By Tim Harfmann
Family, friends and parishioners gathered at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, to say their final farewells to Father Joseph Gancila, who died Jan. 6. He was 50 years old.
Ordained in 2001, Fr. Gancila was a parish priest who also worked with diocesan officials on combating abuse.
“He was teaching people how to keep themselves safe and their children safe,” explained MaryEllen Quinn, Safe Environment Coordinator for the Diocese of Brooklyn. “It meant a lot to him.”
Brooklyn Auxiliary Bishops James Massa and Octavio Cisneros presided over the Thursday morning funeral Mass, alongside dozens of priests and deacons.
One of them, Father Christopher Bethge, grew up where Fr. Gancila first began his ministry.
“He made me want to be an altar server,” Fr. Bethge recalled. “Seeing him live out his priesthood every day and to do it with joy, never angry, never saying no, always saying yes to the people need. It was a life I thought was heroic.”
“Any way they asked him to do that, he did joyfully,” Fr. Bethge added, “so any way they ask me, I’m going to try and do the same.”
It’s something Fr. Gancila’s sister, Linda, says was instilled in her brother as a child.
“He was always an altar server, really such a faithful guy and not just in church, but in the way he lives and his ministries,” she said. “I’ve never known a life without him.”
As the casket left the church, it was a standing ovation for a faithful servant.