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Meet the 1,042-Year-Old Family With 12 Siblings, 1 in San Diego: They Hold a Guinness World Record

NBC San Diego logo NBC San Diego 4/16/2021 Marianne Kushi
a group of people posing for a photo © Provided by NBC San Diego

It's a bit overwhelming when you first meet the D'Cruz siblings, simply because there are so many of them. The numbers have gotten them some attention -- a title in the world-famous Guinness World Records.

There are 12 D'Cruz siblings, ranging in age from 75 to 97 years old.

If you add each of their ages, they total 1,042 years and 315 days. This number earned them the Guinness World Records certificate for the highest combined age with 12 living siblings on Dec. 15, 2020.

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Beryl Condillac, 88, told NBC 7 it was her nephew's idea to enter the competition.

With a chuckle, Condillac remembered her nephew giving her one important tip to win the record: "20 days, you've got to stay alive so then we could do it."

And so they did.

The D'Cruz children were born to Cecilia and Michael D'Cruz in Karachi, Pakistan. Twelve kids total, nine girls, three boys.

The lucky dozen eventually, as siblings do, started their own lives and moved to cities all over the world.

a person posing for the camera: Cecilia D'Cruz, mother of the 12 siblings who are members of Guinness World Records © Provided by NBC San Diego Cecilia D'Cruz, mother of the 12 siblings who are members of Guinness World Records a man wearing a suit and tie: Michael D'Cruz, father of the 12 siblings who are members of the Guinness World Records © Provided by NBC San Diego Michael D'Cruz, father of the 12 siblings who are members of the Guinness World Records

One of the sisters lives in Switzerland, most of the others live in Ontario, Canada.

Another sister, Althea, 82, now known as Ally Pecus, lives in San Diego, California.

Pecus followed her husband to the Southern California city because, in her words, "My husband said the weather was perfect."

"He did not want to go to cold Canada," she said jokingly.

a person posing for a photo: Althea (D'Cruz) Pecus of San Diego, California in a photo before she was married. © Provided by NBC San Diego Althea (D'Cruz) Pecus of San Diego, California in a photo before she was married.

The siblings credit their late parents and their faith in God for staying so tight-knit despite their geographical distance. Because of the pandemic, their regular, in-person family reunions have been put on hold.

So, like so many other things in the pandemic world, the D'Cruz's have gone virtual.

At 8 a.m. Pacific Daylight Time each morning, the siblings meet on Zoom to say the rosary. One of the D'Cruz brothers -- Father Michael -- is a Franciscan priest and usually leads the group in prayer.

At 97 years old, Doreen Lewis of Sudbury, Ontario, is the oldest of the siblings and is proudly proficient at Zoom, Facetime and email.

"My connection with people I love is my biggest blessing," Lewis told NBC 7.

graphical user interface, application: One of the D'Cruz daily family Zoom meetings © Provided by NBC San Diego One of the D'Cruz daily family Zoom meetings

Most of the siblings join the daily virtual meet-up and other relatives pop in when they can.

Anytime together is a good time.

"We were all back -- as far as I can remember -- a very happy family," Joe D'Cruz, 86, another of the three brothers, told NBC 7, as he joined the Zoom from his home in the Greater Ontario area.

"We made do with whatever we had and it never affected us mentally or emotionally, or anything else, so for that I thank the Lord very much," he added.

One person is missing these days from the virtual calls, though, and that's one of the brothers, Patrick D'Cruz, who died this past January -- after the Guinness World Record was achieved -- at 95 years old.

Patrick's surviving brothers and sisters said he lived a wonderful life. They often talk about how he was the first to leave Pakistan, the trailblazer of the bunch.

So, how have the siblings all gotten to enjoy such long lives, together?

While they each have thoughts on the secrets to a long life, those ideas all circle around similar themes: keeping a sense of humor, relying on faith, and family.

"I think family is like your shadow: it follows you in the sunshine, it follows you everywhere," said one of the sisters, Rosemarie de Souza, 78, of Burlington, Ontario. "And, as long as you keep that shadow with you, you're going to be protected."

"And of course, my secret is I have to have a drink every night. If I live long enough it's because I have a martini every night, " de Souza added.

Her siblings, on the Zoom, clapped in agreement.

Doreen Lewis' daughter, Celia Wiley, said she's proud to be part of such a big family.

"Our family unit grew so much closer through our faith and I think I can only imagine how our grandparents feel about that," Wiley said.

Ally Pecus' daughter, Karen Wilshe, said she looks up to the D'Cruz siblings.

"It's an inspiration to the next generation to watch the love, the caring, and the humor that this family has because I believe humor also keeps them going," Wilshe told NBC 7.

It's a family achievement, that's for sure. And now, the siblings can share their message of unity and love with the world.

a group of people posing for a photo: The D'Cruz siblings' 1990 Reunion. Pictured from left to right: Doreen Lewis, 97; Pat D'Cruz, 95; Genevieve Falcao, 93; Joyce D'Souza, 91; Fr. Michael D'Cruz, 90; Beryl Condillac, 88; Joe D'Cruz, 86; Francesca Lobo, 84; Althea Pecus, 82; Teresa Hedinger, 80; Rosemarie de Souza, 78; Genia Carter, 75. © Provided by NBC San Diego The D'Cruz siblings' 1990 Reunion. Pictured from left to right: Doreen Lewis, 97; Pat D'Cruz, 95; Genevieve Falcao, 93; Joyce D'Souza, 91; Fr. Michael D'Cruz, 90; Beryl Condillac, 88; Joe D'Cruz, 86; Francesca Lobo, 84; Althea Pecus, 82; Teresa Hedinger, 80; Rosemarie de Souza, 78; Genia Carter, 75.
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