Denton Missionary Killed In Peru

By Melissa Newton, CBS 11 News

DENTON (CBSDFW.COM) – Family and friends are remembering a 2009 Denton High School graduate who was killed in a tragic accident in Peru.

Lilly Cantu slipped and fell down the stairs of a three-story building Thursday night while serving as a missionary to the South American country.

Among the students at Denton High School, lead counselor Dr. Doretha Hudspeth said Cantu stood out.

“She was just one of those students that I would never forget.” She said. ” sweet, outgoing, cared about everybody.”

Hudspeth has known the Cantu family since Lilly was just a child.  Cantu’s mother and older sister both work for the district, and her younger sister is still a sophomore in Denton.

“When you walk into a room, she would light up the room, she was always outgoing and she cared about everybody.” Hudspeth said, “she would always ask ‘how are you doing?’.”

Cantu’s family and her youth ministers at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Denton said Cantu felt called to ministry.

Her aunt said after watching a movie called “The Human Experience“, Cantu decided to put off college for a year and serve as a missionary.  She was supposed to come back from South America in April, 2011.

‘It’s just an amazing thing for a person to have the courage to go out into world and live the call of Christian,” said Ben Briones, a youth minister at Immaculate Conception and close friend of Cantu’s.

The 20-year-old woman was serving at a medical clinic in Peru for children when she died.

“Lilly had a heart as big as Texas, maybe bigger,” said youth minister Susan Mullins. “Her heart is so big for people that this is what she chose, to go and be with those people in Peru and do that work.”

While the freak accident has many who knew the 20-year-old woman in disbelief, those closest to her find comfort in the legecy Lilly left behind.  “She is in my heart, she walked across it and she’ll stay forever.” Mullins said.

A legecy perhaps best described by Cantu herself. Just days before her death, the young woman wrote on her Facebook page, “I am an old woman; I am a young girl. I’m as strong as a hurricane; I’m as weak as a whisper. I’m engulfed in the darkness, in a perpetual blackness…. I’m a blaze of the glory of radiant light. I am Life.”

Memorial services have not yet been arranged.

The Cantu family is still working with the embassy to get Lilly’s body back to America but doing so is an expensive and lengthy process.

There is a Lilly Cantu Donation fund set up at Wells Fargo Bank to help with that expense.   Mullins said any additional money donated will go to the hospital in Peru where Cantu volunteered.


One Comment

  1. Sharon Gerber says:

    This reminds me of the Bible passage of a young man who was sitting in a 3rd story window of a bldg., listening to St. Paul teach, as he did each evening after work. The young man fell asleep and fell outward, to his death. St. Paul hurried down to him, prayed over him and brought him back to life. I wish we could have had St. Paul there for Lilly. She was a good friend of one of my nephews girls, Abby, a student of theology…who misses her dearly. Lilly truly lived the Christian life, as Christ wants us to do. It’s comforting to know she is in Our Lord’s presence…and wears a glorious crown for her life dedicated to Him at such a young age.

  2. Joe Morris says:

    My name is Joe Morris and I am the Catering Coordinator at Carinos Italian in Denton, Texas. As a friend of the Cantu family I have been working hard to put on a benefit night for them at my restaurant. We have been able to put together a benefit for them on Sunday, November 14, 2010. We need all the help to publicize the event so that we can raise as much money as possible for the family Please help this worthy cause.

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