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Retired Auxiliary Bishop Francisco González dies in Spain at age 84

Bishop Francisco González, a priest for nearly 60 years who served as an auxiliary bishop of The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Washington from 2002 until his retirement in 2014, died March 4 at the residence of the Congregation of the Sons of the Holy Family in Barcelona, Spain. He was 84 years old.

Cardinal Gregory will offer a Memorial Mass for Bishop González on Thursday, March 14, at 5 p.m. at Saint Mark’s Church, Hyattsville, Maryland.

Born May 22, 1939, in Arcos de Jalon, Spain, Francisco González entered Seminario Misional de la Sagrada Familia in Barcelona in 1951, taking his final vows in the Congregation of the Sons of the Holy Family in 1960. He had a brother and a sister, both of whom also entered religious life in their native Spain.

The future bishop came to the United States to study theology, and received a master’s degree in comparative international education from The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., in 1967.

He was ordained to the priesthood for the Congregation of the Sons of the Holy Family on May 1, 1964, in Richmond, Virginia.  

Bishop González served as a teacher and chaplain in high schools and served in numerous parish assignments in The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Washington, New Mexico and Colorado. His religious community elected him on three occasions as a delegate to their General Chapters. He also formerly served as rector of Holy Family Seminary in Silver Spring, Maryland.

Bishop González served as the spiritual advisor to the Hispanic Charismatic Prayer Groups and the Cursillo Movement in this archdiocese, and from 1987 to 1989, he was the national chaplain for Cursillo.

In 1992, he was named coordinator of the Hispanic Family Life Office in The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Washington, and also served as the interim secretary for Parish Life and Worship. In 1995 he was appointed the administrator of Our Lady, Queen of the Americas Parish in Washington, D.C., and in 1996 was named pastor of Our Lady of Sorrows Parish in Takoma Park, Maryland. In 1997, he was appointed episcopal vicar for Hispanic Catholics, the primary liaison between the Archbishop of Washington and the region’s large Hispanic community.

In 1999, he began serving as the vice provincial of the North American Province for the Congregation of the Sons of the Holy Family. He held that post until Dec. 28, 2001, when he was named a bishop by Pope John Paul II, becoming the first member of the Sons of the Holy Family to receive such an appointment.

He was ordained a bishop in Washington, D.C., on Feb. 11, 2002.

Bishop González wrote a regular column for the El Pregonero newspaper, the Spanish-language sister publication of the Catholic Standard. His column won numerous awards from the Catholic Press Association, now known as the Catholic Media Association. He was also an internationally recognized speaker, leading retreats in the United States, Brazil, Venezuela, Spain, Mexico and Colombia. 

He was awarded the James Cardinal Hickey Award by the Spanish Catholic Center in 2012 for his dedication and service to the Washington area community.

In 2014, his resignation was accepted by Pope Francis, and he retired to Holy Family Seminary in Silver Spring, Maryland before moving to a residence of the Congregation of the Sons of the Holy Family in Barcelona until his death.

In an Oct. 8, 2021 column for the Catholic Standard marking Bishop González’s return to Spain, Cardinal Wilton Gregory called the retired bishop “an illustrious and very generous servant minister of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Washington.”

“His generous heart has been opened to the needs of countless thousands of our people,” Cardinal Gregory wrote. “Bishop González brought the depth and generosity of his faith and cultural legacy to our archdiocese, and for more than 60 years he enriched our lives, and we thank God for him.”

A funeral Mass for the late bishop will be offered in the “La Sagrada Familia” chapel of Les Corts in Barcelona on March 6 with interment in the cemetery of Les Corts. Washington Auxiliary Bishop Evelio Menjivar Ayala will represent the Archdiocese of Washington at the funeral Mass.