Pangasinan priest is new Baguio bishop

June 21, 2024 - 2:41 PM
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Bishop-elect Rafael Cruz of Baguio. (CBCP News)

Pope Francis has appointed Fr. Rafael Cruz as the new bishop of Baguio.

Bishop-elect Cruz, 64, is a priest of the Archdiocese of Lingayen-Dagupan, and currently the parish priest of St. Ildephonse Parish in Malasiqui, Pangasinan.

He is also one of the vicar foranes in the archdiocese, which is led by Archbishop Socrates Villegas.

The appointment was announced in the Vatican at 12 noon on Thursday (6pm in the Philippines).

The diocese has been “sede vacante” since May 2023 when Archbishop Victor Bendico assumed the leadership of the Archdiocese of Capiz.

During the vacancy, the ecclesiastical jurisdiction has been under the care of Fr. Roland Buyagan as diocesan administrator.

Born in Mapandan, Pangasinan, Cruz studied philosophy at the San Pablo Regional College Seminary in Baguio.

After finishing his theology studies at the Immaculate Conception School of Theology in Vigan City, he was ordained priest in September 1985.

The bishop-elect also holds a masters degree in counselling psychology and a doctorate of philosophy in clinical psychology from the Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU).

He then did his residency training at Loyola University of Chicago and the Carl Jung Institute in Evanston, Illinois.

In the Lingayen-Dagupan archdiocese, Cruz was the parish priest of Saints Peter and Paul in Calasiao, Pangasinan, from 1985 to 1987.

He was also a visiting professor at the Loyola School of Theology in Quezon City from 1999 to 2004, a spiritual director and psychologist advisor for seminarians in Batanes, and a teacher at the Center for Family Ministries at ADMU in 2004.

From 2011 to 2018, he was a spiritual director and teacher at the Mary Help of Christians High School Seminary in Binmaley, Pangasinan, and the Mary Help of Christians College Seminary in Dagupan City.

Since 2022, he has been a member of the Permanent Committee for the Protection of Minors of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines.

He is also a visiting lecturer at the Mary Help of Christians Theology Seminary in San Fabian, Pangasinan, the Immaculate Conception School of Theology in Vigan City, and the Recoletos Theology Seminary in Quezon City.