Friday, July 30, 2010

Remembering Segundo Galilea two months after his death

by Carmen Elena Villa (English translation by Rebel Girl)

As a clear, simple priest of deep thoughts, that is how Maria Barbagallo in Tuesday's edition of the newspaper L'Osservatore Romano remembered Segundo Galilea, the Chilean priest and writer who died on May 27.

"If we want a more missionary, consistent and witnessing Church, one that participates more in communion," Father Galilea used to say, "it means that we want a Church that is more spiritual, more prayerful and more contemplative, that is to say, more beautiful."

His life

Segundo Galilea was born in the capital of Chile on April 3, 1928. He was ordained a priest in 1956. At the beginning of the 60s he worked in Cuernavaca, Mexico, preparing missionaries.

The Latin American Episcopal Conference summoned him to publicize the Second Vatican Council in an itinerant pastoral institute, of which he became the director in the cities of Medellin and Bogota, Colombia.

Until 1975, he toured Latin America, committed to offering reflections, retreats and spiritual exercises. Then he began a relationship with the Pontifical Mission Societies and along with other priests, he organized a foreign missionary institute.

He traveled several times to the Philippines and South Korea. He worked in the United States with immigrant communities. He also collaborated on important theological journals on this continent.

He gave the money he gathered from royalties and lectures to the archdiocese of Santiago de Chile to fund spiritual retreats in the poor areas of his country.

In 1997, the archbishop of Santiago de Chile asked him to be part of a group of experts to draft the conclusions of the ninth diocesan synod.

In 2000, he left for Cuba where he served as the spiritual director of the San Carlos seminary in that country.

"In Cuba, one works with few resources, few priests and religious, but you learn to make the best of life, to take everything or little, to value what is essential," the priest said in an interview in 2001. He then returned to Santiago de Chile for health reasons.

Action with prayer

Some define Father Galilea as a "liberation theologian" because he belongs to the period in which this current spread in Latin America. However, "he was never an extremist nor did he ever let himself be manipulated by fervent trends or sterile and superficial polemics," María Barbagallo recalls.

The author recalled how this priest "lived his commitment in faithful obedience to Jesus Christ and the Church and his tireless preaching was centered on Jesus of Nazareth, the Church, mission and evangelization."

Bargaballo also highlighted the content of his writings, "dense with missionary mystique, with a commitment to Jesus, poor and obedient, with attempts to get the people of the Church to reflect that there is no missionary dynamism without a radical commitment to Jesus Christ."

Father Galilea was much in harmony with the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, founded by St. Frances Cabrini (1874 - 1914), and began traveling to Brazil, Argentina, Italy, and the United States, giving lectures on spirituality and mission and urging them to involve more lay people in their mission.

At his funeral, Father Fernando Tapia Miranda said that his life could be summed up in one phrase: "a living testimony to the radicalism of the Gospel."

"He had nothing of his own," the priest remembered. "In the final years, he lived in a little room in our pontifical seminary. He never had a car, as far as we could tell. He traveled with his little suitcase in hand and his eternal pipe."

See also Segundo Galilea (1928-2010), In Memoriam: Una Espiritualidad de la Liberación by Xabier Pikaza Ibarrondo, 7/29/2010


  1. Thanks for translating this.

    Father Segundo's books and reflections have meant a lot to me, providing a profound spirituality to the practice of liberation.

    I often read his reflections on the daily and Sunday Gospels.

    Que descance en paz.

  2. Fr. Galilea's thoughts are inspiration to the Carmelite spirituality. Our books are foot-noted by his "Following Jesus"

    Little One of Jesus