Bishop-elect Rodriguez to be welcomed by community at solemn vespers

On the eve of a bishop’s episcopal ordination, it is a long-held tradition within the Catholic Church to hold an evening prayer service, also called solemn vespers, to put into context what will take place the next day.

The solemn vespers for Bishop-elect Jorge Rodriguez will take place the evening of Thursday, Nov. 3, at Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish in Northglenn. The event is open to the public, and all are encouraged to come and pray for Denver’s new auxiliary bishop.

The solemn vespers service will consist of the traditional evening prayers of the Church. Following the homily, Archbishop Aquila will bless the episcopal insignia of Bishop-elect Jorge Rodriguez, which include the ring, the pastoral staff (or crosier), and the miter. The insignia will be presented to the new bishop Friday during the Mass of Episcopal Ordination.

The episcopal insignia of Bishop-elect Rodriguez will be blessed at the Nov. 3 solemn vespers service. Pictured left to right: his pectoral cross, his ring and his crozier. (Photos by Andrew Wright)

The episcopal insignia of Bishop-elect Rodriguez will be blessed at the Nov. 3 solemn vespers service. Pictured left to right: his pectoral cross, his ring and his crozier. (Photos by Andrew Wright)

The ring, worn on the ring finger of the bishop’s right hand, is the symbol of fidelity to the nuptial bond he has with the Church. The ring of Bishop-elect Rodriguez is a gift from Archbishop Aquila, and it carries on it an image of Christ as the Good Shepherd.

The miter is the liturgical headpiece worn by the bishop when exercising his office. Two bands called “lappers” hang from the back, and it echoes the miter worn by the high priest in the Jerusalem Temple and a promise of the “unfading crown of glory.”

The pastoral staff, or “crosier”, is held in the left hand. A bishop carries it at liturgies celebrated in his own diocese. The staff of the new bishop is a gift from the priests of the Archdiocese of Denver, and was handcrafted by Colorado wood maker Bill Gorski.

In addition to laypeople, several civic and ecumenical leaders will be present at the vespers service, including JoAnn Windholz, State Representative of House District 30, Thomas T. Priday of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Father Ambrose Omayas of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Denver, and Metropolitan Alexandros, head of the Eastern Orthodox Metropolis of America, part of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Kiev Patriarchate).

Vespers are a part of the Liturgy of the Hours, also known as the Divine Office. The Liturgy of the Hours fulfills Jesus’ command to “pray always” given in the Gospel of Luke, and is an important spiritual practice within the Church.

While the event is open to the public, seating is limited, and there may be standing room only.

Solemn Vespers

Thursday, Nov. 3, 7-8 p.m.
Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church
11385 Grant Drive, Northglenn, CO 80233

COMING UP: Denver’s new auxiliary bishop beloved by local community

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After a long wait, Denver is getting a new auxiliary bishop, one that the local community knows and loves very well.

Pope Francis announced Thursday the appointment of Father Jorge Rodriguez, pastor of Holy Cross parish in Thornton, as the next auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Denver. A press conference announcing his appointment was held Thursday morning at the Cardinal Stafford Library. Among those attending to show their support were Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila, Cardinal J. Francis Stafford, various clergy and seminarians, and members of the Holy Cross parish community.

Archbishop Aquila introduced Bishop-elect Rodriguez to standing applause, and even some tears of joy.

“It is a moment of great joy for the Church of northern Colorado,” Archbishop Aquila said. “It has been a long time waiting for a new auxiliary, and we are truly blessed with one of our own priests. It is with great joy that I welcome him, both as a friend and a brother.”

DENVER, CO - Pope Francis appointed Father Jorge Rodriguez was the next auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Denver Aug. 25, 2016. A press conference announcing the appointment was held at the Cardinal Stafford Library.

Pope Francis appointed Father Jorge Rodriguez the next auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Denver Aug. 25, 2016. A press conference announcing the appointment was held at the Cardinal Stafford Library. (Photo by Andrew Wright)

Of his new appointment, Bishop-elect Rodriguez told Denver Catholic, “In this moment, I feel overwhelmed. At the same time as I feel overwhelmed, I feel at peace.

Bishop-Elect Rodriguez is beloved by the Denver Catholic community, and especially the local Hispanic community. His work as the new auxiliary bishop is likely to fulfill a great need for the Hispanic Catholic community in Denver, which comprises 52% of all Catholics in the archdiocese.

“He will be a wonderful witness and presence for our Hispanics,” Archbishop Aquila said. “He certainly knows the Hispanic community, plus he knows many of the English speaking members of our community too.”

While serving as pastor of Holy Cross, Bishop-elect Rodriguez has worked to integrate the Hispanic community into the overarching Catholic community in Denver, he hopes to integrate the two even further as auxiliary bishop.

DENVER, CO - Pope Francis appointed Father Jorge Rodriguez was the next auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Denver Aug. 25, 2016. A press conference announcing the appointment was held at the Cardinal Stafford Library.

Archbishop Aquila warmly welcomed Bishop-elect Rodriguez as new auxiliary bishop for Denver, saying that “He will be a wonderful witness and presence for our Hispanics.” (Photo by Andrew Wright)

“Love can bring both communities together,” Bishop-elect Rodriguez said. “When I see both communities celebrating, having fun, and you see Hispanics dancing the square dance, and Anglos dancing to Mariachi music — that’s possible, let’s work on it.”

Several Holy Cross parishioners attended the press conference in show of support for the bishop-elect. The expressed their joy and gratitude at the announcement.

“The parishioners of Holy Cross know how prepared he is spiritually and intellectually,” said Holy Cross parishioner Maria Rodriguez. “We know his personality and his good sense of humor. He is very coherent with what he preaches.”

Holy Cross Deacon Mario Vielma said that Bishop-elect Rodriguez will make a great shepherd for the ever-growing Hispanic community in Denver.

DENVER, CO - Pope Francis appointed Father Jorge Rodriguez was the next auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Denver Aug. 25, 2016. A press conference announcing the appointment was held at the Cardinal Stafford Library.

Parishioners from Holy Cross, where Bishop-elect Rodriguez currently serves as pastor, attended the press conference in a show of support. (Photo by Andrew Wright)

“Due to the quickly growing Hispanic population, especially in Denver, God put his gaze on [Bishop-elect Rodriguez] to be a new shepherd of that community,” Deacon Vielma said. “I have learned so much from his wisdom, his teachings and the way he addresses the faithful, both in English and Spanish.”

A Mexican-born priest and theologian, Bishop-elect Rodriguez’s connection to Denver dates back to 1999, when then-Archbishop Charles Chaput invited him to leave his post as the dean of the Theology Department of the Pontifical Athenaeum Apostorum in Rome and teach theology at the newly-opened St. John Vianney Seminary.

In 2002, Bishop-elect Rodriguez returned to Rome to serve as associate pastor of Stella Maris parish, but returned to Denver in 2006 and served as vice-rector of St. John Vianney from 2007 to 2014. In 2014, he was assigned to be pastor of Holy Cross parish in Thornton, where he has served since.