RIO HONDO — His kindness and spiritual leadership already is missed.
So city officials presented Father Rigobert Mot the key to the city to show he will always be welcomed back.
Father Mot will leave the area tomorrow to head back to his home country of Cameroon, Africa.
The bishop of Africa has requested his return and will give Father Mot his new assignment.
Father Mot served as the father of Rio Hondo Saint Helen’s Catholic Church for the past four and a half years.
“I’m going back to Africa, but let me tell you something really true,” Father Mot said Tuesday. “My heart is going to be with you all the time.”
City commissioners and the Mayor proclaimed Jan. 12 Father Rigobert Mot Day.
Father Mot is known to many of his parishioners at Saint Helen’s Catholic Church as Father Rigo. Many of them joined him at the city meeting Tuesday night.
Mayor Gustavo Olivares said, “You have done so much for us and the city of Rio Hondo.”
Many of the Catholic congregation were at the meeting to celebrate with Father Rigo and see him one last time.
Many were sad to see him go because he had made a huge impact in many of the people’s lives in Rio Hondo.
“We’re very blessed to have Father Rigo in our lives,” said Maria Cardenas, Rio Hondo resident. “We were very blessed and thank God for allowing him to stay with us for as long as he did.”
Laura Zepeda and her family were at mass on Sundays with Father Rigo. He would visit their home and he was there for them when they needed him.
“He’s an angel,” Zepada said. “I miss him already.”
Father Rigo was with the Zepeda’s when their mother was battling breast cancer.
The two became friends and it was as if they had known each other all their lives.
“Every visit we had with him in our home felt like it was Jesus in our home,” Zepeda said.
“I was very comfortable serving the Lord with this congregation,” Father Rigo said. “I have never seen people this nice.”
Father Rigo said he was born Catholic and grew up with the devotion of prayer from a very young age at home.
He and his parents would pray every morning together in Africa long before he went into the priesthood.
He came to the Rio Grande Valley six years ago serving the Brownsville Diocese as a hospital Chaplin.
He helped the poor, fed the hungry, and visited the sick at the hospital or their home.
Father Rigo held his last mass on Sunday in Rio Hondo at St. Helens. The community organized a going away party. More than 600 people attended the event.
Father Rigo said he delivered the message of the gospel centering on love, love for God and love for one another.
Father Rigo prayed for the city of Rio Hondo on the first Thursday of May for the last two years.
He also led in the repair of St. Helen’s Church that was originally built in 1933.
The church ceiling was falling apart and with his effort, Father Rigo also was able to fix the air conditioner, replace the carpet and the pews.
“He’s always welcome to come back and that is what the key signifies,” said Ben Medina, city administrator. “He’s been very supportive of our city and very supportive of the community.”