By Malie Hudson
On May 18, Bishop Gerald Barnes will ordain three men to the priesthood. It will be the culmination of nearly a decade of formation for Ted Drennan, Juan Carlos Lopez and Charles “Gino” Galley, who came from various backgrounds to pursue a vocation to the priesthood.
Galley, 32, began his vocation after converting to the Catholic faith on Easter Vigil in 2005 at St. John XXIII Parish in Rialto.
“Being a priest is something I never wanted to be,” admits Galley. “That was not the first thing on my list.”
Although he had other plans, he felt a different call.
“The priest who gave me the Sacraments was the one who inspired me to want to become a priest,” Galley recalls. “He did nothing extraordinary. He just did the ordinary so well.
“Whenever he spoke, he would look at you in the eye. When he preached, he would preach clearly and well. Whenever I asked him for a blessing, he would do so with such a loving heart. When I observed him doing the ordinary with such love, I told myself that I want to be that, too.”
He received an associate degree in Business Administration from Chaffey College in Rancho Cucamonga in 2010. He felt a call to enter the seminary but ignored it due to a speech challenge.
“I came to the point where I told myself that I will give it a chance. I was turned down from several different religious orders primarily because I had a speech impediment,” said Galley. “In searching for my vocation, I hit a brick wall when one director of a religious order told me that the first Sunday I give my homily, people will not return. I wanted to give up.”
His pastor at St. John XXIII encouraged him to give the diocesan seminary program a shot. The Diocese accepted him on the condition that he take speech therapy and work on his speech.
He entered the seminary, completed his bachelor’s degree in philosophy and master’s in Divinity. Last year, he completed his pastoral internship at St. Catherine of Alexandria in Temecula, which included delivering his first public homily.
“I remember that morning very well. It was the 10 a.m. Mass. As we were in procession to the altar the words of the vocation director haunted me,” he recalls. “I remember feeling this anxiety and stress. I looked up to the image of our Lord on the crucifix and I remember praying ‘Lord, your will be done.’”
The Mass continued and it was time to deliver his homily.
Although he stuttered at times when Galley finished his homily the whole congregation broke out in applause. He says this taught him that despite his speech impediment he has a gift for preaching.
“It was the community and my pastor who embraced me for who I was and empowered me by affirming me and my gifts despite my weaknesses,” he says. In having this I can see why God did not answer my prayer in healing me from this speech challenge because God wanted me to have the experience of being embraced right where I was at and being loved where I was at.”
Galley wants to provide that same kind of support to others as a priest. “I want to affirm people where they are and tell people no matter what your weaknesses are, you are loved, you are special and that God has a plan for you.”
After high school, Galley had plans to be an entertainer before his vocation to the priesthood became clear. He produced his own music and still creates some songs to this day. His music is available to the public on SoundCloud.
“The music I produce is a reflection of my faith and my seminary journey.”
Malie Hudson is a freelance writer based in Riverside.