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Missionary priests arrive to serve Hispanic community

Updated: Feb 22, 2021

The following story appeared in the Feb. 12 issue of the Idaho Catholic Register.

From left, Father Jesús Cruz and Father Moisés Urzúa of the Missionary Servants of the Word, who began serving in eastern Idaho last week. (ICR photo/Vero Gutiérrez)

By Vero Gutierrez

Idaho Catholic Register

IDAHO FALLS – The newest priests to serve in the Diocese of Boise arrived here on Jan. 27, eager to experience a snowfall for the first time. They were disappointed, but not for long. A week later on the way to their new home in Idaho Falls they saw their first snowfall. Serving in eastern Idaho, they will become accustomed to it.

Father Moisés Urzúa Torres and Father Jesús Cruz Hernández belong to a religious order called Missionary Servants of the Word. Both come from Mexico, where winter does not include snow even on its coldest days.

They have been commissioned by Bishop Peter Christensen to support the diocese’s Eastern Deanery, which includes Pocatello, Idaho Falls and the rural communities surrounding them, ministering in particular to a Hispanic community that now comprises more than half the Church in Idaho. Both priests will be based at Christ the King Parish in Idaho Falls.

According to Father Urzúa, the priests will support the pastoral work of the parishes, including offering Bible studies, weekend retreats and other opportunities for Christian formation. “The purpose is for the faithful to be formed so that they too can share an apostolate within the Church,” he said. “We want the Hispanic faithful to be committed and, as a fruit of seeing more Christian families in Idaho, we will see vocations to the consecrated life increase.”

Father Moisés Urzúa Torres, 43, was born in Guadalajara in a Catholic family where the grandparents led the family in praying the Rosary every day. He is the fifth of eight children who were in his family, including five brothers and two sisters. Although he was not part of any youth group in his parish, he was inclined to prayer from childhood and would visit the Blessed Sacrament on his own initiative.

In 1999, as a young man, he traveled to California. Focused on work and earning money, he stopped participating in the Church.

However, at age 24, he did become involved in a youth group for the first time. It was while attending youth group that he heard a talk from Mother Eva of the Missionary Servants of the Word who came to his California parish to give a talk on missionary life. “Her experience impacted me,” Father Urzúa said. At the end of the talk, members of the religious order invited him to participate in a vocational retreat where they shared their concern for missions and the consecrated life.

But, Father Urzúa was not yet convinced. He was also considering the vocation to marriage. He began a courtship that became serious enough that he and his girlfriend began making wedding plans. Because the call to consecrated life still lingered within him, he knew he had to make a decision. After a period of reflection, listening to the advice of his spiritual directors and having a strong encounter with the Lord, he decided that the best way to serve the Lord was in the consecrated life. He said yes to the invitation of the Missionary Servants of the Word, whom he already knew well.

Father Urzúa’s training began with basic instruction in the gospel, primarily through biblical courses. Then, the study progressed to include more doctrinal training on the sacraments and the Church.

He then dedicated a year to missionary service, followed by a request to enter the community to begin training for religious life.

He spent two years as a postulant and they one year in the novitiate to study the charism of the community. Then came 2 ½ years of a stage called “desert’ where they delve deeper into their personal spirituality and then four years of study in theology.

After 13 years of training, Father Urzúa was ordained a priest in June 2019, in Cuautitlán, near Mexico City. Among his favorite hobbies are playing basketball, gardening, hiking, reading and cooking.

Father Jesús Cruz Hernández, 32, was born in San Luis Potosí. The youngest of five children, he has a brother and three sisters, one of whom is also a member of the Missionary Servants of the Word.

Seeing the joy of his sister, Bianca, who entered the Missionary Servants of the Word six years before he did, had a large influence on Father Cruz’s decision to also choose the consecrated life.

His entire family is devoutly Catholic, leading Father Cruz to maintain closeness with his faith from an early age. His parents were members of the local Charismatic Renewal group. He noticed an awakening to his vocation as he accompanied his parents to some of their meetings. Still his parents “never imagined that any of their children would consecrate their lives to God,” Father Cruz said.

Father Cruz was initially attracted to the study of psychology, but after participating in a number of retreats with young people, he began to feel attracted to the life of the missionaries. They were always cheerful, he said, and he liked their preaching.

Once he had decided to pursue the consecrated life, Father Cruz considered a number of religious orders. In October 2006, he participated in a vocational retreat and decided to live with the community of the Missionary Servants of the Word.

Initially, Father Cruz intended to dedicate only one year to living in community. However, that experience was so meaningful that he renewed for another two years. During those two years, he visited different parts of Mexico and eventually made the decision to begin formation for religious life.

After his first two years of training with the Missionary Servants of the Word, Father Cruz was still not sure that he should enter this particular religious order. With the help of his formation directors and much prayer, he made the decision to choose this order.

He was ordained a priest of the Missionary Servants of the Word in June 2019.

His first assignment was to come to the Diocese of Boise, but the pandemic forced a considerable delay. This is Father Cruz’s first visit to the United States.

His interests are varied. He enjoys soccer, hiking, reading, working with farm animals and sewing.

If you enjoyed this story and would like to read more like it, please consider buying a subscription to the Idaho Catholic Register. Your $20 yearly subscription also supports the work of the Diocese of Boise Communications Department, which includes not only the newspaper, but this website, social media posts and videos. You can subscribe here, or through your parish, or send a check to 1501 S. Federal Way, Boise, ID, 83705: or call 208-350-7554 to leave a credit card payment. Thank you, and God bless you.

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