Venerable Alfonso Gallegos [Biography]

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Alfonso Gallegos was born during hard times.  The Great Depression of the 1930’s was worldwide. It was made more excruciating in the United States of America when the dry spell, the longest in modern American history, struck the Great Plains, affecting mainly the Midwest and the Southwest, the states of Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, and New Mexico. These areas became known as the Dust Bowl.

The lack of economic stability and the fear of starvation led people to flee their homelands in search of better opportunities. Thousands fled to California, which itself was reeling from high unemployment and low wages. This economic situation led to social unrest, worsened by the government’s default on spending that adversely affected all public services including education.

It was then during this time in a place not far from California, in Albuquerque, New Mexico, that the baby boy Alfonso was born.  It was February 20, 1931.  At the age of 7, the little boy and his family took the lead of the many others and moved to Watts, Los Angeles, California hoping for the better.  Watts was a home to a growing community of Mexicans and Mexican American migrants. It was among them that Alfonso grew up until he left his home in 1950 to enter in the seminary of the Order of Augustinian Recollects in Kansas City. He was ordained priest in 1958.

Four years after his priestly ordination, he was assigned as pastor in his home parish in Watts. Here he dedicated his primary attention to the out-of-school youth who were prone to drugs and criminal activities. But the young Father Alfonso did not judge them, must less evaded them. Rather he spent time with them and encouraged and even helped them to go back to school and obtain university degree. This move brought about a change of life to many who heeded his encouragement. His pastoral care improved the environment of the area. Church attendance increased, crime rates dropped and people felt safe to go around. He infused hope into the community.

Aware of the growing population of the Hispanic migrants in California, in 1979 the California Bishops Conference named Alfonso Gallegos as the first Director of the Hispanic Affairs, California Catholic Conference. Its main objective was to organize and implement programs for the benefit of the Spanish-speaking migrants coming to the United States. In these Hispanic Affairs, Gallegos kept up with legislation and issues affecting the Hispanic community and provided this information to the Bishops. His appointment in 1981 as Auxiliary Bishop of Sacramento was a recognition of the new demographics and a response to the need for ecclesiastical leadership for this rapidly growing Hispanic population. Gallegos was the first Mexican-American Bishop to serve the Church in Sacramento since 1861.

He visited and stayed with the migrants in the labour camps, spoke out for them before the government legislators and assured them of the welcoming embrace of the Church. He would spend various nights during the week with the youth in the parks, befriended gang members by talking to them, encouraging them to leave behind drugs and criminal activities and strive for a better future. He blessed the cars of the “low riders” and rode with them. He championed the right of the unborn children. Everyone had a place in his agenda, the poor, the sick, the aged and those in prisons regardless of their creed, colour and culture. He was a Bishop always on the move, spending most of his time with his flock. As one witness during the diocesan process testified, “Bishop Gallegos was always trying to be there for every one, that at times, he would forget to take care of himself”.

Now a day, the world needs shepherds whose life is configured to Christ; shepherds who do not ask for what they stand to gain but what they can give to others; shepherds who do not seek to win people for themselves but to lose themselves for others. People want to see a joyful zeal in the ministers of Christ, ministers who carry out their task with enthusiasm, thus, giving credible witness to the Gospel message. Bishop Gallegos´ life is a response to these noble aspirations. Although throughout his life he had to bear the serious effects of his myopic eye problem, never for an instance did he lose his optimism. His wide smile was a constant mark of his personality. “What a beautiful day!” was his usual expression. He was not a scholar nor considered an intellectual but his preaching touched people’s hearts because God had first touched his own. He chose as motto for his episcopal coat of arms “Love one another”.

Asked how he wanted to be remembered, Bishop Gallegos said, “I would like to be remembered as having helped the young people how to appreciate who they are and to value the life God has given them. I would also like to be remembered as having appreciated people and all that they have to offer in making the world a better place to live in” (The Sacramento Bee Magazine, January 18, 1987).

