Artículo del periodico “Catholic Standard”: “La Sagrada Familia ha inspirado la vida y el ministerio sacerdotal del Obispo Francisco González”, 8 de mayo de 2014
The Holy Family has inspired Bishop Francisco González’s life and priesthood
MARK ZIMMERMANN, Editor, Thursday, May 8, 2014
Bishop González has served as an auxiliary bishop for the Archdiocese of Washington since 2002. This month marks his 50th anniversary as a priest.
In a special way, Bishop Francisco González’s life and his ministry have been connected to the Holy Family. On May 1, he marked the 50th anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood as a member of the Sons of the Holy Family, a religious community founded by St. Joseph Manyanet to inspire families to make their homes resemble the home of the Holy Family in Nazareth – places of love, faith and service where Jesus is welcomed.
And on Saturday May 24, the Archdiocese of Washington is inviting his family of faith to join him for a Mass of Thanksgiving marking the 50th anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood, at a 5:15 p.m. Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.
When now-St. John Paul II appointed Bishop González to be an auxiliary bishop of Washington in 2002, the pope in his appointment letter encouraged the new bishop to continue serving families as a Son of the Holy Family. In Washington, the bishop has done that, serving as vicar general and moderator for Hispanic ministries, and earlier as episcopal vicar for the 270,000 Hispanic Catholics here who constitute more than 40 percent of the archdiocese’s population. Each week, 64 Spanish-language Masses are celebrated in 38 Catholic churches throughout the archdiocese.
“The [members of the] Hispanic community here have opened their homes, their friendship and their love to me, and I have been blessed by that,” said the bishop, who said he has been inspired by their example of deep faith, joy and devotion to their families, and their hard work and sacrifice in helping their children go on to college, despite the challenges many of them face as immigrants in a new land. “They are religious and caring. They work hard, and support each other, and they become an example for the people around them.”
The bishop also has found a resemblance to the Holy Family in his parents. His father was one of two policemen in their hometown in Spain, and his mother, although she never learned to read and write herself, taught the Gospel to her son by her example – attending Mass and praying the rosary daily, and helping their neighbors who were in need, always with a joyful spirit. “As the years go by, I always thought in my house was that spirit (of Nazareth), because the presence of God was always recognized and revered,” he said.
His older brother had joined the Jesuits, and his older sister had entered the convent to become a member of the Daughters of Charity of St. Anne. When young Francisco would walk through town, holding his mother’s and his father’s hands, he remembers people commenting, “Look, it’s the Holy Family!”
His hometown’s church had an altar dedicated to the Holy Family, “and I always thought it was the most beautiful of all the altars at the parish,” he said. Inspired by his parents’ devout faith and by the example of his parish priest, Francisco González entered the seminary and was ordained to the priesthood as a Son of the Holy Family on May 1, 1964, which coincidentally was the date that his parents were married more than four decades earlier.
On May 1, 2014, on the very day of the 50th anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood, the bishop celebrated a regular noontime Mass at the Archdiocesan Pastoral Center in Hyattsville, and that evening, he administered the Sacrament of Confirmation to youth at, coincidentally again, Holy Family Church in Mitchellville. Confirming youth has been one of his greatest joys as a bishop, because he said “I believe in the youth, not only as the future of society, but also as the present.”
Later, reflecting on his 50 years as a priest, the bishop said he has learned “to trust people, and not to put limits to solidarity. Allow the Lord to work through you, making him the center of your life, and making love the motivation for what you do.” Then the bishop, who is known for his sense of humor, added, “And not to take myself too seriously.”
Bishop González’s service as a bishop and priest has also included writing an award-winning column on family and spiritual life for El Pregonero, the archdiocese’s Spanish-language community newspaper. Over the years, he also served as director of the archdiocese’s Office of Family Ministry, as pastor of Our Lady Queen of the Americas Parish in Washington, and as director of the Hispanic Cursillo and charismatic movements here. Earlier, he served as a parish priest in New Mexico, Colorado and Spain, as a chaplain at Walter Reed Hospital in Washington, and as a teacher at the Academy of the Holy Cross in Kensington and at St. John’s at Prospect Hall in Frederick.
Bishop González’s anniversary Mass will come two days after his 75th birthday, and he has already submitted his resignation letter to Pope Francis, and if the pope chooses to let him retire, the bishop hopes to follow the example of Pope Benedict XVI and dedicate his life to prayer and study.
The bishop said he has been inspired by the Christ-like way that Pope Francis cares for his flock, and by the humble lifestyle of the first pope from Latin America, and of course he likes the name the new pope chose. He also appreciated Pope Francis’s praising the new St. John Paul II as “the pope of the family” who will inspire the Church’s upcoming synods of bishops on the family this fall and next year.
Washington’s auxiliary bishop who was encouraged by the future saint to serve families, draws inspiration from St. John Paul II’s statement from Familiaris Consortio, the pope’s 1981 apostolic exhortation on the Christian family in the modern world: “The future of the world and the Church passes through the family.”
For a son from a holy family who became a Son of the Holy Family and who has dedicated his priesthood to inspiring families to be holy, those words ring true.