On Thursday Pope Francis appointed Mexico native Father Jorge Rodriguez, former professor and Vice-Rector of St. John Vianney seminary, as a new auxiliary bishop for the Archdiocese of Denver.
“Father Rodriguez is a passionate pastor and teacher of the faith, and he will serve this archdiocese well in the role of auxiliary bishop,” Denver Archbishop Samuel Aquila said in an Aug. 25 press release announcing the priest’s appointment.
Rodriguez, 61, has been pastor at Holy Cross Parish in Thornton, Colo. since 2014, as well as an adjunct professor at St. John Vianney Theological Seminary in Denver. The announcement of his appointment as auxiliary bishop came in an Aug. 25 communique from the Vatican.
Asked about his first-hand experience with the growing Hispanic Catholic community in Denver, Rodriguez told “Denver Catholic,” the newspaper of the Archdiocese of Denver, that it is not about numbers so much as it is about their “vitality and live expressions of their Catholic faith.”
The challenge, Rodriguez said, is in helping the Hispanic community integrate into the U.S. Church without losing the values of their cultural and Catholic religious identity.
“My experience with this community is that the faithful have a great love for the Eucharist; a tender devotion to the Mother of our Lord, Our Lady of Guadalupe; show sincere support for the Holy Father and the priests; they are very generous in whatever the church needs, and their faith is sincere and uncomplicated,” he said.
The bishop-elect was born March 22, 1955, in Mérida, Mexico, in the state of Yucatán, where his family still resides. He joined the Legionaries of Christ after high school and was ordained a priest Dec. 24, 1987.
Rodriguez was awarded a doctorate in Sacred Theology by the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome in 1994. He also received a licentiate in philosophy from the same university and a diploma in Mariology from the Marianum in Rome.
From 1994-1997, he was dean of the Theology Department of the Pontifical Athenaeum Regina Apostolorum in Rome and taught theology at several different pontifical universities and institutes in the city.
The priest first came to Denver in 1999 at the invitation of Archbishop Charles Chaput to teach at the new St. John Vianney Theological Seminary, and to serve as associate pastor of St. Therese Parish in Aurora.
He returned to Rome from 2002-2006 to serve as an associate pastor of the Roman parish Stella Maris. Rodriguez then returned to Denver again to teach at St. John Vianney and from 2007-2014 served as Vice-Rector of the seminary. He was officially placed as a priest of the Archdiocese of Denver in 2008.
Rodriguez will be ordained a bishop Nov. 4, likely in Denver’s Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception.
“I would like the Catholic community of the Archdiocese of Denver to know that my only wish is to serve the cause of Our Lord Jesus Christ and to serve them according to this new mission and grace I am about to receive, Fr. Rodriguez said in his interview with Denver Catholic.
“It is the Lord’s work and not ours, even less mine. So the best support – and this is what I beg from them – is to keep me in their prayers.”