Father Francisco Garces, OFM Cap., longtime pastor of Our Lady of Guadalupe, dies at 94
FORT WORTH — Loving, caring, trustworthy, calm, composed, and easy going are words used by friends and parishioners to describe Father Francisco Garces, OFM Cap.
Fr. Garces, the first Filipino to be ordained a Capuchin friar, died September 15 — the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows — at age 94. He was ordained June 29, 1966 and served as a priest from 1997 to 2013 at Our Lady of Guadalupe in Fort Worth, where a Memorial Mass was celebrated September 20. He will be interred at the Capuchin cemetery in Lipa City in the Philippines.
Fr. Garces served 59 years as a Capuchin friar and 54 years as a priest. For many years, he was an administrator of St. Anthony School in Singalong, Manila when it was still under the care of Capuchins. From 1981-82, Fr. Garces served as finance director of Lourdes School of Mandaluyong and then served as a missionary in North Texas before returning to the Philippines just in time for his 50th priestly anniversary.
Tere Carter, a parishioner who knew him well while he served in Fort Worth, got to attend that special anniversary celebration. She said Fr. Garces was like a father to her and would stay with her in Fort Worth when he came back from the Philippines for visits.
Carter said, “Every member of this church loved the man,” who always conveyed a simple message: love one another.
“He would always say, ‘Help each other. Love each other. If you love God, you can love everybody,’” Carter recalled.
Parishioner Elma Granado said Fr. Garces was dear to the hearts of all he knew, and his gentle spirit was evident to those who met him.
“He never held a grudge, never showed anger, never said anything negative about anybody,” Granado said. “He was so calm and composed, so easy going.”
Since Fr. Garces’ return to the Philippines, he had been joyfully serving at St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Mandaluyong, until his advanced years made it difficult to do so.
In a 2009 interview with the NTC, Fr. Garces said his main mission in his priestly ministry is “to bring people closer to God — to bring them love and forgiveness, to save people from sin and give them hope. We’re not here to judge. We’re here to give forgiveness and love.”
He said “God has created us for one purpose — to be with Him in heaven. The Lord wants to help us, but He wants us to ask Him. He wants us to have confidence and trust Him.”
As a priest, Fr. Garces said he is most grateful for being called to serve God.
“In spite of our unworthiness, He calls us to serve Him. I am His instrument. That’s how I look at it. He called me to serve Him — to be His instrument of love to others.”
Deacon Thien Ta, a newly ordained deacon assigned to St. John the Apostle Parish in North Richland Hills, said it was a privilege getting to know Fr. Garces.
“One day, he accepted the invitation to have dinner at our home. On that evening, we learned about his beautiful vocation. He shared with us the meaning of poverty as a young Franciscan Capuchin, wearing sandals in the cold winter of Italy,” Dcn. Ta said. “His surrender to God for all things in life is so inspiring.”
Dcn. Ta said the most important thing his family learned from “this gentle and kind priest” is the virtue of humility.
“It is this virtue that leads to love, just as God’s Son humbled Himself to be one of us for our sake. Fr. Garces, may you rest in the loving arms of Christ, whom you served your whole life.”