Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Father Rodríguez parishioners want him back in El Paso

"You are a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek."
 – Psalm 110:4
Father Michael Rodríguez
Many faithful Catholics around the country were saddened by the recent news that Father Rodríguez of El Paso, Texas was removed from his parish by Bishop Armando Ochoa for speaking out on the issue of marriage in the midst of a recall election. The good news is that the parishioners of Father Rodríguez are asking their bishop to return him to El Paso.

The following statement was released by David Rodríguez, the younger brother of Father Michael Rodríguez:
For the past 9 1/2 years, Fr. Michael Rodríguez has served as parish priest of San Juan Bautista in central El Paso. Recently, Bishop Armando Ochoa reassigned Fr. Rodríguez to Santa Teresa de Jesús Parish in Presidio, TX, and the surrounding missions of Candelaria, Redford, and Shafter, TX. We, the parishioners of San Juan Bautista, and hundreds, probably even thousands, of other Catholic faithful from around the diocese and southern New Mexico, want to make a public appeal to our Bishop: please restore the traditional Catholic parish life that we had at San Juan Bautista. We are convinced that this parish life is, by far, the greatest spiritual treasure of our city.

The Catholics of El Paso have now been left without the priest who was the lone voice speaking the truth and upholding all the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church. Anyone in El Paso can tell you that the most reverent Mass offered was at San Juan Bautista. Fr. Rodríguez had Confessions five times a week and often stayed past midnight absolving our sins. He had a Holy Hour almost every day, and all-night Adoration at least once a month. The Rosary was prayed daily at San Juan, many times more than once. Every Friday, after the evening Mass, Fr. Rodríguez led the Stations of the Cross in Spanish, and others prayed them in English every Friday at 12:30 p.m. At San Juan Bautista, we had many other devotions, novenas, blessings of sacramentals, processions, and additional Masses for First Friday and First Saturday. There were also numerous classes in the faith for both the adults and youth of the parish. Fr. Rodríguez was the only priest speaking out in public to defend Marriage as the union between one man and one woman. In addition, he was the only priest of the diocese offering the Traditional Latin Mass. Our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, has made it very clear that the Traditional Latin Mass should be offered generously throughout the world wherever the faithful are requesting it. Here in El Paso, hundreds of us are requesting a daily Traditional Latin Mass, just as it was being offered at San Juan Bautista. We respectfully ask Bishop Ochoa to do nothing more than obey the directives of our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI. Moreover, in just two years, the small parish of San Juan Bautista has had five men go to the seminary and two women to the convent. Another two men and two women will probably go this year to seek a religious vocation and many more youth are discerning a religious vocation thanks, in part, to the example and spiritual direction of Fr. Michael Rodríguez. Finally, Fr. Rodríguez was the only priest in the diocese who was openly promoting true Catholic education and supporting those who wish to homeschool within their family.

Many Catholics will attest to the fact that no other priest in El Paso was working harder than Fr. Rodríguez for the sanctification and salvation of our souls. And now he is gone, and so is the rich and magnificent spiritual life that we formerly had at San Juan. The grief and sorrow which many of us are experiencing is unimaginable. We've lost our spiritual father! Many of the faithful are utterly devastated. They simply do not know where to go for the feeding and care of their souls. Hundreds of letters have already been written to our Bishop, and we intend to make it thousands upon thousands. The injustice is palpable, especially for those who prefer the Traditional Latin Mass, as well as the poor, the elderly and children who relied on him for their spiritual nourishment. Their pain and hopelessness is written all over their faces.

