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Formal Closing of the Diocesan Process for the Cause of Canonization of Bishop Alphonse Gallegos, OA

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October 23, 2006 - 12:00 PDT


CONTACT: Rev. James McGuire
Phone: 323-721-1184
Fax: 323-721-5075

October 23, 2006

(Sacramento) - The nearly year-long,intense scrutiny into the life, virtues, and reputation of sanctity of Bishop Alphonse Gallegos, OAR, late Auxiliary Bishop of Sacramento, Ca., will be closed on November 5, 2006. On that date, local Bishop, Most Reverend William K. Weigand, will officially close the diocesan process investigating the cause of possible sainthood for Gallegos. The ceremony will be held in Sacramento's Blessed Sacrament Cathedral at a 1:00 p.m. Mass in Spanish. Bishop Richard J. Garcia, present auxiliary of the diocese, will deliver the homily.

Bishop Weigand had initiated this diocesan phase of the investigation on December 4, 2005, in response to the joint petition of the Diocese of Sacramento and Bishop Gallegos' religious community, the Augustinian Recollects. As required, he had first sought and obtained the 'nulla osta' of the Holy See in Rome.

During the past eleven months, documents and testimonies have been gathered about the sanctity of Bishop Gallegos, who was known throughout the diocese and elsewhere as a gentle man, a loving priest, and a caring bishop. In this time 128 witnesses have presented their testimony; they include 1 cardinal, 5 bishops, 18 priests, 10 religious, and 94 laypeople.

Bishop Gallegos cared especially about the poor, the marginalized, the underprivileged and the unchurched youth; all these groups held a special place in his pastoral activities. His profound prayer life and strong devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe reflected to others the presence of God.

One of eleven children, Alphonse was born in Albuquerque, N.M., February 20, 1931. He spent his early years in San Miguel Parish in Watts, Ca., and was pastor of that parish from 1972-1978, and in Cristo Rey Church in Los Angeles from 1978-1979.

Early in life Alphonse underwent a series of unsuccessful eye operations, and as a result was practically blind. He faced this handicap with faith and courage, never allowing it to prevent him from fulfilling his duties as a religious and pastor of souls.

After entering the Order of Augustinian Recollects at St. Augustine Monastery, Kansas City, Kn., in 1950, he finished his seminary training at Tagaste Monastery, Suffern, N.Y., being ordained to the priesthood on May 24, 1958.

He attended colleges and universities in Missouri and New York, finishing at Loyola Marymount, Los Angeles. Later he served as professor of psychology, prefect of professed religious students, and assistant prior at Tagaste Monastery. He was master of novices at St. Augustine Monastery from 1969-1972.

In Los Angeles he served on the Archdiocesan Advisory Board of Education, and he helped in establishing a program for Spanish-speaking deacons, one of the first of its kind in the U.S. As pastor in Watts he could often be seen walking the streets of that violent and gang-ridden barrio speaking constantly with the young as he tried to persuade them to embrace a better way of life.

In 1979 Father Gallegos moved to Sacramento when he was appointed director for the division of Hispanic Affairs for the California Catholic Conference. He was named Auxiliary Bishop of Sacramento on September 1, l981, and was ordained November 4, 1981, by Bishop Francis A Quinn. He was the first Hispanic bishop in the state capital since 1861.

The bishop's promising career ended on October 6, 1991, in a tragic automobile accident As he was returning home from a Confirmation ceremony, he was killed instantly helping his driver push his disabled car off the highway. Thousands attended his funeral rites in Blessed Sacrament Cathedral.

Bishop Gallegos left a lasting impression wherever he went and is remembered as a holy man, a saint.

All of the acts and documentation will now be passed on to the Congregation for the Cause of Saints in Rome.

Bishop Alphonse will need two miracles before he can be declared a saint. Since he was practically blind for many years, and since he died in a car accident, it would seem that those suffering from eye disease or serious injuries from accidents might fittingly invoke his aid and intercession.

A biography of Bishop Gallegos, "Bishop of the Barrio: He Sees with the Eyes of the Heart" by Father John Oldfield, OAR, (Paulist Press, 2006) will be distributed at the reception following the November 5 Mass

Alphonse Gallegos, OAR


Augustinian Recollects
James Mcguire - priest/member, 323 721-1184





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