The Most Rev. Robert McElroy, Roman Catholic bishop of San Diego, announced the death today of retired Auxiliary Bishop Gilberto Chávez, at age 87, a revered spiritual leader of Catholics across the region, particularly Latinos. He died Sunday, March 15,  at a local retirement home after months of hospice care due to failing health.

Bishop Chávez served the San Diego diocese for 60 years, 46 of them as auxiliary bishop. During this era, the San Diego region’s population grew rapidly, particularly among Hispanics. Bishop Chávez championed initiatives both at the diocese and in the broader U.S. Catholic Church to serve Latinos, particularly with Spanish-language ministry…

He was born Gilberto Espinoza Chávez on May 9, 1932, in Ontario, Calif., one of six children in a devoutly Catholic family that had emigrated from Mexico. After high school, he entered the seminary in San Diego and was ordained in 1960 by Bishop Charles Buddy. He served in assignments across Southern California, including a four-year stint as chaplain at a state drug and rehabilitation center in Norco. While working in the prison system, he decided to pursue a college degree from UC Riverside to better prepare him for challenges to come. Pope Paul VI named him auxiliary bishop in 1974, only the second Hispanic bishop at the time in the nation….

He had requested a public fiesta be held in San Ysidro to celebrate his life. That celebration will be held after the COVID-19 crisis has ended.

The above comes from a March 16 release from the San Diego diocese.