Current Ministry Location: Central Pacific
Sister Aurora de la Cruz was born in Raniag, Ramon, Isabela, Philippines. She first met the Maryknoll Sisters who served as principals and deans of La Salette Elementary, High School and College where she had studied. Inspired by the joyful missionary spirit of the Sisters, she dreamed of becoming a Maryknoll missionary After graduating with a Bachelor’s Degree in Education from La Salette College (now La Salette University) and working for a few years as a high school math and science teacher at La Salette High School in Santiago, Isabela, and at Maryknoll High School in Quezon City, she happily joined the Maryknoll Sisters in New York in 1974.
After completing two years of religious training and obtaining her Master of Arts Degree in Religious Studies from the Maryknoll Seminary in Ossining, NY, Sister Aurora was assigned to the Central Pacific Region in 1976. There she taught math and science subjects to students at St. Ann School in Kaneohe, at Maryknoll High School in Honolulu, and later, at St. Anthony Junior/Senior High School in Maui.
Immediately after making her final vows in 1981, Sister Aurora departed for the Marshall Islands, where due to the lack of teachers she not only taught math and science but all other high school subjects at Assumption High School on Majuro. During her 12 years in the Marshall Islands, she served for a few years as the principal of Assumption High School, where she initiated the school’s successful accreditation by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC). Assumption High School holds the distinction of being the very first school in the Marshall Islands to be accredited by WASC. It was at this time that she and Maryknoll faculty member Ted Stepp pioneered the annual summer mission outreach of Maryknoll School in Honolulu to Majuro, Marshall Islands. From the early 1990’s until the present, Maryknoll students from Honolulu spend three weeks every summer helping incoming freshmen students at Assumption High School improve their English and Math skills.
After her mission work in the Marshall Islands, from 1993 – 1997 Sister Aurora was called by the Congregation to give mission awareness talks in churches and schools in the western United States from Alaska to Texas. Her new ministry required a great deal of long distance driving and living among those who warmly welcomed strangers in their midst. It was during this time that she became critically aware of the many challenges faced by immigrants, especially Hispanics on the West Coast. This awareness led her to embrace another aspect of missionary work–that of “welcoming and serving the strangers in our midst.” From 1997 – 2004, she worked at Catholic Charities Hawaii, serving immigrants, refugees, Pacific Islanders, and the homeless population in Hawaii as an immigration specialist and, later, as an employment specialist, helping people find and maintain jobs to support themselves and their families.
The Congregation called Sister Aurora again in early 2005 to do mission awareness work, this time in the East Coast. She initially coordinated the Mission Awareness Office, but due to the lack of mission promoters, she herself moved on to giving mission talks in churches and schools. Her next involvement was coordinating the Congregation’s Immigration Services Office, responding to the immigration needs of Maryknoll Sisters who come from other countries. She did this until December 2012. Prior to returning to the Central Pacific Region in July 2013 Sister Aurora helped out in the Eden Office, which serves the pastoral needs of the sick, frail and elderly Sisters at the Maryknoll Sisters Center in New York.
She is presently working in the Immigration Office of Catholic Charities Hawaii; assisting clients who come from many countries around the world with their immigration related needs and other needs as they arise.