because being an accountant in Guatemala is totally different from being in the United States.” Her husband’s initial work in Minnesota ranged from painting houses to working in Spanish immersion schools.

Cruz worked with a youth group at Holy Rosary and encouraged members to stay in the Church, Cuzco said. Cruz was charismatic and had many gifts. “He was telling us to see our challenges through the eyes of others,” to understand the other’s point of view, he said.

Cuzco declared that Cruz was humble, open to suggestions on his music without getting offended and “always available”. One of the busiest people Cuzco knows, Cruz has always agreed to help with something else.

Cuzco said Cruz played music on one weekday mass and three on weekends. He could play 10 instruments, he said. “He was very good. He had great joy in being a child of God.

Anne Attea, pastoral associate at Ascension in Minneapolis, has known Cruz since 1998, when he volunteered there with music and was later hired to work in the music ministry and coordinate faith training. He was the musician at the time of the 11:30 am Spanish Ascension Mass, she said.

“When I was director of the Latino ministry for the Archdiocese, I worked with him during those early years and always appreciated his truly joyful presence, his love for music,” said Attea. “He’s accompanied… lots and lots of special events over the years.

“She was just a wonderful person who was always looking to bring out the best in people,” Attea said. “From the people I know at Holy Rosary, he was always willing to go the extra mile for the kids in his group. He was someone who included kids that others thought there might be a problem with. And there was never a problem that seemed too intimidating for him.

Attea said that Cruz not only served in youth ministry, but prepared the youth to continue to be involved in the Church. “And he would incorporate them into the ministry of peers,” she said. “He always wanted to put his donations at the service of the community. He had a great love for music, for ministry, for people.

Krause Cruz said that her husband was in the service of several parishes in the Archdiocese and that “they were so wonderful with him”.

“He helped the parishes,” she said, “but as an immigrant to this country trying to feel in his place, there were so many people on the way who just grabbed his little heart and communicated with him and made him feel special. And that also helped on the home front, because he felt needed. “

Ginger Graham, administrator of Holy Rosary parish and executive director of its outreach center, Centro Guadalupano, said Cruz had worked for the parish for 10 years, but was part of the community and made music for over 20 years. . In addition to music, he has served in worship and faith programs, she said.

“He’s had a huge impact on our youth in particular,” Graham said, “right in our families in general, running religious programs, running music programs and helping them build love and faith. in the community. “

A funeral mass for Cruz will be held at 7 p.m. on May 12 at the Holy Rosary. COVID restrictions will limit in-person attendance, but mass will be broadcast live from the parish’s Facebook page.

Key words: César Cruz, COVID-19, Guatemala, Saint Rosary, Juan Cuzco, Tammy Krause Cruz

Category: Featured, Local News