Bishop Raymundo J. Peña

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Bishop Raymundo J. Peña, retired bishop of Brownsville, Texas, who was an advocate of immigrant rights and opposed the border wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, died Sept. 24. He was 87.

A Funeral Mass was celebrated Sept. 30 at the Basilica of Our Lady of San Juan del Valle-National Shrine in San Juan, Texas. Interment was at Rose Lawn Mausoleum in McAllen, Texas.

“During his time as shepherd of the people of the Rio Grande Valley he lived his motto, ‘Haz todo con amor’ (‘Do everything with love’), taken from 1 Corinthians 16:14,” said Brownsville Bishop Daniel E. Flores, who succeeded Bishop Peña when he retired in 2009 at age 75.

Born in Robstown, Texas, Bishop Peña was ordained a priest in 1957 in the Diocese of Corpus Christi, Texas. He served 19 years in the diocese.

Bishop Peña was one of the country’s youngest bishops when St. John Paul II in 1976 appointed him at age 42 as auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of San Antonio. Four years later he was named bishop of the Diocese of El Paso, Texas, and served the Church there until being installed in Brownsville in 1995.

In El Paso, Bishop Peña founded the Tepeyac Institute as a formation center for lay people in 1988. He also established The Rio Grande Catholic, the diocesan newspaper, in 1991.

In a statement, the diocese said Bishop Peña was a strong advocate for immigration rights along the border and a critic of President Bill Clinton’s plans to build a border fence in El Paso in the 1990s.

In Brownsville, Bishop Peña worked to increase vocations to the priesthood. By the time of his retirement, he had ordained almost half the diocesan priests and nearly tripled the number of seminarians.—CNS