A vehicular accident in the evening of October 6, 1991 claimed the life of this Hispanic Bishop at the age of 60. Earlier during the day, he joined a march against abortion, visited a young AIDS patient and finally administered the sacrament of confirmation to 71 candidates. His funeral claims the record attendance of grieving people in the diocese of Sacramento up to now.

A year after his death, a street connecting the State Capitol Building and the Cathedral of Sacramento was named “Bishop Gallegos Square”. It serves as bridge to bring the teaching of Jesus to the lawmakers, reminding them that one of their important and sacred duties is to help the migrants find a better place for themselves and for their families. His bronze statue stands in this same place. On March 27, 2010, his mortal remains were transferred to a new tomb in Our Lady of Guadalupe National Shrine.

Considering his saintly life and his intercessory prayers before the Lord, the diocesan process for his Cause of beatification and canonization was opened on December 4, 2005 at the Cathedral of Sacramento. After interviewing 130 witnesses and gathering the pertinent available documents, the process was concluded on November 5, 2006. The Congregation of the Causes of Saints in Vatican approved the validity of the diocesan process on July 4, 2008. The Positio on his life, virtues and fame of sanctity was submitted to the same Congregation on June 27, 2014. The Theologians approved his heroic virtues on March 17, 2016. The Congress of the Cardinals and Bishops gave their affirmative votes on July 5, 2016. Finally, on July 8, 2016, Pope Francis authorized the Congregation of the Causes of Saints to promulgate the decree attesting to his sanctity of life and the heroic practice of virtues.

With a miracle attributed to his intercession he can be declared blessed and with one more he will be due for canonization.  For now we rejoice and content ourselves with the assurance of his sanctity as the Church recognizes the Bishop of the Barrio as Venerable Alfonso Gallegos.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Frei Bo

Frei Bo

Priest-Religious of the Order of Augustinian Recollects, Province of St. Ezekiel Moreno. Webmaster.

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< 2021 >
January
SMTuWThFS
     1
  • All day
    January 1, 2021

    SOLEMNITY OF MARY, MOTHER OF GOD

    54th WORLD DAY OF PEACE

    BIRTHDAY
    Sr. Cristita Cha, AR

2
  • All day
    January 2, 2021

    ATTENTION: Provincial-Level Christmas Party is CANCELLED.

    SIMPLE PROFESSION OF VOWS OF FRAY CHRISLEAN REY PAMILAGA
    SEMONORE, Antipolo City / 10:00 A.M.

    BIRTHDAY
    Bro. Conrado Flores, SAR (Antipolo Chapter)
    Sis. Emma Toro, SAR (Valencia Chapter)
    Sis. Marcelina Nicolas, SAR (Tondo Chapter)

    DEATH ANNIVERSARY
    +Sis. Rizalina Salera, SAR (Cavite Chapter)

3
  • All day
    January 3, 2021

    SOLEMNITY OF THE EPIPHANY

    500th Year of the Excommunication of Martin Luther (1521-2021)

    60th Anniversary of the Establishment of a Catholic Hierarchy in Indonesia

    BIRTHDAY
    Sr. Ma. Bella Mojica, AR
    Sis. Basilisa Espinola, SAR (Miranila Chapter)
    Sis. Carmencita Abis, SAR (Manila Chapter)
    Sis. Melodina Paragat, SAR (Talisay Chapter)

    DEATH ANNIVERSARY
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4
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    January 4, 2021

    BIRTHDAY
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    Sis Mary Grace Susas, SAR (Talisay Chapter)
    Fran Cheska Marie Andan (RAY-Laray)

    DEATH ANNIVERSARY
    +Sr. Regina Cadiz, AR
    +Sr. Adelaida Elli, AR

5
  • All day
    January 5, 2021

    BIRTHDAY
    Sis Estelita Divinagracia, SAR (Miranila Chapter)
    Bro. Jose Pepito Gabriel Bonete, SAR (Puerto Princesa Chapter)
    Sis. Emiliana Carao, SAR (Cebu Chapter)
    Leila Barizo (RAY-Cavite)

    DEATH ANNIVERSARY
    +Sr. Ma. Cleofe Claro, AR
    +Fray Casiano Cosmilla
    [Attention Recoletos de Manila Community: “the community to which he belongs will celebrate… Mass on the first anniversary of his death” (Add. Code 94a)]

