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Pope appoints Baldacchino bishop of Las Cruces

Bishop Peter Baldacchino

LAS CRUCES – Pope Francis last week announced the appointment of Bishop Peter Baldacchino, formerly Auxiliary Bishop of Miami, as the third Bishop of the Diocese of Las Cruces.

His installation as bishop will take place on July 23.

Baldacchino was born in Malta on Dec. 5, 1960, the second oldest of four children, one girl and three boys, according to a news release. His father, René, resides in Malta and his mother, Hilda, is deceased.

Baldacchino received a Catholic education in Malta. He was called to the priesthood discerned from a profound experience at age 28 when attending a World Youth Day gathering with Pope St. John Paul II. As the bishop said in a statement, “I fell in love with the missionary spirit of the church.”

Soon after, in October 1990, he was sent to the Redemptoris Mater Archdiocesan Missionary Seminary of Newark, N.J. During seminary, he earned a Master of Divinity degree from Seton Hall University. He was ordained a priest on May 25, 1996, for the Archdiocese of Newark.

He served for three years as parochial vicar at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Parish in Ridgewood, N.J. In 1999, he was sent as a missionary to serve as chancellor for the Roman Catholic Mission Sui Iuris Turks and Caicos Islands. Additionally, he became pastor of Our Lady of Divine Providence parish, on the island of Providenciales, where he built their new Church and Holy Family Academy, the only Catholic school in the country.

Ordained bishop on the Solemnity of St. Joseph, March 19, 2014, Baldacchino has served as an auxiliary bishop in Miami and pastor of St. Kieran parish. He is a member of the boards of the three South Florida seminaries, of Catholic Health Services, the Archdiocese of Miami Finance Council, and chairs the Marriage and Family Committee for the Province of Florida.

He speaks his native Maltese, as well as English, the country’s other official language and also speaks Italian, Spanish and some Creole.

Coming to the vast mission Diocese of Las Cruces, Baldacchino embraces this mission. He said, “The Lord will surprise us with his grace. He wants me to be part of the work he has begun among his people in this favored area. I look forward to the joy that the Lord has planned for us to encounter together.”