Quezon City 06 January 2016 –
In a warm and loving ceremony, the RP-Province dedicated the Centennial Hall to the memory of one of its missionary in the person of Fr. Conrado “Condring” De La Cruz. The hall, a venue for missionary exchange, formation and information, has been functioning since the Centennial Celebration of the CICM arrival in the Philippines (1907-2007). The decision to the dedicate this building to the memory of Fr. Condring is based on the witness of life he has given to the mission to the point of losing his life to the kingdom of God.
Among the participants were CICM confreres, ICM sisters and family members of Fr. Condring. Towards the end of the blessing and the unveiling of the mark, everyone joined in one voice, singing one of the favourite songs of Fr. Conrad “Bridge over troubled water”.
Bellow is a reflection of Doctor Jeff Centeno during the ceremony of dedication:
The word “martyr” has taken on new meanings. It originally meant a witness to the Christian faith and who suffered death in defense of the same religious convictions as shown by the early Christians. But the word “martyr” also describes a person who fights for the promotion of social justice. So, martyrdom involves “giving-up” one’s life, that is, dying, as well as “giving” one’s life, that is, dedicating one’s everyday life, to the practice and realization of Christian principles. Either way, to be a martyr implies a life spent for something higher than one’s interest, which is only possible in love. In the words of Pope Francis: “A martyr is a brother, a sister, who accompanies us in faith.” As exemplars of faith, martyrs inspire us to grow more in our love for Christ. The love of Christ impels us to cheerfully reach out to those in need.
Missionaries who are called to leave everything for the sake of God’s Kingdom are martyrs by orientation. The CICM document Kindling the fire (1974, 109) captures it very lucidly: “To be a missionary means to put oneself at the service of the future promised in Christ: gradually to transform our world so that it may grow to the measure of the Kingdom of God.” Indeed, a just society measures up to the vision of the Kingdom of God.
Today, we honor the memorial martyrdom of the Fr Conrado Dela Cruz: CICM missionary, freedom fighter, and social justice advocate. By gathering in his memory today, he is very much alive in our midst.
Fr Conrado’s sweet smile on that iconic picture taken in his parish in Guatemala says it all: he was a missionary who experienced the “joy of the Gospel,” for which he ultimately offered his life.
True to his name “Conrado (courageous)” + “dela Cruz (of the cross),” Fr Conrado was really a courageous witness to the cross.
* A reflection on the solemn occasion of the dedication of the CICM Provincial Mission Hall to the memory of Fr Conrado dela Cruz, CICM, 6 January 2016.