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Bishop Oscar Cantu takes over as leader of the Catholic Diocese of Las Cruces

Friday, March 1, 2013 - 12:03am

It was a historic day for the Catholic Diocese of Las Cruces on Thursday with a new bishop taking over on the same day Pope Benedict officially retired.

After more than 30 years of services, Bishop Ricardo Ramirez steps down and hands over the reigns Bishop Oscar Cantu.

"I'm just anxious to finally settle in and to be able to roll up my sleeves and get to work," Cantu said.

Ramirez retires on the same day as Pope Benedict. Benedict's retirement was acknowledged during the installation mass.

"It's a big coincidence,"Bishop Ramirez joked. "I just keep thinking maybe he heard what a good day it was to retire and he copied me."

With Cantu of San Antonio taking over as the second-ever bishop of the diocese, Ramirez officially begins his own retirement.

"There's mixed emotions and there's a sense of relief," Ramirez said. "There's also a sense of satisfaction."

Ramirez leaves a diocese he helped build from the ground up and kept it going during rough patches.

"There was a time when I thought we weren't going to make it," Ramirez admitted. "We didn't have enough money, we didn't have the seminarians and the priests."

Ramirez persevered and leaves the diocese in good shape for Cantu, whom he knows will build on the work he started.

"He'll enjoy serving these people as much as I've had," Ramirez said.

After his installation, Bishop Cantu thanked the hundreds in attendance.

"Thank you for your generous and heartfelt welcome," Cantu said. "I look forward to getting to know you and working with you for many years."

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