Alphonse Gallegos

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Alphonse Gallegos
Auxiliary Bishop of Sacramento
Bishop Alphonse Gallegos.jpg
ChurchRoman Catholic Church
Appointed24 August 1981
Term ended6 October 1991
Other postsTitular Bishop of Sasabe (1981-1991)
Ordination24 May 1958
Consecration4 November 1981
by Francis Anthony Quinn
Personal details
Birth nameAlphonse Gallegos
Born(1931-02-20)20 February 1931
Alburquerque, New Mexico, United States
Died6 October 1991(1991-10-06) (aged 60)
Sacramento, California, United States
BuriedNational Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Sacramento
DenominationRoman Catholic
  • "Love One Another"
Venerated inRoman Catholic Church
Title as SaintVenerable
AttributesBishop's attire
Styles of
Alphonse Gallegos
Mitre plain 2.png
Reference styleThe Most Reverend
Spoken styleYour Excellency
Religious styleMonsignor
Posthumous styleServant of God

Alphonse Gallegos (February 20, 1931 – October 6, 1991), was an American Roman Catholic bishop who served as an auxiliary bishop of Sacramento. He was nicknamed the "Bishop of the Barrios". On 8 July 2016, Pope Francis named him as Venerable in recognition of the bishop's heroic virtue .

Early life[edit]

Gallegos was born in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where his father was a carpenter, and his mother a homemaker caring for their 11 children. He had a twin brother, Eloy,[1] grew up in Watts, attended Manual Arts High School and received confirmation from then auxiliary bishop Timothy Manning.[2] The family attended San Miguel parish, which was run by the Order of Augustinian Recollects.

Gallegos attended Rockhurst University in Kansas City, graduated from St. Thomas Aquinas College in Sparkill, New York, St. John's University in New York and Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles.[1] He entered the Order of Augustinian Recollects as a novice in 1950.

While a seminarian at the Tagaste Monastery in Suffern, New York, his superiors learned that Gallegos was born with a severe myopic condition.[2] Although he had eye surgery prior to entering the seminary, his vision remained poor. Gallegos was ordained a Roman Catholic priest for the Augustinian Recollects on May 24, 1958.

He spent eight years at Tagaste serving as chaplain at neighboring hospitals and religious communities and served in various capacities in his Order’s houses of formation. I 1972 he became pastor of San Miguel in Watts, and in 1978 of Cristo Rey in Glendale in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. He was an advisor to Los Angeles Cardinal Timothy Manning on Hispanic affairs and helped set up a training program for the Hispanic permanent diaconate of the archdiocese.[3]

He was transferred to the Diocese of Sacramento where Gallegos served from 1979 to 1981 as the first director of the Division of Hispanic Affairs of the California Catholic Conference.[2][4]

Auxiliary bishop[edit]

On August 24, 1981, Pope John Paul II appointed Gallegos auxiliary bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Sacramento, in Sacramento, California[5] as the titular bishop of Sasabe.[3] He was consecrated bishop on November 4, 1981 by Bishop Francis Quinn. In 1983, Bishop Quinn appointed Gallegos pastor of the National Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

In his ministry both as priest and later as bishop, Gallegos dressed in a 99-cent sombrero and T-shirt to minister at night to gang members, lowriders and at-risk youth in poor areas of Los Angeles and Sacramento.[6]


On October 6, 1991, Gallegos died when he was struck by a car[1] while returning to Sacramento from Gridley, California. The bishop and his driver had stopped to help a stranded motorist.[7] Other accounts say that their car suddenly lost power and stopped in the left lane. As the men began to push the car off the road and onto the median, another car slammed into their vehicle, throwing the bishop some 50 feet to the right shoulder.[8] The bishop died instantly. Gallegos was considered an unofficial chaplain to lowriders and migrant workers. In honor of the “Bishop of the Barrio,” about 300 lowrider cars formed part of his funeral procession from the parish of St. Rose where he lived to the city’s Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament.[9]


In 2005, after eleven months of scrutiny, the cause for Gallegos beatification was opened by Bishop William Weigand.[4] He was declared a Servant of God on June 5, 2006.

