Group mourns ‘distinctive’ priest killed in crash, Albuquerque Journal

Rev. Graham Golden (Norbertine Parish of Santa Mara de la Vid Abbey)

Copyright © 2021 Albuquerque Journal

For the Norbertines of Santa María de la Vid Abbey, Friday was a “community day”, a once-a-month occasion when members of the Catholic Order gave up their duties of being together and having the day to themselves.

“Self-care is not selfishness; You need to be able to find ways to exercise, step down, or take a few days off, ”said Abbot Joel Garner.

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But Garner also said it was difficult for Rev. Graham Golden to step aside. “There were too many things to do,” he said, “too many to be accomplished.”

Instead, a death and a funeral had been tied up on Isleta Pueblo Golden on Friday morning. That afternoon, Golden received a call that someone at the Presbyterian Rust Medical Center in Rio Rancho was “very sick or dying” and that there was no chaplain.

“He could have said, ‘No, it’s the chaplain’ s job, ‘but I think his desire to meet people’s needs was almost a mistake,” Garner said.

Missing dinner, Golden and brother Lorenzo Romero were on their way to pick up a pizza from a Dion’s restaurant up the street in the South Valley.

Garner received a call at 10:30 pm telling him the two had an accident and were in the hospital and “one is in pretty bad shape.” Golden did not survive. He was 35 years old.

Garner called Golden’s parents and went to the hospital, where he and the hospital chaplain gave a blessing on Golden’s body. Then they visited Romero, who had not received the message but “wanted to know immediately”.

“He was just moaning,” said Garner, “it’s just such a shock.”

Golden’s vehicle had a T-receipt Friday night when he left the abbey. The 24-year-old Romero was injured but is expected to recover.

“This is really heartbreaking. Ms. Graham has done so much for the community and his presence will be greatly missed, ”the Archdiocese of Santa Fe wrote on Facebook. “May eternal light shine on him.”

Jayme Fuller, spokeswoman for the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office, said MPs responded to the crash on Coors SW south of Pajarito around 9:30 p.m. She said Golden was turning north from the abbey entrance onto Coors when he and Romero were hit by a moving vehicle south.

Witnesses told MPs the vehicle was speeding up and potentially driving another vehicle that got out of hand to avoid the accident and sped away, Fuller said. She said no one was injured or arrested in the vehicle that crashed into Golden, although the investigation was still ongoing. The MPs are still looking for the third vehicle.

Investigators want to speak to anyone who may have witnessed the collision.

Garner called Golden an “extraordinary, talented man”.

Golden is from Albuquerque and graduated from St. Pius X High School. He studied music education and Spanish at the University of New Mexico. He joined the Norbertine congregation 12 years ago and was ordained a priest five years ago.

Brother Lorenzo Romero who was injured in the crash. (Norbertine parish of the Santa Mara de la Vid Abbey)

“Typical of Graham, he always has many things going on at the same time,” said Garner, a quality that would define his time at the abbey.

Golden was both appointment director and formation director of the abbey. Previously, he was pastor in the Church of Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary on the west side and most recently pastor in St. Augustine’s Church in Isleta Pueblo. Golden advised underserved communities how to articulate their grants securing needs. He held annual art exhibitions. When the pandemic hit and churches closed, he took on the responsibility of raising money, camera equipment, and video editing to produce short videos for Lent, Easter, and other religious holidays.

“He had more ideas than he had time to implement. He was a gifted person in that regard,” said Garner, describing Golden as a great leader with a “compassionate heart” who was very creative and often challenged his colleagues to “to stretch a little” in their duties.

On Saturday afternoon, Facebook was filled with messages from local residents and businesspeople expressing their sadness over Golden’s death and remembering his contributions to the community.

One man called Golden “a great friend and a great priest”.

“He’s helped me a lot and was always a phone call away… I’m absolutely heartbreaking and words can’t express how great he was. Thank you father for everything. Take care of me as you did on earth, ”the man wrote.

One woman shared a photo of Golden, smiling widely under a silly wizarding hat, and calling him “an angel on earth.”

“I know he will stay in his transition now,” she wrote. “He helped me through our loss through counseling, gentle empathy, and sincere care. His death will be felt by so many he has touched. “

Another person said Golden’s spirituality was “hard earned and authentic”.

“The sun will set a little less pink and perfect that day than all the days he’s lived,” the person wrote. “Rest in peace, Graham.”

The Rev. Graham Golden illuminates Luminarias in front of the Abbey of Santa Maria de la Vid in front of Las Posadas in 2018. (Adolphe Pierre-Louis / Albuquerque Journal)

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