This morning we presented Bishop Armando Ochoa with a petition of more 180 signatures, and are still in the process of gathering more. Our hope is to have 500 by next week and then grow that number even more. We are urging our Bishop to be obedient to Pope Benedict XVI, and provide El Paso with a parish life centered on the Traditional Latin Mass. Secondly, we are pleading with our Bishop: please, please send Fr. Rodríguez back to us. We love him, he’s sacrificed so much for us, and El Paso desperately needs the light and strength of his priesthood.
If you would like to help, here are a few things you can do.
  1. Offer prayers and fastings for the speedy return of Fr. Rodriguez to San Juan Bautista.
  2. Call the El Paso Chancery at (915) 872-8400 even if you are from another part of the country. Let them know how important it is to have a priest who will defend and proclaim the truth.
  3. Vote "YES" in a poll by the El Paso Times asking "Should Rev. Michael Rodriguez return to El Paso?" Link: http://www.elpasotimes.com/ci_19081998
  4. Spread the word through blogs, Facebook, twitter, email, comboxes, etc.
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St. John the Baptist, pray for us.
Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us.
Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us.

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Related articles:
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UPDATE 1 [Oct 11]:

Here is some additional information from a Catholic blogger in Dallas:
An update on San Juan Bautista.  There are no Traditional Latin Masses at the parish at present, although there is a promise to train a priest or two in the timeless Mass of All Ages and to have a Sunday TLM there at some indeterminate point in the future.  There are no other Sacraments offered, none of the daily catechesis classes Fr. Rodriguez offered, none of the daily prayers and devotionals, the whole parish life is essentially gone.  There is apparently an offer to undergo prep like First Communion or Confirmation at a neighboring parish that is apparently very problematic, and then to have the actual Sacrament at San Juan Bautista, but that’s hardly a replacement for a vibrant parish life. 

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UPDATE 2 [Oct 12]:

There is a new interview with Father Michael Rodriguez online at the website of the Remnant Newspaper titled "Priest Under Fire: An Interview of Father Michael Rodriguez".

This is a dynamite interview. Here are some excerpts, but please do yourself a favor and read the full interview. We have been waiting a long time for a priest like this. Our prayers are answered. Thank God! Alleluia!
I began to study the prayers and theology of the Traditional Latin Mass. The more I studied, the more my awe and amazement grew. I was "discovering" not only the true Catholic theology of the Mass, but also the true Catholic theology of the priesthood, and so much more! Throughout my first nine years of priesthood, I had struggled to make sense of the very serious problems which exist in the Church. At this point, it was obvious that an extreme crisis pervaded the Church and her hierarchy, but why? I just couldn't quite understand how all of this "diabolical disorientation" had come to pass . . . until the brilliant light of the true Catholic Mass ("Emitte lucem tuam et veritatem tuam . . .") began to penetrate my priestly soul. This "discovery" of the Traditional Latin Mass has been, by far, the greatest gift of God to my poor priesthood.
The dismal response of both civil and ecclesiastical authorities to the authentic teachings of the Catholic Church in regard to homosexuality demonstrates how extreme the current crisis of faith actually is. It really can’t get much worse. There’s hardly any faith left to lose! Even a pagan, bereft of the light of faith, can arrive at the conclusion that homosexual acts are intrinsically evil. Reason, natural law, and consideration of the male and female anatomy more than suffice to confirm this moral truth.
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  1. UPDATE: I added some information about the lack of services available at the parish as a result of the bishop removing Father Michael.

  2. UPDATE 2: I have added links to two new interviews with Father Michael Rodriguez. This is powerful work of the Holy Spirit.

  3. CORRECTION: The interview from the Remnant Newspaper is the only one. But it is quite in depth. The other article I had linked to was itself a link to the Remnant interview. For the record here is the other website which is featuring excerpts from this interview:
    Interview with Fr Rodriguez of El Paso, Texas

  4. Being from El Paso, I have been following the developments of this story. Catholicism in El Paso had been nothing but an ethnic and cultural religion. I was rarely exposed to practicing Catholics there or any Catholics who knew a shred of what their Church teaches. When I lived in El Paso, I was an anti-Catholic Evangelical Christian, and there was nothing about the El Paso brand Catholicism that would have even remotely attracted me to it.