6
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    January 6, 2021

    BIRTHDAY
    Sis. Sylvia Evina, SAR (Puerto Princesa Chapter)
    Sis. Grace Aba-a, SAR (Cebu Chapter)

    DEATH ANNIVERSARY
    +Sr. Juana de la Merced, AR
    +Bro. Rustico Magdales, SAR (Manila Chapter)

7
  • All day
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    BIRTHDAY
    Sis. Eliza Stubbs, SAR (Miranila Chapter)

8
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    January 8, 2021

    RST: START OF ENROLMENT

    BIRTHDAY
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    Sr. Leticia Cerdeño, AR

9
  • All day
    January 9, 2021

    FEAST OF THE BLACK NAZARENE
    (The traditional Traslación is canceled due to Covid-19)

    BIRTHDAY
    Sr. Rosario Bianes, AR
    Sis. Marcelina Taguinod, SAR (Tondo Chapter)

    DEATH ANNIVERSARY
    |+Sr. Dominga Gargarita, AR

10
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    January 10, 2021

    FEAST OF THE BAPTISM OF THE LORD

    DEATH ANNIVERSARY
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    +Sr. Paulina de la Purisima Corazon de Maria, AR

11
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    BIRTHDAY

    Sr. Catalina Ruiz, AR
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    Ian Gabrielle Canlubo (RAY-Cavite)

    DEATH ANNIVERSARY
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    +Sis. Elena Caballero, SAR (San Carlos Chapter)

12
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    BIRTHDAY
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    DEATH ANNIVERSARY
    +Sis. Bro. Hilario Torcedo, SAR (Baguio Chapter)
    +Sr. Ma. Fortunata Gayumale Gaspillo, AR

13
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    January 13, 2021

    ANNIVERSARY OF EPISCOPAL ORDINATION
    (1998-2021)
    Archbp. Jose Palma, D.D. (Archdiocese of Cebu)

    BIRTHDAY
    Bro. Jonathan Casiño, SAR (Provincialate Chapter)
    Bro. Antonio Sonsona, SAR (Tondo Chapter)

    DEATH ANNIVERSARY
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14
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    January 14, 2021

    BIRTHDAY
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    Bro. Jose Valdez, SAR (Provincialate Chapter)
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    DEATH ANNIVERSARY
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15
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    BIRTHDAY
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    Bro. Maximo Epanto, SAR (Cebu Chapter)

    DEATH ANNIVERSARY
    +Sr. Ma. Virgin de la Consolacion, AR

16
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    COMMEMORATION OF THE DEAD RELATIVES OF THE MEMBERS OF THE ORDER

    BIRTHDAY
    Mo. Maria del Carmen, OAR (Bacolod)
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    DEATH ANNIVERSARY
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    +Sis. Amelia Casiño, SAR (Provincialate Chapter)

17
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    FEAST OF THE STO. NINO

    BIRTHDAY
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    DEATH ANNIVERSARY
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    +Sr. Cesaria Barbarona, AR

18
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    January 18, 2021

    WEEK OF PRAYER FOR CHRISTIAN UNITY
    Inclusive dates: January 18-25, 2021
    Theme: “Abide in my love and you shall bear much fruit” (John 16:1-17)

    BIRTHDAY
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    Sis. Guia Gonzales, SAR (Provincialate Chapter)

19
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    BIRTHDAY
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    Sis. Myrna Amante, SAR (Tondo Chapter)

20
  • All day
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    ST. SEBASTIAN (PATRON SAINT OF MANILA & CAVITE COMMUNITIES, DIOCESE OF BACOLOD)

    SSC-R MANILA’s FOUNDATION CELEBRATIONS
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    BIRTHDAY
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    Sis. Mercedes Velada, SAR (Tondo Chapter)

21
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    BIRTHDAY
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    Sis. Anecita Paglinawan, SAR (Laray Chapter)

22
  • All day
    January 22, 2021

    BIRTHDAY
    Most Rev. Victor Bendico, DD (Bishop of Baguio)

