Albuquerque pastor to become cathedral rector

January 4, 2019

A former chancellor of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe will be the new rector of the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi.

The Rev. Timothy A. Martinez, pastor at Risen Savior Catholic Community in Albuquerque, replaces the Rev. Adam Ortega y Ortiz, who announced last month he was stepping down to deal with unspecified “personal challenges.”

Martinez, who begins his new job Feb. 2, declined an interview request Wednesday but said he would be “happy to talk” in early February.

“I’ve got a bunch of stuff going on this month, trying to close up my work over here and get things out of the way,” he said in a brief telephone interview.

Martinez, who is in his 50s, also declined to provide any biographical information. But online searches show that he is or was at one time a member of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe Liturgical Commission, as well as a board member of the National Federation of Priests’ Councils.

Martinez’s first assignment as a pastor was at the Shrine of St. Bernadette in Albuquerque. He also served as pastor at San Francisco de Asis in Taos.

Martinez has a passion for astronomy. He was once listed as a member of the Albuquerque Astronomical Society, though it’s unclear if he still belongs to the organization, and he has attended the Vatican Observatory’s Faith and Astronomy Workshop at least twice, according to the Catholic News Service.

In a 2016 interview, Martinez told the news service that studying the heavens and reading up on the latest astronomical discoveries gave meaning to his existence.

“It deepens my understanding of what I’m doing in the world,” he told the Catholic News Service. “[The universe] is a giant statement of God, of grace, love, God’s unbounded generosity in creation itself. If I’m going to learn about God, then that’s how I’m going to learn.”

A spokeswoman for the archdiocese did not return messages seeking comment on Martinez’s appointment.

The Rev. Tai Pham, one of the cathedral priests, said Martinez’s appointment as rector was announced to parishioners at Masses over the weekend.

Martinez will take over the Archdiocese of Santa Fe’s flagship church as parishioners continue to question why Ortega y Ortiz — known to some simply as Father Adam — departed after 6½ years.

Ortega y Ortiz, who called his time at the cathedral “a richly rewarding experience,” shocked and saddened members of the flock when he announced his departure Dec. 16.

Ortega y Ortiz didn’t specify the reasons behind his departure but said it was triggered by “personal challenges, some of which have become particularly difficult for me of late.”

“That is why I took some personal time these past few months,” he told parishioners at the time. “It is clear to me now that I need more time.”

Follow Daniel J. Chacón on Twitter @danieljchacon.

Update hourly