Ordaining deacons on the feast of the archangels Michael, Gabriel and Raphael, Bishop Austin A.…
Will one of these men be the next American bishop to be canonized?
As many would likely tell you themselves, bishops in the United States have been called a lot of names, with Most Reverend and Your Excellency making up only part of the list. But there’s one name currently under consideration for a select few that matters most: that of saint. Only one American bishop has been canonized — the holy Philadelphian St. John Neumann. Might one of these six diocesan ordinaries and auxiliary bishops be the next? Their stories are different, yet similar. In the end they all manifest the truth in what the late Cardinal Francis E. George, OMI, once observed: that “the bishop becomes holy only with and through his people.”
Venerable Alphonse Gallegos, OAR
Born a twin on Feb. 20, 1931, in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Alphonse Gallegos was a fourth generation Mexican-American and son of a carpenter. When the 11 Gallegos children moved to the Watts area of Los Angeles, they attended public schools. As a child, and later as a seminarian, Gallegos dealt with a severe eye condition that necessitated many surgeries. Nearly blind, he was forced to see only with the help of thick eyeglass lenses.
At 19, Gallegos joined the Order of Augustinian Recollects and was eventually ordained to the priesthood at his community’s Suffern, New York, monastery in 1958. After ordination, he sought advanced degrees in psychology, religious studies and education, hoping to help inner-city youth. Even after losing one of his eyes, Gallegos applied himself to ministry in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, where he served multiple parishes as pastor and advised the cardinal archbishop on Hispanic ministry. Gallegos worked to promote harmony and reconciliation among opposing street gangs, taking to the streets of the barrios, or poorer Hispanic neighborhoods, without fear. In this way and in others, he was passionately pro-life.
His wisdom and experience within the Hispanic community caught the attention of California’s bishops, and they appointed him to oversee similar communities on behalf of the California Catholic Conference, which brought him to the state capital of Sacramento. Two years later, in 1981, Pope John Paul II named Gallegos an auxiliary bishop of Sacramento — a great sign of hope for and recognition of the Hispanic community in California.
As an auxiliary bishop in Sacramento, Gallegos served as vicar general, directed the Hispanic apostolate and served as pastor of the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
Gallegos was accustomed to street ministry among the Hispanic populations he served, wanting to be present to all and to bring Christ to all. He spent a lot of time with migrant workers and also the “lowrider” community in Sacramento, made up primarily of Hispanics with their customized, intricately designed, hydraulically enhanced cars. This group was often at odds with public officials on account of their blocking of city streets and, at times, instigation of violence. Gallegos occasionally was able to broker peace with them, and he was respected and revered for his optimism and inherent respect for everyone.
Gallegos worked hard to bring out each person’s best, seeing the potential in others and helping them find ways to place their God-given talents at the service of God and others. He said in an interview about ministering to the lowrider community: “I don’t mean to say this is the optimal pastime, but they have so much energy, and at least they are using it in some way. I would like to capture their ideas and use them for their own futures. But there has to be some type of direction. I definitely will continue to visit the lowriders,” he said, adding, “I think the presence of any priest or clergy is important there. I feel they need us.”
After Gallegos’ death — he died after being struck on the roadside by a car while attending to a stranded motorist on Oct. 6, 1991 — the lowrider community had the opportunity to posthumously demonstrate their love for their friend. Over 300 members of the community from throughout northern California came to bid farewell to the “Lowrider Bishop,” as they joined in the funeral procession for the beloved “Bishop of the Barrios.”
At Gallegos’ funeral, Los Angeles’ Cardinal Roger Mahony preached that Gallegos’ life “reflected an incredible commitment to Christ, to a deep spirituality and to a hope-filled proclamation of the Gospel,” adding, “It would be hard to imagine any pastor or bishop who more zealously sought to be with his people, to bring the joy and the promises of Jesus Christ to them and to spend himself and be spent for them.”
