Sacramento bishop's cause for beatification advances, testimonies being gathered

.- In October of 1991, Auxiliary Bishop Alfonso Gallegos of Sacramento died in a car accident. His Christian virtues, his defense of the unborn and his devotion to the needy, especially to immigrants, led to the opening of his cause of beatification, which recently received a new boost.

According to the late bishop’s religious congregation, the Augustinian Recollects, “The diocese (of Sacramento) is preparing a more than 1000-page report that summarizes the testimonies of more than 100 people about the virtuous life of Bishop Gallegos, and the declarations of those who claimed that the Bishop had interceded in their favor since his death 18 years ago.”

The report is expected to be sent to the Vatican by the end of the year.

Bishop Alfonso Gallegos Apocada is the son of Joseph and Caciana Gallegos and had 10 siblings. He was born in Albuquerque, New Mexico, on February 20, 1931. From an early age he suffered with eye problems and had difficulty reading.

At the age of 19 he entered the Augustinian Recollects and was ordained eight years later.

He devoted his ministry to the education of young people and to working with gangs. In 1979 he was named the first director of the Office of Hispanic Affairs of California.

On November 4, 1981, he was consecrated Auxiliary Bishop of Sacramento. “He was known for his constant joy, the patience he showed with this limited vision and his kindness and affection towards all, even those who made his ministry difficult. He also had an intense prayer life and commitment to the poor and the needy, especially the Hispanic immigrants who sought a better future in the United States,” his congregation stated.

Bishop Gallegos always supported the right to protest against abortion and prayed for the conversion of abortionists. He preached strongly against the culture of death, abortion and atomic weapons.

He died in a car accident on October 6, 1991, at the age of 60. Earlier that day he had joined the community in praying the Rosary for the end of abortion. In 2005, his cause of beatification was opened and one year later the diocesan phase was concluded. The case is now moving forward at the Vatican.

Speaking to the Sacramento Bee, Angela Zapata of Elk Grove, Calif. said she was thrilled about the news.  Her daughter Angelica was born prematurely and suffered from a brain hemorrhage. Doctors said she would only live a few days.

Things changed when an Augustinian Recollect priest visited them at the hospital and placed a holy card of the bishop in the incubator, baptized the baby and wrapped him in the stole of the deceased bishop.

Angelica “is now two years old, healthy and happy,” Zapata told the newspaper.

Fifteen-year old Sara Sevilla, born in Oxnard, told the Sacramento Bee that she was almost blind and that the intercession of Bishop Gallegos restored her vision a year ago: “My family and I prayed, asking for his help. I started to feel warmth all over my body and then I regained my eyesight.”

Supporters of the cause for sainthood of Bishop Gallegos have asked permission from Rome to transfer his body from St. Mary Cemetery to the Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe, a parish in the heart of Sacramento where he served. 

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