POSTED: Monday, January 16, 2012 - 11:57pm
UPDATED: Wednesday, January 18, 2012 - 9:56am
EL PASO - Hundreds filled Saint Patrick's Cathedral Monday night to bid farewell to Bishop Armando Ochoa.
Ochoa served as bishop of the Catholic Diocese of El Paso for 15 years. He was appointed bishop in 1996. Ochoa informed parishioners in December he would be leaving to California after being appointed fifth bishop of the Diocese of Fresno by the Vatican.
He began his final mass in El Paso Monday night by acknowledging those in the audience.
"Thank you. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. You have allowed me to build the kingdom of god," said Ochoa.
His final mass came just days after he filed a lawsuit against Father Michael Rodriguez. Rodriguez was a priest at the San Juan Bautista Parish. He has since been temporarily reassigned to Presidio, Texas.
According to the lawsuit filed on January 11th, Ochoa says Rodriguez wasn't depositing donations into the proper account and accuses him of mishandling church money.
Rodriguez defended himself against the allegation in a written statement released on January 12th.
"On September 20, 2011, I opened my heart to my bishop, like a son to a father, and was completely honest and forthcoming with him as to the financial affairs of San Juan Bautista. I told him everything. He chose not to believe me," said Rodriguez in the statement.
Even with the pending lawsuit, parishioners said they were grateful for Ochoa's service. Dolores Ornelas attended the farewell mass and said the bishop will be missed.
"Thank you for your dedication. Thank you for your support. Thank you for your positive outlook. God bless you, god speed and our loss is Fresno's gain," said Ornelas.