A cause of canonization was opened for Gallegos in 2005, and he was declared venerable in 2016.
|Prayer for the Canonization of Alphonse Gallegos|
God our Father, you made Bishop Alphonse Gallegos a pastor of the Church to feed your sheep with his words and to teach them by his example. We pray that his life of holiness and service to the People of God be acknowledged and that this loyal son of Our Lady of Guadalupe be counted among the saints of your Kingdom.
We ask this through Christ Our Lord. Amen.
Venerable Fulton J. Sheen
Venerable Fulton J. Sheen was without doubt one of the most influential and innovative forces of evangelization. Once dubbed “God’s microphone,” Sheen was known the world over for his proclamation of the Gospel through radio, print and television.
Sheen was born in El Paso, Illinois, on May 8, 1895. Determined to become a priest from his earliest years, he was ordained for the Diocese of Peoria on Sept. 20, 1919. As a priest, he dedicated himself to making Christ known and loved. This began with academic pursuits, as a professor at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C, where he taught for a quarter-century. It was during his tenure as a professor that he published more than half of his over 60 books, works that were illuminated by the deep, abiding faith that defined him. And his life matched up with his eloquent prose. “If you do not live what you believe, you will end up believing what you live,” he once said.
While Sheen was living in New York City, where he served as director of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith, he was appointed an auxiliary bishop of the Big Apple. He was ordained in Rome on June 11, 1951. As a successor of the Apostles, Sheen’s life was a living embodiment of their same zeal for souls. He worked tirelessly to find new ways to announce God’s timeless word in relevant ways. His integrity and authenticity made his message even more appealing and successful. His similarity to Christ came from, in part, the fact that Sheen made it a priority from the start of his 60-year priesthood to commit himself to a daily holy hour of adoring Christ in the Eucharist.
Sheen became a household name through his successful use of the media, especially known to tens of millions via his “Life Is Worth Living” TV program. Ironically, it was his fame that played a large part in the development of a hidden life of difficulties and sufferings for Sheen. These, though, he understood as a grace, too. He once said, “Christianity begins not with sunshine, but with defeat. During those days when my life was backed up against the Cross, I began to know and to love it more.”
Sheen’s life manifested great charity, and he once observed of this “greatest” of virtues: “it does not require much time to make a saint. It requires only much love.” At Sheen’s heart was the charity of Christ — the underlying foundation of his apostolic and evangelical undertakings. These were made possible, in no small part, from a generous spirit of self-sacrifice. Something of Sheen’s own life can be understood in the probing reflection he offered during his final Good Friday sermon: “Show me your hands. Have you a scar from giving? A scar of sacrificing yourself for another? Show me your feet. Have you gone about doing good? Were you wounded in service? Show me your heart. Have you left a place for divine love?”
Having applied himself tirelessly as bishop of Rochester — a brief tenure during which he was met with great resistance, and which he and many others regarded as a failure — Sheen retired from governance in 1969. He reflected on his life’s failures in his autobiography, wondering, “Was I inspiring anyone to imitate Christ in the daily carrying of His Cross?”
Sheen died Dec. 9, 1979 in New York City, in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament. He was declared venerable in 2012, and — after a miracle attributed to his intercession was approved by Pope Francis in 2019 — the Church awaits his beatification.
|Prayer for the Canonization of Fulton J. Sheen|
Heavenly Father, source of all holiness, You raise up within the Church in every age men and women who serve with heroic love and dedication. You have blessed Your Church through the life and ministry of Your faithful servant, Archbishop Fulton J Sheen. He has written and spoken well of Your Divine Son, Jesus Christ, and was a true instrument of the Holy Spirit in touching the hearts of countless people.
If it be according to Your Will, for the honor and glory of the Most Holy Trinity and for the salvation of souls, we ask You to move the Church to proclaim him a saint. We ask this prayer through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.
