Catholic Diocese of Las Cruces announces new bishop

Catholic Diocese of Las Cruces announces new bishop

POSTED: Thursday, January 10, 2013 - 12:15pm

UPDATED: Thursday, January 10, 2013 - 6:08pm

Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Las Cruces Ricardo Ramirez named his successor at a news conference Thursday morning at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

Ramirez announced Pope Benedict appointed Most Reverend Oscar Cantu of San Antonio as the diocese's second ever bishop.

"I look forward with all humility to being the leader of this community," Cantu said.

Ramirez is retiring after serving as bishop of the newly formed diocese in 1982.

Ramirez turned 75 years old last year. The Catholic church asks bishops to retire when they reach that age.

"There's mixed emotions," Ramirez said. "I think I have a bucket of mixed emotions right now, but I also have a bucket list."

Ramirez now plans on traveling a bit more and said he knows the diocese is in good hands.

"He's bringing a lot of skills," Ramirez said of his successor. "I think a special skill is he's kind and gentle."

Ramirez said he also believes Cantu has the ability to win the people over with his personality.

"The humor is there and the ability to talk and welcome people and his willingness to stand in line and greet people," said Lonnie Briseno, a Las Cruces Catholic. "I think we're blessed and I think we are lucky to have two good bishops one right after the other."

Ramirez leaves the diocese in good shape after spending the better part of three decades spreading and building the Catholic faith in a diocese of about 45,000 square miles.

"Bishop Ramirez has certainly done some wonderful work here and in all humility I hope to continue to build on that," Cantu said.

There has been no official installment date for Cantu but could be in about six weeks.

Ramirez plans on continuing to live in Las Cruces and will happily share any wisdom he can with his successor.

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