|Fr Jorge Bugallo García, LC|
In the following testimony, a newly ordained priest, Fr Jorge Bugallo
García, LC, describes how Christ used him to fulfill the Promise
of the Sacred Heart to a 17-year-old girl.
June 9, 2010.
San Giovanni Rotondo, Italy. A priest’s life is full of
unique and unrepeatable experiences. He is “taken from among men
and chosen to represent them” (Heb. 5:1). Unlike other more
“ordinary” moments, this one marked my life in a profound
way from its very beginning—and also marked my incipient priestly
I was ordained to the priesthood on December 12, 2009,
on the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, in Rome.
That day, at 10:30 in the morning, Christ had made
me his priest forever. It was a Saturday, the 12th
of December, in the Year for Priests. I could not
have asked for more. That night, I couldn’t sleep a
wink from the excitement and the reality of what I
had lived that morning. Well, God was already in a
hurry, and Our Lady did not waste the opportunity.
December 13, I celebrated my first Mass, right on the
altar of Our Lady of Guadalupe, next to the tomb
of St Peter, and just a few meters from John
Paul II’s tomb. What an immense grace! I felt profoundly
happy and could not contain myself in the homily. Amidst
tears and emotions, I kept repeating “Thank you!” to God,
to our Mother in heaven, and to all those who
accompanied me in these twenty-some years of preparation and formation.
And yet, even then, heaven was carefully preparing a great
event for the following day.
On Monday, December 14, I went
with my family to San Giovanni Rotondo, where Padre Pio’s
monastery and tomb are located. It was over five hours
away from Rome, but it was worth the effort, because
I had reserved an altar to celebrate Mass there, and
we wanted to visit the place. We arrived around midday
and I was able to celebrate Mass at the appointed
time. By six in the afternoon—we had already fully enjoyed
the day—and it was getting dark out. We got into
the car to come back to Rome. My brother asked
if he could stop by a shop to fix his
cell phone, since it wasn’t working. It was already late
and starting to drizzle. But we stopped to look for
a shop so that my brother Luis could solve his
problem. One thing led to another, and half an hour
later, he bought a phone card and that took care
The clock showed that it was 6:45 when we
finally started heading down the mountain along the national highway,
heading toward the freeway that would lead us to Rome.
The going was slow because of the darkness and the
rain. Added to that was the fact that a motorcycle,
driven by a young woman at a very prudent speed,
was setting the pace for the (at least) seven vehicles
behind her. While we prayed the Rosary, halfway down the
mountain, I suddenly noticed that the motorcycle had disappeared after
one of the countless “tornanti” or hairpin curves.
I noticed because
the line started to move more quickly and the motorcycle
was no longer visible. But a few curves down the
road… I saw the motorcycle! It was about five meters
from the highway, with its headlight on, lying down with
its front wheel turned in the wrong direction. At that
moment, something inside me told me: “Stop and go down!”
I stopped the car on the side of the highway
and told my mother and my brother to wait for
me, that it would be something quick. I got out
of the car.
It was still raining and the only
light guiding me was from the headlight of the partially
dented motorcycle. I noticed, from the state of the motorcycle,
that whoever was driving it had suffered an accident or
at least a bad fall. I called out to see
if anyone heard me. There was no answer. I tried
again, a little stronger, with the best Italian I could
muster. No one answered. As it was the forest, full
of overgrown shrubs, and hard to see, I imagined the
Since the motorcycle headlight was pointing toward some trees, I
walked toward them. I was completely taken aback when a
few meters ahead, I saw the girl who had been
on the motorcycle just a few minutes earlier while we
were descending the mountain. I was horrified to see that
her left arm had been completely amputated, and her shoulder
was bleeding nonstop. She had only half of her other
arm, from her shoulder to her elbow, and it was
also bleeding profusely. Her legs were thrown up toward her
shoulders, and both were completely broken. She seemed like a
broken doll, but in reality she was a living person.