Venerable Frederic Baraga
Venerable Frederic Baraga’s apostolic adventures among Native Americans in the Michigan territory were as inspiring as they were legendary. The missionary endeavors undertaken in the United States were the impetus for many others to follow in his footsteps. These included none other than America’s first and only canonized bishop, St. John Neumann — who emigrated from his modern-day Czechia home for the United States after reading about Baraga’s work.
Born in Slovenia in 1797, orphaned at 14, Baraga first pursued a law degree at the University of Vienna. He came of age in the Austrian Empire at a time of many threats to national and ecclesial unity. Inspired by the charismatic Redemptorist priest St. Clement Hofbauer, who was his spiritual director and confessor for a few years, Baraga chose to leave behind the aspirations of a career in law to pursue the priesthood. Hofbauer’s influence on Baraga’s vocation cannot be underestimated. Not only did he prompt Baraga’s decision to enter seminary, but he also laid the foundation for his work for ecclesial reform, promotion of personal prayer among the faithful and his desire to dedicate himself to foreign missionary work.
After seven years as a priest, Baraga arrived in North America on the last day of 1830, responding to the request for missionaries in vast territory under the oversight of Cincinnati’s vast frontier diocese. Working first among German-speaking immigrants, Baraga soon took up study of the Ottawa and Algonquin languages, which prepared him for evangelizing among the Native peoples who spoke them. To this work he committed himself for nearly four decades, traversing the Great Lakes region in his ministry to the Ottawa and Chippewa nations. Favorable weather enabled his travel by canoe or by foot. In the winter months, he was able to cross his vast mission field by donning snowshoes, earning him the nickname “the Snowshoe Priest.” Baraga’s mission work also included ministry to immigrants, particularly those who came to Michigan’s upper peninsula to work in iron and copper mines.
A great deal of Baraga’s missionary activity is known through the multi-volume diary he kept. He was also a prolific author of prayer books and grammatical resources for Native American languages. He composed nearly 100 hymns in the Native American Chippewa language.
Baraga kept a regular schedule and way of life. He woke up very early in the morning and began his day with three hours of prayer. This remained the same when his responsibilities increased, too.
In 1853, Baraga was named a bishop and ordained in Cincinnati on Nov. 1 of that year. He gave himself completely to the task of establishing his new diocese, then called Sault Sainte-Marie, later transferred to the Diocese of Marquette, Michigan. The meager resources afforded to him, particularly in terms of finances and collaborators in ministry, troubled him greatly. A life of arduous labors, harsh living conditions and tireless dedication brought a stroke to Baraga at age 68 while attending the second Council of Baltimore, a historic gathering of American bishops in the first American see city. Fearing he would not be permitted to return to his beloved diocese on account of the austerity of life it demanded, he instructed the priest who accompanied him to carry him to the train that would bring him home.
Although his health improved to some degree, Baraga died on Jan. 19, 1868, while awaiting a promised coadjutor bishop. Many among the mourners declared that a saint had been among them. A cause of canonization was opened for Baraga in 1952, and he was declared venerable in 2012.
|Prayer for the Canonization of Frederic Baraga|
O God, thank you for the life and holiness of Your servant, Frederic Baraga. I pray You will honor him by the title of Saint. He dedicated himself completely to missionary activity to make You known, loved and served by the people who You love. As a man of peace and love, Baraga brought peace and love wherever he traveled.
Lord, grant Venerable Bishop Baraga the grace of beatification. We ask this in Christ’s Name. Amen.
Servant of God Simon Bruté
The first Hoosier bishop, Servant of God Simon Bruté is regarded by many as one of the pivotal players of American Catholicism. He was a man of exemplary intellect and great holiness. Some might even say that without Bishop Bruté we might have never known two of our own American saints: St. Theodora Guerin and St. Elizabeth Ann Seton. Although there’s so much more, this alone makes Bruté’s life worth knowing.
As a young Sulpician priest from France, Simon Bruté arrived in the United States in 1810. There, he established himself as an intellectual force at America’s first seminary — St. Mary’s in Baltimore. Two years later, he arrived at Mount St. Mary’s in Emmitsburg, Maryland. Bruté’s capable mind earned his description by President John Quincy Adams as “the most learned man of his day in America.”
