CRS Partners - Mr. Rodrigo Valdivia
Rodrigo “Rod” Valdivia has been the CRS Diocesan Director in the Diocese of San Diego since February 1991. He has also served as the Director of the Office of Multicultural Affairs since 1994. More recently, he has become the Chancellor for the diocese. As Chancellor, he is responsible for overseeing the pastoral and administrative functions of the diocesan Pastoral Center. He sees his work as a way to help individuals, parishes, and his diocese live out the universal ministry of the Church.
During his time with the Diocese of San Diego, Rod has had the opportunity to interact with many faithful and spirit-filled people. One of the more significant moments for him was the time he was called to drive Mother Teresa during her visit to the diocese. He also participated in the investigation into her life in preparation for her recent beatification.
Rod feels that some of the strongest influences in his life were his father and his teachers and coaches as he was growing up. He says that his father instilled in him the importance of responsibility, determination and education. His teachers and coaches reaffirmed these important lessons while also teaching Rod awareness, confidence and affirmation.
Family is important to Rod. He remains close with his extended family and feels that his relationships with his wife, Diane, and two young daughters, Taylor and Nicole ages 1 ½ and 4, are the most important in his life. When not working, Rod spends time with his family and is active in his parish. He and his wife enjoy traveling even though they are finding it more difficult to do so right now with their daughters being so young. He also enjoys bicycling.
Rod is originally from Chile, but he moved from there when he was still quite young. He lived in Caracas, Venezuela for a short time before moving to Kettering, Ohio. San Diego, California has been Rod’s home for the past 30 years, though he spent some time in Europe while he was in graduate school.
Through his life and travels, Rod has experienced several moments when he knew that he was engaged in solidarity with his brothers and sisters from other parts of the world. He recalled a time while he was stranded in Germany and was aided by a Czechoslovakian traveler who assisted him in finding lodging for the night. Another experience that Rod recounted was from when he and his wife were traveling in Costa Rica and an annual fundraising event, similar to the Muscular Dystrophy telethon here in the United States, was underway. As a part of the fund-raising effort, youth would go out to busy intersections throughout the area to solicit donations from local motorists. Rod says that he and his wife saw many of these youth and their first instinct was that they were simply panhandlers or beggars so they didn’t stop to offer any assistance. As the day progressed, they eventually saw some youth hitchhiking and decided to offer them a ride back to town. As it turned out, the youth were associated with the fund-raising effort and shared information about the effort with Rod and his wife. Once Rod knew what the fund-raising effort was all about, he realized that it was something that had a direct impact on his family back in the states. He saw the value in their actions and realized that there was a strong link even though they were from different parts of the world. An important lesson that he learned from this experience was to be open to the good efforts of other people. If they had not picked up the hitchhikers, he and his wife would have continued to have a negative perception of the youth’s efforts, which could not have been further from the truth.
Rod has witnessed that people, no matter where they are, have needs and obstacles to overcome. He sees the mission of CRS in the United States to educate people about the needs and obstacles faced by our brothers and sisters overseas. He feels that the best way to reach people here in the United States is through CRS’ overseas trips such as Called to Witness and Frontiers of Justice, but realizes the impossibility of providing such trips for every Catholic. He feels that short of allowing everyone to visit our programs throughout the world, Operation Rice Bowl is probably the best program the CRS offers to teach individuals in the United States about the realities in other parts of the world and the efforts being undertaken by CRS.
Click here to view all available diocesan director profiles.