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Father René Gómez, priest and pastor
June 24th, 2009

A funeral Mass was celebrated June 11 at St. Bruno Church for Father René Gómez, retired pastor of the San Bruno parish. The priest died June 7 at Seton Medical Center from the effects of diabetes. He was 75 years old, and had been in declining health for the past several years.


Bishop William J. Justice, vicar of clergy, was principal celebrant at the funeral Mass, which was concelebrated by approximately 40 priests.


"Father Gomez was the kindest man," said Mary Schembri, care manager for priests in the Archdiocese of San Francisco. "He was very humble and never complained though faced with immense suffering from his illness over the last two years." The priest lived "to serve people" said Schembri. "He was the sweetest person on earth and just wonderful." The "outpouring of love from his parishioners" showed in the "packed church" for the funeral Mass, Schembri said.


Leading song were St. Bruno's Spanish, Tongan choirs. Prayers of the faithful were led in English, Spanish, Tagalog and Tongan.


Born in Orange Walk Town, British Honduras (now Belize), Central America, he was the fourth of nine children of Atilano and Petronila Castillo Gómez. His father's family had come to Belize from Yucatan, México; his mother's family, from New Orleans.


After graduating from La Inmaculada School and Saint John's College High School in Belize City, he attended Saint Michael's Seminary in Kingston, Jamaica, and then Cardinal Glennon College in Saint Louis, Missouri, where he studied from 1957-1959, followed by four years at Kenrick Seminary in Saint Louis.


Father Gómez was ordained by Bishop Robert L. Hodapp, S.J., for the Diocese of Belize on April 16, 1963. For 17 years, he served there in various assignments including his ministry for 11 years as Pastor of La Inmaculada Church, the parish in which he had grown up.


Father Gómez applied to the Archdiocese of San Francisco in 1981, and was initially assigned by Archbishop John Quinn as a parochial vicar at Saint Brigid Church. He was subsequently appointed to Church of the Epiphany and then to Saint James Church in San Francisco. On Sept. 12, 1986, Father Gomez was incardinated into the Archdiocese of San Francisco.


In 1988, he began ministering at Holy Angels Church, and after three years there, was assigned to Saint Raphael Parish in San Rafael. In 1997, then-Archbishop William J. Levada appointed Father Gómez Pastor of Saint Bruno Church, where he ministered until his retirement to Serra Clergy House on July 1, 2007.


Letters of condolence may be sent to Father Gomez' surviving brothers, Armando, Atilano, Santiago, and Ernesto at 6205 Asher Street, Metairie, LA 70003.

From June 26, 2009 issue of Catholic San Francisco.


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