Bruté also used his scholarly gifts to contribute to the early Catholic newspapers being formed throughout the East coast. Further evidence of his academic achievements and zeal for the Faith is what earned his appointment as a theological adviser to those early Councils of Baltimore. In those early councils held by the American hierarchy, Bruté advocated for cohesion in Catholic teaching and practice. His great love for the Church meant he would work wholeheartedly toward its success in his new American home.
Bruté’s pastoral heart was also seen beyond his academic pursuits. His work as a priest outside the classroom was equally important to his scholarship. During his tenure in Emmitsburg, he became known as a gifted pastor and spiritual director — even serving in that capacity for the future saint and foundress Elizabeth Ann Seton. Following her death, he ensured the preservation of her papers and writings, evidence that he was keenly aware of the future saint’s spiritual depth. Bruté later memorialized his directee: “O, such a mother! Such faith and love! Such a true spirit of prayer, of true humility, of true self-denial in all, of true charity to all!” Much of this apt description of this faithful servant could also be applied to Bruté himself.
In recognition of his attractive faith, his great intellect, his pastoral tender care and zeal for souls, Bruté was named the first bishop in Indiana in 1834 — then as head of the Diocese of Vincennes, which contained the entire Hoosier state and part of Illinois, including Chicago. At the time he remarked, “unworthy as I am of so great an honor, and of myself unequal of the charge, my only trust is in God; and, therefore, earnestly calling for your prayers, that I may obtain His Divine assistance, I come to be your chief pastor.”
As bishop, Bruté was responsible for bringing to Indiana the French Sisters of Providence, led by the courageous St. Theodora Guerin. Bruté desired their help in establishing Catholic education in his new diocese. Although the request took some time to come to fruition, Guerin and her sisters arrived in their new Hoosier mission land the year after Bruté’s 1839 death. Guerin’s holiness was forged on the Indiana frontier, where she was brought thanks to Bruté’s intervention.
Many regarded Bruté as a saint during his lifetime, and his legacy has endured. In 1891, Cardinal James Gibbons of Baltimore — another great American churchman — said of Bruté on a visit to Vincennes: “Worthy citizens of Vincennes, you need not go on pilgrimages to visit the tombs of saints. There is one reposing here in your midst — namely, the saintly founder of this diocese, Right Reverend Simon Bruté.”
In 2005, then-Archbishop of Indianapolis Daniel Buechlein, OSB — one of Bruté’s successors, as Vincennes was suppressed as a see and transferred to Indianapolis — formally began the process that seeks Bruté’s canonization. The process continues today, and many hope it will soon lead to his declaration as venerable.
|Prayer for the Canonization of the Servant of God Simon Bruté|
Father in heaven, you give us every blessing and shower us with your grace through our savior, Jesus Christ, and the working of the Holy Spirit.
If it be according to your will, glorify your servant Simon Bruté by granting the favor I now request through his prayerful intercession: (Mention your request.) I make this prayer confidently through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.
Servant of God Louis deGoesbriand
Born into a wealthy French family in 1815, deGoesbriand began studies for the priesthood in Paris. He was recruited for priestly service in the United States and arrived shortly after his 1840 ordination. For several years, he ministered in Cincinnati before being transferred to Cleveland, where he served as vicar general until his appointment as a bishop in 1853. The new bishop was destined for a new diocese — in Burlington, Vermont — where he found only five priests, eight parish churches and about 20,000 Catholics in the statewide see. To say he had his work cut out for him is an understatement.
DeGoesbriand had organized a diocesan synod shortly after marking his first year as a bishop in Vermont, and he also attended the First Vatican Council. He prioritized recruiting more priests for his fledgling fold, and he traveled to Ireland and France in search of them. DeGoesbriand used his inherited family fortune to finance the institutional growth and charitable activity of his diocese. He personally financed the purchase of parish properties, built churches, established an orphanage and aided the poor.
