Hundreds came out to remember a prominent local Catholic church leader Thursday morning, a man widely beloved for his positive community involvement.
Rodriguez Jr. died suddenly on Aug. 4 from pneumonia, when he was 61 years old. “Father Henry,” as he was known, spent his career working in San Diego and contributed decades of his life to community service.
Community members came out to remember the leader at his Funeral Mass Thursday morning, at St. Jude Shrine of the West. The burial at the Holy Cross Cemetery followed the 10 a.m. service. The principal celebrant was Monsignor Edward Brockhaus, an old friend of the priest.
“For what it's worth, Father Henry was very well known in the community. A really great guy,” said Aida Bustos, an official for the Roman Catholic Diocese of San Diego. “We've interviewed him several times, though it's probably been a long time. I know he was in our Town of Hope documentary with Stan Hay.”
Father Henry most recently served as a pastor of St. John the Evangelist Parish, where he started this summer. He was ordained for the diocese on Jul. 12, 1986 and served as an associate pastor at St. Rose of Lima parish in Chula Vista from 1986 to 1989.
Previously, Father Henry was known for his work as a long-time pastor for St. Jude’s parish in San Diego’s Southcrest neighborhood and associate pastor at St. Therese of the Child Jesus in Del Cerro. He started there in 1989 and stayed for eight years.
In addition to his regular work commitments, he went out of his way to contribute to parishes across the diocese, particularly supporting the Latino congregations.
Besides that, Father Henry served more than 25 years as the Catholic chaplain for the San Diego Police Department and the San Diego Fire and Rescue Department. He also worked for the San Diego Hospice and Scripps Mercy Hospital.
For decades, he played a pivotal role in the community as a local Catholic leader. This included advocating for social justice on a breadth of issues, as well as working for the San Diego Organizing Project and other community organizations.
Father Henry went above and beyond his duties as a pastor, and began the process of reaching out to the LGBT community, meeting with parishioners and their families.