In Thanksgiving for Bishop Francisco González, a true Son of the Holy Family
This month, our family of faith rejoices in the 50th anniversary of the priestly ordination of Bishop Francisco González, S.F. Having taken his final vows in the Congregation of the Sons of the Holy Family in 1960, it was on May 1, 1964, that Francisco González was ordained a priest. This vocation and devotion to the Holy Family has deep roots.
The Holy Family represents the first church of the home, a domestic church where Jesus, Mary and Joseph offer today’s families and the universal Church itself a model for living holy and happy lives marked by prayer and loving service to others. So it left quite an impression on him when as a young boy walking hand-in-hand with his parents in their native Spain, he remembers people commenting, “Look, it’s the Holy Family!”
Inspired by the example of his parents’ devout faith and by his parish priest, young Francisco entered the seminary. His brother and sister also entered religious life. In a beautiful coincidence, his ordination day coincided with the anniversary of his parents’ wedding day more than four decades earlier, a lasting reminder of how their lives of faith and love shaped his desire to help raise up holy families among the people he served.
Throughout his priesthood, Bishop González has lived and shared this Gospel of the family, to help families become holy families. Since being ordained an auxiliary bishop for Washington in 2002, he has served as a vicar general and moderator for Hispanic ministries for the archdiocese. He also served as pastor of Our Lady, Queen of the Americas Parish and as director of the Office of Family Ministry. Earlier, he served as a national chaplain for the Cursillo movement, as a parish priest in New Mexico and Colorado, and as a high school teacher and hospital chaplain.
In his work as episcopal vicar for Hispanic Catholics in our local Church, Bishop González has served a vibrant and diverse community of over 250,000 Catholics who come from dozens of different countries and many different backgrounds, and worship in 38 different parishes. He said that one of the greatest gifts that Hispanic Catholics offer to our Church is “the deep faith they have. They relate to God in a direct way.” With Bishop González, we can all admire the joy and dedication to their families shown by Spanish-speaking Catholics. “The (members of the) Hispanic community have opened their homes, their friendship and their love to me, and I have been blessed by that,” he noted.
Bishop González himself exemplifies that same spirit of faith, joy and love for families. Another Francisco – Pope Francis – could have been describing Bishop Gonzalez when he said these words on Holy Thursday, “Priestly joy is a priceless treasure, not only for the priest himself, but for the entire faithful people of God.”
Our Holy Father has encouraged priests and bishops to be shepherds who know their flock and who go out to the world and share Christ’s love. Bishop González has carried out that work, in his ministry as a bishop serving our area’s growing Hispanic Catholic population, and in confirming thousands of our youth over the years.
Our family of faith is invited to celebrate Bishop González’s jubilee at a Mass of Thanksgiving at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception on May 24, 2014, at 5:15 p.m. Two days before that, the bishop will celebrate his 75th birthday.
We thank God for the gift of this son of a holy family who became a true Son of the Holy Family, and who has dedicated his life as a priest to raising up holy families who welcome Jesus into their homes and into their hearts.