Last June 25, the Positio on the life, virtues and fame of sanctity of the Servant of God Bishop Alphonse Gallegos, OAR, was presented to the Congregation of the Causes of Saints. It answers to the doubt whether the Servant of God practiced in a heroic manner the theological virtues of faith hope and charity to God and to his neighbor and the Cardinal virtues of prudence, justice, temperance and fortitude and has fame of sanctity. It has 640 pages elaborated by Fr. Samson Silloriquez, OAR, Postulator General of the Order of the Augustinian Recollects with the collaboration of Fr. Eliseo Gonzalez, Jr, OAR. It consists primarily of the History of the Cause or the Iter followed from the moment the Cause was opened in the Diocese of Sacramento, California, till it was presented in Rome, the Informatio, which is the presentation of how the Bishop practiced the virtues, the Summarium Testium which are testimonies of 130 witnesses who all knew him personally, an elaborated Documented Biography, the documents pertaining to the Servant of God, and some favors received through his intercession during his life, his death and after his death. The work was directed by Fr. Zdazislaw Kijas, OFMConv, appointed by the Congregation of the Causes of Saints as Relator.
Normally, once the Positio is completed, it is being presented to the Congregation and there it waits for its turn to be studied by the Commission of the Theologians, then by the Commission of the Bishops and Cardinals and finally the Pope confirms his heroic virtues and confer on the Servant of God the title of Venerable. The next phase is the presentation of a miracle through the intercession of the Servant of God for him to be declared blessed. Another miracle is needed for his canonization. Because of the great number of Positio waiting for their turn to be studied, it takes 15 to 17 years of waiting. However, the Congregation can give exemption for those Causes coming from Africa, Asia, Americas and northern Europe. There are few candidates for sainthood from these countries.
Fr. Miguel Miró Miró, OAR, Prior General of the Order of the Augustinian Recollects, together with Fr. Samson Silloriquez, OAR, and Fr. Eliseo Gonzalez, OAR, presented directly the copy of the Positio of Bishop Gallegos to Cardinal Angelo Amato, the prefect of the Congregation of the Causes of Saints, requesting that this be given priority. Bishop Jaime Soto, of the Diocese of Sacramento, also sent a letter to the Cardinal for the same purpose. The Cardinal graciously granted the request and scheduled its study in the year 2016. He indicated that this is a modern cause and Bishop Gallegos would be the first Hispanic saint and an intercessor for the many migrants in the United States, especially the Hispanics.
A brief synthesis of the heroic virtues of Bishop Gallegos
Bishop Alphonse Gallegos, OAR, was on February 20, 1931 in Albuquerque, New Mexico, entered the novitiate of the Order of the Augustinian Recollects on September 2, 1950 and pronounced his first vows on September 3, 1951 in Kansas City. He was ordained to the priesthood on May 24, 1958 in New York, appointed titular Bishop of Sasabe and Auxiliary Bishop of Sacramento, California on September 1, 1981 and had his episcopal ordination on November 4, 1981. A vehicular accident claimed his life on October 6, 1991, at the age of 60.
The Lord did not endow Bishop Gallegos with brilliant intelligence, or a great organizational capacity, or an exceptional oratory, or a sharp ability to confront the problems of his time. Neither did he write books. He had a modest intellectual capacity. Yet one striking characteristic he had, that perhaps only grows in the garden of humility, was his total joyful availability. He did not know how to say “no” to anyone. He ran the risk of a face-to-face encounter with others, with their pain and their joy. He never rushed aimlessly, but put aside his eagerness in order to see and listen to others and gave them hope. In spite of his visual problem, which would have limited his movement, he untiringly dedicated his ministry, first as a priest then as a bishop, to the poor and the sick, the despised and overlooked. He had a special affection to the low riders and the youth, especially those who are out of school, who spent their time in the streets or in the parks, indulged into drugs or committing violence. He was unafraid of going out with them at night, meeting them on their way, entering into conversation with them and always inviting them at the end to go to church on Sunday and to return back to school. They responded willingly because they found in him a father, a friend and someone to go to. He also had a clear stand against abortion, participating at the anti-abortion rallies and praying publicly for the conversion of the abortionists. In some instances he was spat upon, kicked or insulted.
As a Mexican- American, whose roots migrated to America in search of a better life for their families, he also championed the cause of many migrant workers. He went to live with them in the labor camps, spoke in their behalf before the government and found companies to donate for them some of their products. He went out to the existential peripheries, involved himself by word and by deed in their lives, touching the suffering flesh of Christ in others. He took on the “smell of the sheep” and the sheep were willing to hear his voice. (Evangelium Gaudii, 24). He was a shepherd according to the heart of God.
Fr. Samson Silloriquez, OAR