By Liz Sullivan
For just the third time in the history of the Diocese of San Jose a Bishop has been selected to lead the faithful of Santa Clara County.
On July 11, Pope Francis appointed the Most Reverend Oscar Cantú as Coadjutor Bishop of San Jose. Bishop Cantú was up until now Bishop of Las Cruces, New Mexico. The appointment was made public in Washington, D.C., by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, Apostolic Nuncio to the United States.
That morning, Bishop Cantú, along with Bishop Patrick J. McGrath, met with the Diocesan staff at the Chancery in San Jose. As the men entered the conference room at the Chancery they were met with a loud round of applause.
A week prior, on July 2, Bishop McGrath had met with Chancery staff to explain where the Diocese was in receiving a Coadjutor Bishop, who will replace him. When the Bishop returned home later that morning he received a call from Archbishop Pierre stating the Coadjutor Bishop had been appointed.
Every bishop of the Catholic Church must submit a request for retirement to the Vatican as they approach their 75th birthday. Bishop McGrath, 73, was told by the Holy See he could begin this process a little earlier after Auxiliary Bishop Thomas A. Daly was appointed Bishop of Spokane, Washington in 2015. As a result, Bishop McGrath sent his request in February of this year.
In the Catholic Church, the Coadjutor Bishop is an immediate collaborator of the diocesan bishop, with the right of succession to the position. Bishop McGrath served as Coadjutor Bishop to Bishop DuMaine before succeeding him. The partnership allows the new Bishop time to become familiar with the diocese he will eventually take over.
“I asked and prayed for this,” said Bishop McGrath. “Both Bishop Cantú and I are committed to the vision of Vatican II and our Holy Father Pope Francis.”
Bishop Cantú was born in Houston on December 5, 1966. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Dallas, and received his Master’s in Divinity and Masters in Theological Studies from the University of Saint Thomas, also in Houston. He also attended the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, where he earned his Licentiate in Sacred Theology (S.T.L.) as well as his Doctorate in Sacred Theology (S.T.D.). Bishop Cantú was ordained a priest of the Diocese of Houston in 1994.
He spent his priestly career working in parishes throughout the Houston metropolitan area. His first assignment was as parochial vicar at Saint Christopher Parish. He also taught at the University of Saint Thomas and at Saint Mary’s Seminary. He served as pastor at Holy Name Parish. He was involved in the Christian Family movement; conducted retreats and worked with the Engaged Encounter ministry. Bishop Cantú was also involved in The Metropolitan Organization (TMO) that addresses social issues in the community.
Bishop Cantú was appointed and then ordained Auxiliary Bishop of San Antonio and Titular Bishop of Dardano in 2008. In 2013, Bishop Cantú was appointed as bishop of the Diocese of Las Cruces, NM. He was installed as bishop on February 28, 2013.
Bishop Oscar Cantú is the former Chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Committee on International Justice and Peace. He is currently a member of the USCCB Subcommittee on the Church in Latin America and Subcommittee on Hispanic Affairs.
Bishop Cantú was one of two delegates chosen by the Bishops’ Conference to represent the USCCB at Pope Francis’ visit to Mexico in 2016.
Bishop Cantú will be welcomed to the Diocese of San Jose at a Mass on September 28 at the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Joseph.
“As I arrive in San Jose, I look forward to continuing the mission of the Church in this beautiful part of the world that goes by the name of a man whose own life was transformed by his encounter with a young virgin and the Son she bore,” said Bishop Cantú. “As Jesus invited those first two disciples on a journey, “Come and see,” he told them, he invites you and me to follow him on a journey of discovery, of wonder, of faith, paved by steps of hope and love. I look forward to getting to know you and working with you.”
It was with great joy that I received news that Pope Francis has appointed Bishop Oscar Cantú, currently Bishop of Las Cruces in New Mexico, as Coadjutor Bishop of San Jose.
As we prepare to welcome Bishop Cantú to San Jose, I ask the people of this Diocese and all of our brothers and sisters in the Roman Catholic Church to join us in praying for Bishop Cantú.
We will celebrate the Mass of Welcome for Bishop Cantú at the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Joseph on September 28, 2018.
In the Gospel of John, when John the Baptist saw Jesus walking by, he urged two of his disciples to follow him. “There is the Lamb of God,” he said. “Follow him.” Those two disciples were following John for a reason. John spoke to their hearts. Their hearts yearned for something greater in their lives, something that gave them hope, something that made their lives meaningful. John promised that that something was actually someone, one who was coming. When he came, John pointed him out. His work was done.
Some months ago, I attended a conference that studied issues of the upcoming Synod on Youth, Vocations, and Discernment. One of the sessions treated the issue of the “nones,” those persons who don’t associate with any religion. Sadly, a great number of them are baptized Catholics. We’ve known about this reality for some time. Unfortunately, new statistics show us that the average age of those disassociating from the Church is thirteen! That’s not the early age, but the average age. If this isn’t a wake up call for the Church, them we might as well roll over into our graves! It certainly woke me up.
This is a wake up call not only to talk about the new Evangelization – new methods, new zeal, new language – but begin living it! It begins, it continues, and it ends with an encounter with Jesus Christ. Oscar Cantu is challenged to encounter Jesus Christ every day, to allow my life to be challenged and transformed by him. One of the fruits of this encounter is mission, joyful mission.
As I arrive in San Jose, I look forward to continuing the mission of the Church in this beautiful part of the world that goes by the name of a man whose own life was transformed by his encounter with a young virgin and the Son she bore. As Jesus invited those first two disciples on a journey, “Come and see,” he told them, he invites you and me to follow him on a journey of discovery, of wonder, of faith, paved by steps of hope and love. I look forward to getting to know you and working with you.
I must confess that at the moment my heart is in Las Cruces, in southern New Mexico. I didn’t only fall in love with the breathtaking landscape, the spicy food – the people have stolen my heart. They loved me as only siblings can love a brother. I’m grateful to them for their healing, strength inducing love. And so my heart remains with them.
But I need not despair. The Lord says, “I will give you a new heart and sprinkle clean water upon you.” The Lord will give me a new heart for a new corner of his vineyard.
San Jose, pray for us!