Despedida for Father Epi and Father Benito

Father Benito Retortillo, Father Epi Rodriguez and Alfredo Cardenas in front of St. Francis de Paula after Mass on June 16 after a Mass to say farewell to the two longtime San Diego priests.
Corpus Christi Bishop Wm. Michael Mulvey celebrated a Mass before some 900 people at St. Francis de Paula Catholic Church in San Diego on June 16 to say farewell to the community's two longtime Dominican priests. The standing-room-only crowd came out to say goodbye to their two beloved priests, Father Benito Retortillo and Father Epi Rodriguez, who will be returning to Spain on July 1. Also on hand was their Provincial Superior from Spain.

Bishop Mulvey asked for those that had been married by either Father Epi and Father Benito to stand; and standing-room--only took on a special meaning. The bishop said, the two Dominicans-and their Dominican brothers before them-had brought the Catholic faith not only to San Diego but to many surrounding communities. Among those present were parishioners of St. Joseph in Palito Blanco, a mission of St. Francis de Paula.

While it was a sad occasion, it was also a time to rejoice.The bishop told the worshipers that they should continue to build on the seed of faith implanted by the two priests. Father Epi has been in San Diego for 57 years and Father Benito for more than 32 years. The Dominican Province of Spain has recalled all their priests in the United States, due to a shortage of vocations.

A plaque recognizing the contributions of the Dominican Order will be placed in the Church. Fathers Epi and Benito both received proclamations from the Texas Senate recognizing their contributions to South Texas.

After Mass, a luncheon reception was hosted at the parochial hall where a Mariachi entertained the large crowd.
Bishop Mulvey (center) celebrates Mass with, from left, Deacon Abelardo Garza, Father Epi, Father Benito, and Msgr. Louis Kihneman, Vicar General for the Diocese of Corpus Christi.