From gangs to consecrated life

Brother Cesar John Paul Galan makes perpetual profession of vows
Former gang member Brother Cesar John Paul Galan, FSP, made his perpetual profession of vows at St. Francis Medical Center in Lynwood on Dec. 11. He is studying to become a priest at St. John’s Seminary. (photo/Paul Duda/The Tidings)

Former gang member Brother Cesar John Paul Galan, FSP, made his perpetual profession of vows at St. Francis Medical Center in Lynwood on December 11. He is studying to become a priest at St. John’s Seminary. (photo/Paul Duda/The Tidings)

The following comes from a December 23 Angelus article by Michael Wahle:

On April of 2001, St. Francis Medical Center in Lynwood served as the site of the greatest loss Brother Cesar John Paul Galan, FSP, would ever endure: the death of his brother Hector due to gun violence.

Nearly 15 years later, the same medical center became the site of his greatest triumph. In a Mass celebrated by Cardinal Roger M. Mahoney on Dec. 11, Brother Cesar made his perpetual profession of vows, a declaration that he intends to “serve the sick, poor and to continue in [God’s] way of life through professing the vows of poverty, chastity, obedience and self-sufficiency.”

The moving ceremony was witnessed by about 100 people, including fellow Friars of the Sick Poor of Los Angeles (the group to which Brother Galan vowed to devote his life), clergy, and several of his family, friends and fellow seminarians at St. John’s.

“This is the end of a long journey for me that I’ve been praying about and reflecting about,” said a beaming Brother Cesar after the ceremony. Indeed, Brother Cesar’s journey to this point wasn’t just long, but also littered with trying setbacks. For the better part of his adolescence and young adult life, Brother Cesar, now 42, was affiliated with a violent neighborhood gang.

“The gang life for me was a normal thing,” he recalled. “I was growing up in that environment, so it was all I saw and all I knew. We [Brother Cesar and his fellow gang members] were in school together. They were my friends. I didn’t see them as gang members or anything like that. But in life, I think we all have that ‘aha’ moment. A light turns on and you get to see what God intends for us to be.”

For Brother Cesar, that “aha moment” was unfortunately as tragic as it was loud and clear. On April 3, 2001, an altercation with a gang member escalated into a shootout, claiming the life of his brother Hector, and leaving Brother Cesar a paraplegic.

But with the same vivacity he intends to perform God’s ministry, Brother Cesar has devoted himself to finding the blessing amidst his immense loss, the needle in a haystack of grief.

Witnessing Brother Cesar make his perpetual profession of vows in the face of the great adversity he has had to overcome in his life caused many of his supporters in attendance to weep tears of joy. And no smile in the room was bigger than that of Brother Richard Hirbe, FSP, the “Mister General” of the ceremony to whom Brother Cesar made his profession.

As chaplain of St. Francis Medical Center, Brother Richard was the one who delivered the devastating news to Brother Cesar in the ICU on that fateful April night in 2001: that Brother Cesar had lost his ability to walk and, even worse, that he had lost his brother Hector.

“[After delivering the news], Brother Richard gave me the best gift anyone has ever given me,” he recalled. “He asked, ‘What can I do for you, Cesar?’

“I said I wanted to see my brother one last time. So I went into the ICU room and was able to hold my brother’s hand one last time and say goodbye to him.

That was the best gift that anyone has ever given to me, and, ever since then, we’ve communicated one way or another. It’s been an awesome journey.”

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  1. John Feeney says:

    There is no such thing as “gun violence” Guns are inanimate objects and therefore totally incapable of doing anything. That’s the reason why we don’t hear about baseball bat violence or meat cleaver violence. The Catholic Church declared blaming inanimate objects for evil to be heresy over 1000 years ago. Why is this erroneous term, “gun violence”, in a Catholic article?

    • John Feeney, yes I too frowned upon reading that pc term. Enduring the murder of a loved one by any means devised by the murderer is devastating.

  2. Praise God in ALL things! Continue to pray for holy and good religious! Even though an evil act upon another did not dissuade this young man to react with evil. Keep praying your Rosary, for conversion of sinners, unity in the family, and peace in the world.

  3. I think most readers/speakers of standard American English realize the guns themselves do nothing. “Gun violence” is an idiom referring to humans misusing guns for violent, often illegal acts.

    • John Feeney says:

      Mike M why do you prefer the erroneous term ” gun violence” rather than human violence. Do you call an automobile accident car violence? Of course not. You come up with your so called “idiom” so that you can make the inanimate object, the gun, the cause of the crime rather than the criminal. You are also trying to condone heresy. Nice try but it doesn’t fly! I’ll bet you vote for people with a (D) after their name. You know, the ones who advocate abortion.

      • Who ya trying to kid? says:

        I think if there were thousands of people killed by people intentionally mauling over people with cars, the way that woman apparently did in Las Vegas, we would indeed refer to “car violence”. It may be a crude shorthand term, but everyone understands that gun violence means that people CHOSE to use guns to perpetrate horrible acts, and that without those GUNS, the causalities would likely have been far less. You can be cute by trying to play a word game around gun violence, if you want, but we all know what it means.

        • Who are YOU trying to kid! Murder is against both civil and moral law, period. Before the invention of gun powder and even thereafter, we have had and still have murder on both small and massive scales with or without guns. Think about Communist regimes who surely used guns to wipe out many. However, their largest and most deadly weapon was mass starvation. China today kills more people by means of abortion. US of A ditto. Italy ditto. India ditto. Spain ditto. England ditto, Canada ditto…… Oh that’s right – “we have an over population problem!” – just another politically correct mantra of hypocrisy from ‘caring’ moral relativists

        • John Feeney says:

          Who you trying to kid, “gun violence” is a made up term concocted by gun control advocates to put the blame for killings on an inanimate object, guns. Again, guns are inanimate objects and are therefore incapable of doing anything. Again, the Catholic Church declared blaming inanimate objects for evil to be heresy over 1000 years ago. The phony term “gun violence” is used by gun control advocates like billionaire Michael Bloomberg. Michael Bloomberg has seventeen armed bodyguards but wants to make the rest of us defenseless. Furthermore, why are you advocating heresy on a Catholic website?

  4. Hate to rain on anyone’s parade (and what a lovely parade it might be) but the article smacks of victimology: victim of gun violence, affiliated with violent gangs, forgiving the person who hurt me. Coulda happened to anybody. Bonny & Clyde were victims of gun violence too–I guess.

    The British prison psychologist Theodore Dalrymple recalls meeting many inmates who “fell in” with the wrong crowd, but, the doctor joked, he never met a member of the wrong crowd itself.

    Would’ve been nice to hear about The Brothers Gangbanger legion of victims, among them John Q. Taxpayer who foots the bill(ions) for such “youthful shananigans.”

    But just maybe we, and he, have “fallen in” with the wrong journalist.

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