DeGoesbriand’s tenure was marked by simplicity, choosing to live an austere existence despite his inheritance and wealthy upbringing. Many regarded him as holy and a model of Christian virtue. Old age and ill health brought about the appointment of a coadjutor bishop in 1893. Although his inheritance was about a quarter million dollars, he had only a couple of dollars to his name by the time he died in 1899. He left the diocese with around 50 priests and nearly 30 new parishes.
A cause of canonization was opened in 2019, and research into his life and holiness is underway.
|Prayer for the Canonization of the Servant of God Louis deGoesbriand|
O God, You have willed that your Church be the sacrament of salvation for all nations, so that Christ’s saving work may continue to the end of the ages. In time, you established our Church in Vermont through the tireless efforts of her first Bishop, Louis DeGoesbriand.
We pray that, if it be your will, raise him to sainthood, setting before us his life of virtue and missionary courage. Inspired by his example, may we feel the urgent call to work for the salvation of all.
We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Servant of God Terence Cardinal Cooke
New York’s seventh archbishop was born in the see city on March 1, 1921, the third child of Irish immigrants. His mother died before he was 10, and his aunt took on a significant role in his upbringing.
At 13, Cooke began preparation for the priesthood by attending the Archdiocese of New York’s minor seminary. He was ordained a priest at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York in 1945. Cooke began his ministry with a short stint as chaplain at a home for children north of the city, before attending The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., where he obtained a Master’s degree in social work.
Back in New York by 1949, Cooke took up a variety of positions in leadership for ministry to young people. In 1957, he was appointed as personal secretary to New York’s archbishop Cardinal Francis Spellman, a position he held until his appointment as an auxiliary bishop of New York in 1965. He was ordained by Spellman — who he would succeed in about three years’ time — at St. Patrick’s Cathedral later that same year.
Cooke chose as his episcopal motto “Fiat Voluntas Tua,” meaning “Thy Will Be Done,” from the Our Father prayer. Fittingly he accepted God’s will heroically and surrendered all to him. This was true particularly in the battle he quietly took against leukemia, which was first diagnosed in 1965. The disease became terminal in 1975, and Cooke spent the last five years of his life in regular chemotherapy treatments. He did not make his illness public until just a few months before his death on Oct. 6, 1983. “The gift of life, God’s special gift, is no less beautiful when it is accompanied by illness or weakness, hunger or poverty, mental or physical handicaps, loneliness or old age,” he wrote.
Cooke served as archbishop of New York at a turbulent time in American history. The day of his installation as archbishop in 1968 was the same day Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in Memphis. A few months later, Cooke celebrated the funeral for Robert F. Kennedy after the latter’s assasination. Cooke offered the benediction at the inauguration of President Richard M. Nixon in 1969, the same year he was named to the College of Cardinals. As the apostolic vicar for the United States military, he traveled the globe amid the Vietnam War. He participated in the two conclaves of 1978, the year of three popes. Cooke was a defender of the sanctity of life in the wake of the legalization of abortion by Roe v. Wade. Cooke defended the rights and dignity of the poor and marginalized, spoke out in favor of nuclear disarmament, and worked to foster chastity among same-sex attracted Catholics with his support of the foundation of the Courage International apostolate. Cooke was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Ronald Reagan in 1984.
Cooke’s successor in New York, Cardinal John O’Connor, gave his support to the calls for Cooke’s canonization in the wake of his death. A guild was established in 1984, and in 1992 he was given the title “Servant of God.” His cause of canonization is ongoing.
|Prayer for the Canonization of the Servant of God Terence Cardinal Cooke|
Almighty and eternal Father, we thank you for the exemplary life and gentle kindness of your son and bishop, Terence Cooke.
If it be your gracious will, grant that the virtues of your servant may be recognized and provide a lasting example for your people.
We pray through Our Lord Jesus Christ your son who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, One God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Michael R. Heinlein is editor of OSV’s Simply Catholic. He writes from Indiana.