ROME – The Vatican announced Wednesday Pope Francis’s appointment of Bishop Oscar Cantú of Las Cruces, New Mexico to be coadjutor bishop of San Jose, California.
As coadjutor, Cantú will assist Bishop Patrick J. McGrath, 73, in the administration of the Diocese of San Jose, and succeed McGrath upon his retirement or death.
Cantú, 51, has served as bishop of Las Cruces, New Mexico since February 2013. He is fluent in English, Spanish, Italian, and French.
In 2016, the bishop was one of two delegates chosen to represent the U.S. bishops’ conference during Francis’s visit to Mexico. After the pope’s visit, the bishop told CNA it showed Mexico “that the Holy Father cares about you, and that God is with us even in difficult moments, even in the darkness of life.”
Cantú has served as chairman of the United States Bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace and is a member of the subcommittees on the Church in Latin America and Hispanic Affairs.
Born in Houston Dec. 5, 1966, he is the fifth of eight children. His parents, Ramiro and Maria de Jesus Cantú, are from small towns near Monterey, Mexico.
“There’s no dichotomy in being a Mexican-American. We love both countries because we have part of ourselves in both countries,” Cantú told CNA in a February 2016 interview.
Houston Catholic schools were vital to the bishop’s formation and the formation of six of his siblings. Although Cantú’s father only received schooling up to 6th grade, he taught the value of education to his children, four of whom graduated college and three of whom have earned master’s degrees.
As a seminarian, Cantú worked on a committee with then-Bishop James Tamayo of Laredo to promote Hispanic ministry.
Ordained to the priesthood May 21, 1994, Cantú was made a bishop in 2008, at the age of 41, when Pope Benedict XVI appointed him auxiliary bishop of San Antonio.
During his 14 years as a priest of the Diocese of Galveston-Houston, he was involved in the Christian Family movement leading youth retreats; Engaged Encounter ministry; and the Metropolitan Organization (TMO), which addresses social issues in the community.
He earned his Bachelor of Arts from the University of Dallas, and a master’s in divinity and a master’s in theological studies from the University of St. Thomas in Houston. He also earned his Doctorate of Sacred Theology in dogmatic theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome.
Before being ordained a bishop, he was pastor of his childhood parish, Holy Name, in Houston. He also served as parochial vicar of St. Christopher Parish and taught at the University of St. Thomas and St. Mary’s Seminary.
The Diocese of San Jose was canonically established in 1981 and belongs to the ecclesiastical province of San Francisco.