This article first appeared in the June 2024 issue of the Western Province’s quarterly newsletter, The Vincentian.

Fr. Stephen Gallegos embraces instructional role in his ministry

In front of his congregation at Sacred Heart Parish’s 11 a.m. Mass in Patterson, CA, Fr. Stephen Gallegos, C.M., stops after the sign of the peace for a “teaching moment.” He holds the broken host aloft, a symbol of how Christ was broken for us, explaining to the congregation as he does it.

Fr. Stephen knew from age seven or eight that he had a vocation. Having been raised in Denver in an orphanage run by the Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth, he went to Mass every day by his own choice.

In high school, he found his way to the Vincentians in Perryville, MO, entering the novitiate in the mid-1960s and becoming a brother because, as he put it, he did not think he could handle the academics associated with becoming a priest.

“I wouldn’t let anyone teach me,” he said.

Working as a brother in Perryville, he later decided he wanted to go to the missions. He was sent to work in Taiwan, in the Vincentian mission of China. During that time, he started to yearn for a more direct connection between the parishioners and the sacraments.

“It was in Taipei that I eventually ‘grew up’ and decided I wanted to be a priest,” Fr. Stephen said. “I was ordained in 1988, and everywhere I went, I made it a point to educate the people in the new liturgy.”

Back in the U.S. since 2007, he served in parishes from Missouri to Arizona to California before his present assignment two years ago as Parochial Vicar at Sacred Heart Parish.

“I see myself as helping people get closer to their faith,” he said. “Understanding why we do things is part of that. That is what St. Vincent did, and I want to be like him.”

Since this writing, Fr. Gallegos has started a new assignment as Director of the Daughters of Charity, Province of the West, in Los Altos, CA.