Want Catholics back in church? Reflect Jesus, Denver's new bishop says

Want Catholics back in church? Reflect Jesus, Denver's new bishop says

Bishop-designate Jorge Rodriguez. Credit: Andrew Wright/Denver Catholic.
Bishop-designate Jorge Rodriguez. Credit: Andrew Wright/Denver Catholic.

.- Father Jorge Rodriguez, the next auxiliary bishop of Denver, believes there is a way to help lapsed Catholics return to church.

“Sometimes we go far away, but Jesus is always the one who attracts to our pews,” Bishop-designate Rodriguez said Aug. 25. “Inasmuch as we present the true Jesus, then people will come back. They really need him.”
 
If Catholics will “reactivate” their own communities, he said, people will return.

On Thursday, Pope Francis appointed Mexico native Fr. Rodriguez, 61, as the next auxiliary bishop for the Archdiocese of Denver. The former professor and past vice-rector of Denver’s St. John Vianney Seminary presently serves as pastor at Holy Cross Church in Thornton, Colo.

“I’ve met this wonderful Catholic community that we have here,” he said at a Thursday press conference. “There are lots of wonderful people in Colorado. I feel very honored to be able to live in this beautiful state and to serve the Church here, for our brothers and sisters in the archdiocese.”

The bishop-elect was born March 22, 1955, in Mérida, Mexico, in the state of Yucatán, where his family still resides.

“My Hispanic origin and background connects me particularly with the growing Hispanic community here in Denver. I’ve been able to celebrate the joys and to share in their needs,” he said.

He also had a request for Denver’s Catholics.

“I beg for your prayers. That’s what I really need now,” he added. “In everything may Jesus Christ be praised.”

Bishop-designate Rodriguez said Archbishop Samuel Aquila of Denver has been promoting the formation of Catholics as disciples using the Amazing Parish program “in order to revitalize parishes and bring back Catholics to our pews.”

He said his parish, Holy Cross, has been doing this, and there is “a lot of life.”

As for Archbishop Aquila, he welcomed the appointment.

“Pope Francis has given to us a great gift in Bishop-elect Rodriguez,” the archbishop told CNA.

“It means that we will have a Hispanic bishop from our own archdiocese who has served here for over 10 years and knows the archdiocese well. He will be able to reach out to the Hispanic community and be a very real presence for them. One who understands, certainly, Mexican culture and will be able to enhance the handing on of the faith and that encounter with Christ that is so important.”

He said the Hispanic community, especially monolingual Spanish speakers, face challenges finding parishes where they can feel at home.

“Some of the challenges that they have are certainly in the area of catechesis and the area of learning English,” Archbishop Aquila explained.

Sixty of the archdiocese’s 115 parishes have Mass in Spanish. Over 50 percent of the archdiocese is Hispanic, according to the archbishop.

Bishop-designate Rodriguez joined the Legionaries of Christ after high school and was ordained a priest Dec. 24, 1987. He has served as a theology professor and was dean of the Theology Department of the Pontifical Athenaeum Regina Apostolorum in Rome.

Father Rodriguez will be ordained a bishop Nov. 4.

Previous auxiliary bishops of Denver include Jose Gomez, who went on to head the San Antonio and then the Los Angeles archdiocese, and Bishop James Conley, who now heads Nebraska’s Diocese of Lincoln.

Tags: Bishop Appointment, Catholic News, Archdiocese of Denver