Hundreds of people gathered in south Sacramento on Sunday night to honor a religious icon more than three decades after his passing.

Sacramento’s lowrider and Hispanic communities came together to remember Bishop Alphonse Gallegos. He served as Sacramento’s auxiliary bishop from 1981 to 1991 – and he touched so many lives during that time.

The lowrider community came out in full force Sunday night in front of St. Rose Catholic Church in Sacramento for “The Bishop’s Cruise.”

Richard Alcala, who helped organize the event, said he remembers cruising on the streets of Sacramento in the late 1970s, which is when he met Gallegos.

As an advocate for lowriders, Gallegos would bless the cars. That was reenacted Sunday night in his honor by an emissary representing the Vatican. Alcala also said Gallegos was a champion for members of the Hispanic community, and he worked to put them on the right path.

“It was like having a father figure in the street,” Alcala said. “He would come out, talk to us, tell us to stay out of trouble, and talk to a parole officer if he had to, and just stay in school, and basically stay out of trouble.”

Gallegos was ordained as Sacramento’s auxiliary bishop in 1981, after already being well-known for his ministry working with young Hispanics in Los Angeles. Catholics mourned his death in October 1991, when he was hit by a car while helping a stranded motorist.

There is an ongoing effort to grant Gallegos sainthood. His body was exhumed in 2010 as part of that process. In order to become a saint, officials said there need to be two miracles attributed to Gallegos, that can not be explained by science. Now, more than three decades after his death, city leaders in Sacramento said they hope to make “The Bishop’s Cruise” an annual event.

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