It was a spectacle that you wouldn’t wish on anyone.
came closer. Her face was only half visible, since the
helmet had been smashed onto her head, crushing the entire
right side of her head and face. Only her left
eye was visible. I spoke into her ear, saying, “I’m
a priest… can you hear me? If you want, I
can give you the absolution… If you agree, it’s enough
for you to make some small movement…” I saw her
head move a little.
Meanwhile, my mother had come closer,
and she screamed. My brother also came, alerted by the
scream. I asked my brother to use his cell phone—which
was now working—to call an ambulance from the town. Fifteen
minutes later, the ambulance came. During that time, I was
with the girl, accompanying her and trying the best I
could to squelch the flow of blood from the places
in her body where she was bleeding. And most importantly,
I gave her the absolution. She was the first person
to whom I gave this sacrament—only 60 hours had gone
by since my ordination.
The paramedics came and took her
pulse. She was very week. “Non ce la fa,” one
of them whispered to me. “She’s not going to make
it.” I took the girl in my arms, and while
I was carrying her to the ambulance, she looked me
in the face, closed her visible eye, and her head
fell forward on her neck: she left this world. She
went to heaven while she was in my arms. Her
name was Rosanna and she was 17 years old.
it happened. Among the girl’s belongings, we found her cell
phone, and we were able to call her mother. She
lived in a town ten kilometers away from the accident.
Imagine what it is like to tell a mother that
her daughter has just died in a road accident. In
our conversation, I also told her:
"Signora, sono sacerdote; anzi, novello
sacerdote, ordinato sabato scorso. Guardi, (…) ho avuto l’opportunità di
compartire con la Sua figlia Rosanna gli ultimi minuti della
sua vita (…), e sono davvero molto contento di aver
comminciato così il mio ministero sacerdotale."
“Ma’am, I am a priest.
I was just ordained on Saturday. Look, I had the
opportunity to share your daughter Rosanna’s last moments of life,
and I am very happy to begin my priestly ministry
In between tears and with her voice breaking, the
mother thanked me for the call and among all the
words she said, which I was not fully able to
understand (she spoke a kind of regional dialect), I did
hear her say:
"Padre, Lei é sacerdote. Sa, Padre, mia figlia
è molto devota del Sacro Cuore. Io sono una persona
credente, come mia figlia. E non so perché, ma certamente
una cosa so bene. Rosanna ha fatto due volte la
novena al santissimo Cuore di Gesù. Cioè, ha preso la
comunione e si è confessata i nove primi venerdì del
mese un paio di volte. Quindi, non poteva andarsene senza
l’aiuto del Cuore di Gesù. Grazie, Padre, e Dio la
“Father, you are a priest. Father, you should know
that my daughter was very devoted to the Sacred Heart.
I am a believer like my daughter. And I don’t
know why, but I do know one thing. Rosanna did
the novena to the Sacred Heart twice. She had Communion
and confessed on the first nine Fridays of the month
a few times. That is why she could not die
without the help of the Heart of Jesus. Thank you,
Father, and may God bless you always.”
The words speak for
themselves. I do not remember them all exactly, but that
was as much as I remember.
That night, we got to
Rome around dawn. I could not sleep. I kept thinking
about everything I had lived a few hours earlier. It
is not easy to explain the things that happen to
you sometimes, at least, not like that. I was just
starting to assimilate the priesthood I had received a few
hours earlier and God was already asking for my help.
Two paths crossed that night: Rosanna’s and mine. And Christ
was in a hurry that night. My brother’s cell phone,
which hadn’t been working, had slowed down our departure. Then
the accident happened while we were praying the Rosary. Thanks
to my brother’s cell phone, which was now working, we
were able to call the ambulance and Rosanna’s mother.
very clear. There are no coincidences in life. Just God’s
hand and the intercession of the Blessed Virgin were enough
to work the miracle, to bring a person to heaven.