The Rev. Hector Villegas, pastor of St. Joachim Catholic Church in Newman, died Friday at 4 p.m. after a short illness. He would have been 49 on Sunday.
Doctors Medical Center Foundation in Modesto released a statement saying the priest had entered the hospital with respiratory problems Feb. 21 and died because his organs shut down, but there were no further details.
The Mexican-born priest was ordained in the Stockton Diocese in 2002 and served at St. Stanislaus Catholic Church in Modesto, where he became the interim pastor after the Rev. Bill McDonald took a leave of absence in 2005. In 2007, Villegas became pastor at the Newman church.
A vigil will be held Wednesday at St. Joachim, with a funeral Mass on Thursday at St. Stanislaus Catholic Church. Times and other details were pending Friday night.