LAS CRUCES N.M. - The first and only bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Las Cruces is retiring as soon as the Vatican names a replacement.
Bishop Ricardo Ramirez turned 75 years old last September. Once bishops reach that age, the vatican asks them to resign.
"I'll be retiring cause I'm 75 years old," Ramirez said. "When we're 75 years old we start getting ready to retire."
Ramirez was appointed bishop of the newly established Catholic Diocese of Las Cruces by the pope in 1982.
Las Cruces Catholic Imelda Torres doesn't want Bishop Ramirez to retire just yet.
"We hope he can stay a little longer with us, but if he is retired from that position we will be very sad," Torres said.
Mary Helen Llanez said it's Ramirez's personality and accessibility that make the bishop so popular.
"He's the people's bishop," Llanez said. "He reaches out to the people, the people can call him and they can come see him."
Ramirez said it will take several months for the Vatican to appoint his successor. He plans on continuing to fulfill his duties as bishop until then.