Brother César Galán of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles is now officially a priest!
At 50 years old, and after a troubled youth that left him in a wheelchair, he remembers how he found God amid the tragedy and the pain of losing his brother.
On June 3, Archbishop José H. Gómez ordained eight new priests for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. Among them was Father César Galán.
In an interview conducted for LA Catholics, Father Galán recounted his inspiring story of faith.
Father Galán was the sixth of eight children. From an early age, he was educated in the faith by his father, who took him to Mass and taught him to pray the Rosary.
Yet in Artesia, the Los Angeles County city where he grew up, the streets frequently offered many temptations and little opportunity. To keep him off the streets, a friend offered him a job in a warehouse at age 13.
Those years of working the night shift allowed him to buy a car and move to a better neighborhood after high school.
However, on April 3, 2001, his life turned upside down.
After getting off work, he went to spend time with a few acquaintances in his friend's backyard. Among them, Father Galán recalled, was his brother, Héctor, and “one of the boys from the neighborhood” who had just been released from jail.
Hector and the man began to argue. They eventually left to continue their discussion in the front yard, but Hector returned to ask his brother for his car keys.
"I thought to myself, okay, no problem," Father Galán said.
Shortly after, he heard a shot. He immediately ran out and collided with the fleeing man after shooting his brother. Galán then tried to take the weapon from the assailant's hands.
The next thing he knew, he was lying on the pavement, unable to move. Two bullets hit him--one in the shoulder and one in the spine.
A moment of peace then seized the young man.
“I heard a voice deep inside of me just saying, ‘Do not be afraid, I’ll be with you always,’" he recalled.
Discovering God amid pain
Two days later, Galán opened his eyes again in a hospital room at St. Francis Medical Center in Lynwood after being heavily sedated for a series of operations. The shot to the spine left him permanently paralyzed from the waist down.
Meanwhile, he was unaware that his brother was unconscious and on life support in the next room.
The hospital chaplain arranged for Galán to be taken to Hector's room while he was still connected to the machines. The two brothers were left face-to-face, lying in their respective beds.
“I didn't say it out loud, but I told him this is not the end: 'One day I will close my eyes, and when I open them, I know you will be there, you will be the first to greet me.'"
After his brother died and the incident left him paralyzed, César began a process that he described as "surrender."
In the recovery process, he became a close friend of the chaplain, who was his gateway to reconciling with Jesus and returning to the Church.
“He was Jesus to me at the time,” he recalled.
Thus, his faith was reawakened, and several years later, in 2015, he decided to go one step further and made his profession of perpetual vows as a friar for the sick and poor in the same hospital chapel where was admitted after the incident.
Two years later, he entered the seminary. Then on June 3, 2023, he became a priest.
More than 20 years after the incident and the loss of his brother, Father César remembers: "Where there is a will, there is a way."