    My career took me across the country where, over time, I softened to Catholicism and, eventually, when I realized that Protestantism logically collapses under its own major two tenents (Sola Scriptura and Sola Fide), I began to start investigating the Church's claims through Scripture, history, the Early Church Fathers, and Magisterial documents/pronouncements.

    First, all of the bias and prejudice I had toward Catholicism began to dissolve as I realized through my studies that none of them were grounded in reality.

    Second, as Protestantism was proven completely false by its own precepts, I was only left with two choices, apostacy or Catholicism.

    I entered the Catholic Church in 2006. I returned home to find what I perceived as a bishop who was more of a business manager than a shepard. I saw Catholics leaving the Church in droves for Charismatic Evangelicalism. I heard several banal and close to heretical homilies at different masses at different parishes.

    What happened to Fr. Rodriguez came as no surprise to me. It's one reason why I didn't link the original story from a couple of years ago to my anti-Catholic relatives. I had a feeling that the bishop would humiliate him, which would end up making the Church look worse.

    Not to mention, one of my employers succumbed under the pressure of an organized homosexual activist group after I had been sexually harrassed by a homosexual more than once (who was affiliated with this group) and had explained to him that his advances were inappropriate. My employer fired me after he received threatening letters from this group in the mail. There was no altercation or anything and I said nothing derogatory. This was back in 2006.

    I'm sure that the good bishop who seems to have his focus set on finances collapsed on the same political weight that my boss did almost 16 years ago, and I'm sure the strength and power of those intolerant homosexual activist groups has only grown in El Paso since then.

    The sad thing is, when a bishop sides with the homosexual lobby over his priest (seemingly the ONLY priest in his diocese), it is definitely a scandal to the Church in El Paso. I can tell you one thing, actions like that from a bishop certainly aren't going to bring in more faithful through conversion nor will it stop the profuse bleeding of El Paso Catholics leaving the Church for Evanglicalism.

    It's telling when the diocese is one of the largest portals for Mexico and there are hardly any conversions, Catholics coming from Mexico are leaving the Church when they get to El Paso, and there hasn't been more than 5 seminarians in the past 20 years. It's what you call a dead diocese.


  5. Hi Joe. Great comment. I can sympathize with your spiritual journey. The Catholic bishops in the United States don't seem to appreciate the great treasure that has been entrusted to their care. They think that the only way to win the conversions game is to imitate the Protestants. This is a losing strategy -- even if you only consider that you can't beat the Protestants at their own game.

    But the Catholic Church is much more than just another Christian denomination. It is the pearl of great price, as you (and I) have realized.

    If the US bishops would only proudly stand up for the teachings of the Church, it would create such a spiritual force in our society that it would radically change the culture and even the political landscape. This is the power of the Holy Spirit which Father Rodríguez tapped into.

    Like you, I fully expected Father Michael's bishop to be harshly critical of him. This is a sad comment on the state of the Church. It should have been the bishop speaking up with the authority of his office. Instead it was left to a lone holy priest to have to face the winds of persecution alone. And the harshest persecution of all was at the hands of his own bishop who should have been protecting him.

    If the bishop had stood up for Catholic teaching and the IRS would have come after him, then that in itself would have been a great thing. Please see the Peter Kreeft video at:
    If 100 bishops got thrown in jail ... that would be wonderful

    Peace be with you.

  6. My prayers are with Fr. Rodriguez. We have to stand up for the true Church teachings, even if we are persecuted for it.

    W. Helfen, Stone Mountain, Ga.

  7. W. Helfen. There is a video of a recent Mass that Father Rodriguez presided over at:

    I was impressed by how quickly Father has instituted a Traditional Latin Mass in his new parish. The church is in an isolated and sparsely populated part of Texas. The Father himself describes this as an exile (while apologizing to his current parish) during his homily.

    The homily begins at around 33:00. It's mostly in English with some parts in Spanish. The music of the Mass is very beautiful and solemn.

    The Church should be elevating such priests instead of punishing them.