23
  • All day
    January 23, 2021

    BIRTHDAY
    Bro. Marciano Cleofas, SAR (Provincialate Chapter)
    Sis. Gloria Acosta, SAR (Manila Chapter)
    Sis. Esterlina Silva, SAR (San Carlos Chapter)
    Sis. Rosemarie Gaspar, SAR (Valencia Chapter)
    Judith Mondejar (RAY-Caidiocan)
    Kathrine Bacalso (RAY-Laray)

    DEATH ANNIVERSARY
    +Sr. Gertrudis del Pilar, AR
    +Sr. Cresencia Vailoces, AR

24
  • All day
    January 24, 2021

    SUNDAY OF THE WORD OF GOD
    [NOTE: Pope Francis’ Apostolic Letter, Motu proprio Aperuit illis, published on 30 September 2019, establishes that “the Third Sunday in Ordinary Time is to be devoted to the celebration, study and dissemination of the Word of God”.]

    BIRTHDAY
    Sr. Ma. Paz Bawagan, AR
    Sr. Faith Niña Fuertes, AR
    Sis. Florida San Juan, SAR (Tondo Chapter)
    Sis. Raymunda Co, SAR (Laray Chapter)
    Analyn Martinez (RAY-Valencia)

25
  • All day
    January 25, 2021

    SOLEMNITY OF THE CONVERSION OF ST. PAUL

    CSNT-Rs 50th (1971-2021) FOUNDING ANNIVERSARY Inclusive dates: January 25-30, 2021

    BIRTHDAY
    Sis. Erlinda Casaje, SAR (Manila Chapter)
    Bro. Rodelio Gasparillo, SAR (Bacolod Chapter)
    Bro. Feddie Junsay, SAR (Bacolod Chapter)
    Joelle Maria Mendoza (RAY-Miranila)

    DEATH ANNIVERSARY
    Sr. Ma. Lucia Sagmit, AR

26
  • All day
    January 26, 2021

    BIRTHDAY
    Fray Cristopher Maspara
    Sis. Henrietta Morales, SAR (Antipolo Chapter)

    ANNIVERSARY OF EPISCOPAL ORDINATION
    (2005-2021)
    Most Rev. Reynaldo Evangelista, D.D. (Diocese of Imus)

    DEATH ANNIVERSARY
    +Sis. Margarita Zafra, SAR (Antipolo Chapter)

27
  • All day
    January 27, 2021

    BIRTHDAY
    Sr. Marilyn Cula, AR
    Sr. Remilyn Leonido, AR
    Sis. Evelyn Balingit, SAR (Antipolo Chapter)

    DEATH ANNIVERSARY
    +Sis. Murita Jara, SAR (Tondo Chapter)

28
  • All day
    January 28, 2021

    BIRTHDAY
    Fray Louie Gabinete

    DEATH ANNIVERSARY
    Sr. Fernanda del Pilar, AR
    Sr. Ines Garcia, AR

29
  • All day
    January 29, 2021

    LAUNCHING OF HEART SOLIDARITY CAMPAIGN 2021 / Province of St. Ezekiel Moreno only

    BIRTHDAY
    Sr. Francisca Rojas, AR
    Sis. Lourdes Insigne, SAR (Antipolo Chapter)
    Jona Mendoza (RAY-Miranila)

30
  • All day
    January 30, 2021

    BIRTHDAY
    Fray Jonathan Caballero
    Sr. Angelica Fuentes, AR
    Sr. Pascualina Peral, AR
    Sis. Violeta Siozon, SAR (Antipolo Chapter)
    Sis. Fedencia dela Criz, SAR (Brooke’s Point Chapter)
    Sis. Minerva Alcarde, SAR (San Carlos Chapter)

31
  • All day
    January 31, 2021

    4TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME

    68th WORLD LEPROSY DAY

    BIRTHDAY
    Sr. Josephine Ativo, AR
    Sis. Saturnina Antolihao, SAR (Tondo Chapter)
    Lance Raven Lapinig (RAY-Talisay)

      

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