October 15, 2010
Saint Frances Cabrini Church
The young man in the middle, Father Alex Gamino, is smiling because he has just been ordained a Roman Catholic priest. He stands there, strong and proud between his mother and father plus Bishop Gerald Barnes (left) and co-adjutor bishop Rutilio del Riego. Everyone in attendance (well over 1,000) is smiling too. Father Alex is a special person, not only to God but to thousands of people in Southern California, mostly in the areas in and around the great Mojave desert. His is a story that few young men have, even those who enjoy the crowning of their call to the Vineyard of God. I like to write about it because Father Alex is close to our family and because I have written so many things about death and dying over the last few months that it does me some good to write about a renewed life, a flowered call to mission.
Some four or five months ago Father Alex missed his scheduled ordination. He was not far away from having his hands anointed by God Himself. He fell gravely ill just a few weeks before "O" Day and spent a goodly amount of time in ICU in the great state of Texas where he was attending the seminary. It was not the news that family and friends were expecting. But it did have the effect of galvanizing those who love this young man into action. I know that God had His hands full with all the prayers that were flung at Him from all over Southern California, some parts of Mexico and most of us do not know where else. Well, far be it from me to accuse God of caving in, but the fact of the matter is, that we now have Father Alex Gamino, alive and well, whether or not God had to change His mind to match ours. Let's just say, as good Catholics always do, "Our prayers were heard."
Tomorrow, Belle and I will kneel before Father Alex and he will bless us. It will be special for us because we know that this will be a blessing soaking wet with holy tears of gratitude for life, for a vision of holy work pruning the Lord's vine, feeding His sheep, protecting His lambs and spreading His love all around the Southern California desert towns where Father Alex will walk firmly, gently, bravely and with a purposeful gait. He knows that he has been blessed with renewed vigor for a reason that only God knows. Father Alex will not let you down, Lord. You'll be glad You kept him around. He will be with You working so hard for so long that he will not have time to cry at my funeral.