Whether it’s the charitable acts of Pope Francis, the church’s emphasis on family or the promotion of worldwide unity, Bishop Plácido Rodriguez of the Lubbock Diocese believes there’s a lot to love about the Roman Catholic faith.
A recent study released by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University revealed the Roman Catholic Diocese of Lubbock grew 69.5 percent between the last two censuses — from 80,472 in 2000 to 136,894 in 2010.
The latter number represents 27.6 percent of the total population in the 25 counties included in the Lubbock diocese.
The Lubbock diocese heads 62 churches, two Catholic schools and two hospitals. Other Catholic involvement in the counties include prison and college campus ministries as well as Special Centers for Social Services and Assistance through Catholic Charities.
An estimated 36,000 Catholics were in the Lubbock diocese when it broke from Amarillo in 1983. Before that, one bishop was overseer of the entire Panhandle region.
“Now there is closer attention to the people, attention to the parishes, and so that the response is growth,” Rodriguez said.
The diocese also emphasizes evangelization by encouraging church members first to be good Catholics and lead by example, and secondly to invite others to church and the various programs parishes offer.
Rodriguez said every parish offers classes for people interested in knowing more about the Catholic faith.
“It is not a mere institution,” Rodriguez said of the Catholic Church, “but it’s a living, organic body of Christ.”