On March 24, 2010, Gallegos's body was exhumed and transferred to the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament as part of his cause towards sainthood.[7] On March 25, 2010, his remains were transferred to the parish he resided in as an auxiliary bishop.[10] This parish is the Sanctuary of the National Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe also known as Santuario Nacional de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe in Sacramento.

On July 8, 2016 Pope Francis authorized the Congregation for the Causes of Saints to promulgate a decree recognizing the heroic virtues of Servant of God Alphonse Gallegos, and naming him Venerable.[5][11]


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.[12]

Because he was a member of the Knights of Columbus and supporter of the unborn, Bishop Gallegos Assembly 2336 [13] and Bishop Gallegos Maternity Home [14] are named for him.

The city of Sacramento named a section of Eleventh St. between K and L Streets the Gallegos Square in his memory.[15] In 1997, a statue of Bishop Gallegos was unveiled in Gallegos Square next to the cathedral.[3]

Ordination history of
Alphonse Gallegos
Priestly ordination
Date24 May 1958
Episcopal consecration
Principal consecratorFrancis Anthony Quinn
Co-consecratorsJohn Raphael Quinn
Robert Fortune Sanchez
Date4 November 1981


  1. ^ a b c "Alphonse Gallegos; Sacramento Bishop". LA Times. 9 October 1991. Retrieved 30 July 2016 – via LA Times.
  2. ^ a b c "Beatification process opens for former L.A. pastor Retrieved: 2010-03-22". Archived from the original on 2008-07-06. Retrieved 2010-03-22.
  3. ^ a b c Boll, John E. "Bishop Alphonse Napoleon Gallegos, OAR", Sacramento Diocesan Archives
  4. ^ a b Online, Catholic. "Formal Closing of the Diocesan Process for the Cause of Canonization of Bishop Alphonse Gallegos, OA - Prwire - News - Catholic Online". Retrieved 30 July 2016.
  5. ^ a b Borsellino, Tonia. "Why this bishop from the US is now one step closer to being a saint", Catholic News Agency, July 21, 2016
  6. ^ Nelson, Mike. "Bishop Gallegos Venerable and beloved by many", Angelus News, Archdiocese of Los Angeles, July 6, 2017
  7. ^ a b "Bishop's Body Exhumed, Moved Downtown Gallegos". kcra news. Archived from the original on 2012-02-22. Retrieved 2010-03-25.
  8. ^ Korson, Gerald. "'Barrio' Bishop Alphonse Gallegos", OSV Newsweekly, November , 2006
  9. ^ O’Neel, Brian. "California's Bishop Alphonse Gallegos Declared Venerable", National Catholic Register, July 8, 2016
  10. ^ "Bishop's Body Moved To Our Lady Of Guadalupe Church Leader Considered For Sainthood Retrieved: 2010-03-25". Archived from the original on 2012-02-22. Retrieved 2010-03-25.
  11. ^ Pope Francis, "Decree on the virtues of the Venerable Bishop Alphonse Gallegos, OAR", July 8, 2016, the Congregation for the Causes of Saints
  12. ^ The Sacramento Bee Magazine, January 18, 1987
  13. ^ "BISHOP GALLEGOS ASSEMBLY 2336 Retrieved: 2010-03-26". Archived from the original on 2009-08-13. Retrieved 2010-03-26.
  14. ^ "The Cause for Beatification of the Servant of God Bishop Alphonse Gallegos, OAR Retrieved: 2010-03-25". Archived from the original on 2010-04-25. Retrieved 2010-03-26.
  15. ^ "I feel as though I have met him also Retrieved: 2010-03-26". Archived from the original on 2010-11-29. Retrieved 2010-03-26.

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