New Pastor at OLPH installed by New Bishop
by Paul Morrissey SM
Father Cruz is a native of Mexico City. Born on May 7, 1952, he is the eldest of nine siblings. He made his Marist profession in 1985, and was ordained a priest in 1988. After ordination Father Cruz served in campus ministry and in parishes in Mexico.
In 1989 he began his priestly ministry in the USA, in parishes in California, Georgia and Texas. After serving as Pastor of San Felipe de Jesús and Superior of the Marist Community at Brownsville, Texas, Héctor participated in a renewal program in San Antonio, Texas, four months before arriving in Tampa. Héctor wrote to the parishioners and friends of Our Lady of Perpetual Help: "I am humbly soliciting your prayers, so I can be for you a zealous pastor, serving the Church in the spirit of Mary."
Bishop Parkes, supposedly the tallest bishop in the world (at six-foot-eight inches tall), was kind and caring in his remarks to the parishioners about the importance of the installation day, the respect and cooperation parishioners owe to Father Héctor, and the admiration and affection he had for the recent improvements to the church and those yet to come. In his homily the bishop spoke of the importance of our daily relationship with God and the amount of time we spend in fostering that relationship, particularly in light of the beginning of Lent.
Assisting in the ceremonies was Father Carl J. "Buster" Melchior, who served as M.C. for the events. Currently the Director of Vocations for the Diocese, and Chaplain to the Tampa Bay Legatus, Father Melchior was ordained a priest in 2009. Interestingly, prior to his seminary studies, he was an assistant equipment manager for the NFL's Tampa Bay Buccaneers and had also worked in sports medicine for almost six years before entering the seminary.
Marists present at the Installation Mass were: Raymond Coolong, Roland Lajoie (Pastor Emeritus), Paul Morrissey and John Beckley. Ray and Paul signed as the official witnesses of the installation.
At the end of the Mass, Bishop Parkes asked the parishioners to do three things for the new Pastor of OLPH. "Pray for Father Hector. Support Father Hector. And love Father Héctor."
On his part, Father Héctor asked the parishioners for their kind cooperation, especially in the many service ministries within the parish, and warmly invited their help with the support of the parish and the diocese.