Pope John Paul created the Catholic Diocese of Lubbock in 1983 and named its current Bishop.
Bishop Placido Rodriguez has met with the Holy Father four times in Rome since 1988. He says "With the Holy Father we can also see his dedication...surrendering to the will of God and these moments are not to be run away from or covered up as if they don't exist. This is a supreme moment for him in his leadership in the church."
Bishop Rodriguez says this is the biggest and most important pilgrimage the Pope will ever make. He wants Catholics in Lubbock to remember his death glorifies God. "As he said from the beginning of his papacy, he said do not fear. Do not be afraid and so as we move on and so the best thing is to say is thank you Lord for giving us a Holy Pope," says Bishop Rodriguez.
4/1/05 Vatican: Pope John Paul II Near Death Pope John Paul II was near death Saturday, his breathing shallow and his heart and kidneys failing, the Vatican said. Millions of faithful around the world knelt, crawled on their knees, bowed their heads and lit candles to pray for the 84-year-old pontiff.
Bishop Rodriguez remembers the Holy Father's legacy as one of direct appeal to youth and solidarity with the poor. He leaves the Catholic faith with a tremendous amount of directives, pastoral letters and guidance. Rodriguez recalls, "Another great legacy is that of trying to bring the east and the west ... the orthodox eastern churches as well as the catholic church to bring them to a greater harmony and hopefully some kind of understanding and union."
The Pope made a big impression in Lubbock back in 2002, more than 140,000 people visited Texas Tech to see a Vatican art exhibit. 31 frescoes were taken outside of the Vatican for the first time for the display. Bishop Rodriguez now keeps with him a simpler work of art. He says when the Pope gave him a rosary last year, the Pontiff was sharp, attentive, and strong, much as the first time he ever met him as a Bishop in Chicago.
The Bishop shares a joke the Pope made, "With a big smile he said uh huh... I understand there are as many Hispanic catholics in Chicago as there are Pols in Chicago and then I saw a big grin and I told him.. Holy Father, I'm afraid to say, it is so."
Bishop Rodriguez says it's no use trying to guess what kind of changes the Catholic church could see in coming months until a new Pope is chosen. He does say the church's traditions will carry on and the doctrines of the church will not change.