Bishop Ochoa holds first mass in the Central Valley

FRESNO, Calif.

The newly appointed bishop of the Fresno Catholic Diocese received a warm welcome from many parishioners. "I've been watching him on TV and I just wanted to, he just seems like a really happy, wonderful man," said Deanna Azzaro of Fresno.

More than 200 people turned out to meet Bishop Armando Ochoa at one of two masses he officiated Thursday. "Usually, the 12 o'clock not that many people come but when I heard he was coming I called the Father to say, is that true. He said, 'Frances, it is true.'"

After mass, hundred more waited in line to get a chance to meet the bishop. He greeted worshipers in both English and Spanish. "The fact that he's bilingual and the majority of the people, we have a big majority of Hispanics here so I think that will be very helpful and he'll be very welcomed here," said Aurora Cabral of Fresno.

Some people even got a bit emotional after meeting the bishop. "He just made it my day when he shook my hand," said Rick Flores of Fresno.

"I'm glad he's here, finally. It's been quite a long time since we had a bishop," said college student Joshua Matkin. Matkin hopes the new leader gets more younger people like him involved with the church.

"I think getting younger people involved early on will definitely have a huge impact on the future of the church," said Matkin.

"It's a wonderful welcoming community. I had no doubt that it would be a wonderful reception and it has been very, very much what I expected," said Bishop Ochoa. He is overwhelmed with all the attention he's been getting but still calls himself 'the new kid on the block.'

"I just don't even know where all the communities are. I keep referring to my map when they tell me where they're from so I'm very anxious to be able to go out and visit and meet the different faith communities because it just seems like a very wonderful thing," said Bishop Ochoa.

Ochoa will have less than 2 months to study the Fresno map and familiarize himself with the area. He leaves for Texas Friday morning but will return to Fresno to officially take the helm of the diocese on February 1st.

Copyright © 2021 KFSN-TV. All Rights Reserved.