Msgr Gonzales

First Sunday of Advent


As many already know, Msgr. Gabriel Gonzales, the pastor of St. Anastasia’s parish, died unexpectedly on November 9. He was quite young, 57, and his sudden passing caught many of his parishioners and brother priests by surprise. I was in the seminary with Gabe for years; he followed me at St. Mark’s parish in Venice and we had many mutual friends. I was with him just a few weeks ago and he looked in the best health that I had seen in years. And then this. I imagine that most of us have had such experiences, losing someone unexpectedly. It is a shock that both bewilders and frightens, as our mortality stands before our eyes. It scared me. I thought, “Gabe was my age; I don’t want to die yet.” Thoughts turn to “What have I accomplished in life? What do I have to show for it? Am I living the life I most love, the life that God has given to me and calls me to live?”

The words of the poet Mary Oliver come to mind.

I want to step through the door (of death) full of curiosity, wondering: what’s it going to be like, that cottage of darkness? And therefore I look upon everything as a brotherhood and a sisterhood, and I look upon time as no more than an idea, and I consider eternity as another possibility.

When it’s over, I want to say: all my life, I was a bride married to amazement. I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms. When it’s over, I don’t want to wonder if I have made of my life something particular and real. I don’t want to find myself sighing and frightened, or full of argument. I don’t want to end up simply having visited this world.

Life is so precious. We are here for only a few breaths.

Let us spend this day alive with grace, living the life we most wish to live, the life God gave us. Jesus said in John’s Gospel, “I have come that you may have life and life in abundance.” Lets live. But beyond thoughts for our own lives, Visitation knows what it is like for a parish to lose its pastor. Our prayers go out to the family of Msgr. Gonzalez and the parish community of St. Anastasia.

Fr. Jim