LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - Bishop Placido Rodriguez announced his plans to retire Tuesday morning at the Catholic Diocese of Lubbock.
He has served as the Bishop of Lubbock for two decades, since Pope John Paul II appointed him in 1994.
As bishop, his job is to govern the Diocese of Lubbock, which covers 25 counties and more than 23,000 square miles. It includes more than 136,000 members.
When Rodriguez turns 75 next October, under church law he must send a letter of resignation to Pope Francis, who will in turn assign another bishop replace him. This process usually takes 18 months, Rodriguez said, and he estimates he will be in Lubbock for the next two-and-a-half years.
At the meeting, he announced his intention to send that letter and talked about what he hopes to accomplish within the next year. He said it will be an exciting time of renewal for the church.
Richard Ybarra is the co-director for marriage and family life at the Roman Catholic Diocese of Lubbock and said Rodriguez retiring is a huge loss for the South Plains.
"It's a big job and there's a lot of parishes that I believe are being helped because of him," he said, "and his wonderful, generous heart."
Rodriguez was born in Mexico in October 11, 1940. He grew up with what he calls a "small family," of ten brothers and four sisters. But at age 13, he had to leave this home.
"My father said in '53 'Let's go, let's get out'," he said. "'We cannot live here anymore in peace'."
His father took six of the youngest siblings and escaped to Chicago from the persecution of the church in Mexico.
"Since my father was so well connected in the defense of the church, defending and hiding the bishops and the priests during the persecution," Rodriguez said, "he created many, many enemies."
However, this did not stop Rodriguez from pursuing his dream to become a priest. He went to seminary at age 14 and he became an ordained priest in 1968. He then served as the Auxiliary Bishop of Chicago in 1983.
He became the Bishop of Lubbock 11 years later, and has been in this position ever since.
"I am already looking back," Rodriguez said. "It has been a beautiful experience serving the people here in West Texas.".
In the meantime, he has still has multiple goals set for the church Ybarra said Rodriguez will likely accomplish them.
"The bishop is a very dedicated, serious, goal oriented individual who has his goals set and usually, 99 percent of the time, they are completed," Ybarra said, "so he's very driven, very hard for the cause of the diocese."
After Rodriguez retires, he plans to return to his hometown of Chicago to continue serving the church.
He hopes he will be able to travel the world to do ordainments in other counties.