By Theresa Carson
On Aug. 3, six young men professed religious vows of poverty, chastity and obedience at Techny, Ill., and became members of the Society of the Divine Word. One has chosen the path of brotherhood formation. The other five are seminarians. All six will begin coursework at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago in the fall. Today, we introduce you to Cruz Enrique Colunga.
As a teenager, Cruz Enrique Colunga, 26, enjoyed traveling and working on construction sites with his dad during the summers. Sometimes, the entire family of eight would go; other times, it was just the two of them.
Cruz did not take that quality time for granted. Born in Zacatecas, Mexico, Cruz is the third of six children. When he was little, he rarely saw his father who spent months at a time working in the United States to support the family.
Cruz said his family was poor but thanks to his parents they were never wanting. When he was age 12, the family moved to Liberty, Texas. The transition tested him. He suffered homesickness but learning the English language helped to sooth the isolation he sometimes felt.
School taught conversational English, and to become proficient in writing, he relied on auto-spell and asked others to correct his grammar. His focus on his studies paid off in an associate degree in accounting from Lee College in Baytown, Texas.
Over the years, he volunteered at his parishes in Mexico and the United States. Often, people asked him if he ever considered the priesthood. Finally, he thought if one more person asked, then he would be open to visiting a seminary. One more person did.
A Divine Word Missionary told him, “I feel there’s something special in you.”
Cruz graduated from Divine Word College with a bachelor’s degree and devoted this past year to discernment through the novitiate program.
“I have learned a lot more about myself,” he said. “I have learned to be present in the moment and to make time for silence. That quiet time has increased my desire to deepen my relationship with God and to share the love that God gives to me.”
He said, “Something attracts me to working with poor people. To be with them, share in struggles and suffering and to share God despite difficulties, to encourage them and show them that there’s someone who cares for them.”
God sustains him, he said. To honor the help he received as a youth, Cruz has been giving back by tutoring students at the Holy Spirit Missionary Sister’s Life Learning Center in Wheeling, Ill.
In the fall, Cruz will enroll at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago to continue the path to the priesthood.