LAS CRUCES – He known to Las Cruces Catholics as Bishop Oscar Cantú, but these days he could also be called “Travelin’ Man.”
“He recently bought a new car, and he’s already got something like 100,000 miles on it,” said Susan Roberts, director of the Diocese of Las Cruces Department of Development, Foundation and Stewardship. “Keep in mind that our diocese (of Las Cruces) encompasses all of the 10 counties in southern New Mexico and is 54,000 square miles. That’s more than the state of Pennsylvania (46,055 square miles).
“That’s an awful lot of ground for anyone to cover. I’ll bet he’s probably gone through two or three sets of tires since he’s become bishop (on Feb. 28, 2013).”
In February, Cantú was one of only two U.S. bishops who traveled with Pope Francis during his whirlwind six-day trip to Mexico. After time off to recharge, Cantú, 49, returned to his responsibilities in the diocese.
“It’s confirmation season,” said Cantú, speaking through a wireless headset on his cell phone while — you guessed it — in his car returning to Las Cruces. “I’m out visiting all of the parishes, all of the missions, and all of the schools in our diocese.”
That explains why Catholics in Las Cruces haven’t seen much of the Bishop lately. There are 45 parishes, 44 missions and five Catholic schools between Lordsburg, to the west, and Hobbs, to the east.
Some Las Cruces Catholics raised concerns about the Bishop’s recent absence.
“I don’t think I’ve seen him since, what, the United in Ministry Dinner, and that was before the pope came,” said Loretta Hernandez. “We were wondering if maybe all of the traveling he’s been doing might have worn him down and made him sick. Then, we didn’t seen him much after the pope and we started having those same thoughts again.”
Cantú said he was grateful and appreciative of the concerns; it humbled him that he has been missed. But he promised Las Crucens will see him soon.
“It’s always a busy time in the spring,” Cantú said. “But we’ll be back soon.”
Cantú is expected to lead a procession, from Immaculate Heart of Mary Cathedral, and celebrate Mass, at St. Genevieve Church, for the Feast of Corpus Christi on May 29. It is also expected, barring scheduling conflicts, Cantú will attend celebrations to mark the 55th anniversary of Monsignor Robert Getz’s ordination, and Monsignor John Anderson’s 50th anniversary into the priesthood.
Steve Ramirez can be reached at 575-541-5452, firstname.lastname@example.org, or @SteveRamirez6 on Twitter.
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