Thursday, June 14, 2012

Eucharistic Witness: Bl. Manuel Gonzales Garcia

Father Garcia's ordination picture
I learned recently about Bishop (now "Blessed") Garcia, an Apostle of Eucharistic devotion, born in Spain in 1877 and ordained priest in 1901.

 Just five months after his ordination, young Fr. Garcia was sent to preach a parish mission in the town of Palomares del Rio. What he saw there determined the whole course of his priestly ministry and spirituality. The wooden tabernacle of the parish church was pocked with termite holes and draped in cobwebs, filthy dirty. The scene remained, he later said, "glued" to his soul. He was determined that, as much as lay in his power, he would never see another tabernacle abandoned again.

After careful preparation, Garcia established a kind of sodality for women. He called it "The Work of the Three Marys," after the women who remained at the foot of Jesus' cross when all the others (but John) had fled. But it wasn't enough that women should take up his call, so he also established the "Disciples of St. John" and then the "Children of the Tabernacle." His aim broadened, and within six years there were "Diocesan Eucharistic Missionaries" sharing the dream.

In 1920, Garcia was made bishop of Malaga. This gave him just the position he needed to establish his works on a more lasting foundation by founding a congregation of sisters (the "Eucharistic Missionaries of Nazareth"), who would carry the work forward after his death.

When the Spanish Civil War broke out, the bishop's residence was set aflame, and Garcia fled to Gibralter, and then to Madrid. During this time, he launched a secular institute (the "Nazarene Auxiliary Missionaries") and the "Children's Eucharistic Reparation" movement.

What is the connection between the "missionary" thrust so evident in the names of his later foundations and the house of Nazareth? Garcia saw the house of Nazareth as the place of Jesus' apprenticeship for the hidden life of the Eucharist. In their convents (which the sisters called their "Nazareths"), the sisters would "learn to speak like Jesus in the Gospel and be silent like Jesus in the tabernacle."

Named bishop of Palencia, Garcia died only four years later. He is buried in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel of his Cathedral, so that his very bones "after my death, as my tongue and my pen during life, might continue to say to everyone who passes by, 'Jesus is here! He is here!' "

For the website of the Eucharistic Reparation Union (the "family" of Garcia's followers),  you might need the help of a translation service.

1 comment:

MARCUS AQUINUS said...

I have an ex ossibus relic of Blessed Bishop Manuel Gonzales Garcia, whom I called Bishop Manuel.