UPDATE: Beloved Tucson priest Raul Valencia killed in crash on Interstate 19

Two-vehicle collision was 3 kilometers from earlier truck crash

UPDATE: Beloved Tucson pastor Raul Valencia killed in crash on Interstate 19

SAHUARITA, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - A well known and beloved Tucson-area pastor was killed in a two-vehicle crash on Interstate 19 on Friday, Feb. 7.

The Diocese of Tucson announced Fr. Raul Valencia, Pastor of Santa Monica Parish, died in the accident.

The Diocese said the 60-year-old Valencia was on his way to visit family in Nogales when the crash happened.

“This news comes as a tremendous shock to his family, parishioners, and friends,” Bishop Edward J. Weisenburger said in a news release. “I kindly ask your prayers for our dear Fr. Valencia, his family, and his parish.”

According to several KOLD News 13 viewers, Valencia was known to many as the “World Shortest Pastor.”

The viewers also said Valencia was loved by many and spent several years in Nogales before moving to Tucson.

According to the Arizona Department of Public Safety, the crash happened shortly before 8:15 a.m. near KM 78 just north of a truck crash that happened earlier in the morning.

Below is Father Valencia’s obit, provided by the Diocese.

Father Raul Alberto Valencia Garcia, pastor of St. Monica Parish in Tucson, who became a priest after a career as dentist, passed away Friday, Feb. 7 after a tragic car accent on Interstate 19 headed toward a family visit.

Father Valencia Garcia was 60.

He had been pastor at St. Monica Parish since July 1, 2011. It was his second assignment to the parish. St. Monica’s had been his first assignment as a newly-ordained priest in July 2003. That lasted until Oct. 14, 2004 when he was assigned to St. Jude Thaddeus in San Luis, Arizona. He ministered at St. Jude from November 2004 until he was assigned to St. Monica Parish in 2011.

Father Valencia Garcia, a native of Nogales, Sonora, Mexico, was born on July 28, 1959. He attended school at Colegio Fray Pedro de Gante School in Nogales, Sonora and went on to attend the Instituto Technologico de Nogales, (Sonora) from 1976 to 1979. He then went on to the Universidad Autonoma de Guadalajara in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico, and studied there from 1980 to 1985. He received his Doctor of Dental Surgery, (DDS) from the same school.

He started his first career – as a dentist. He had his own general dentistry practice for 11 years in Nogales, Sonora, Mexico, from 1986 to 1997.

From September 1997 to July 1998 he attended the Seminario Juan Navarrete y Guerrero, also referred to as the Seminario de Hermosillo. In 1998, he began attending Assumption Seminary in the Archdiocese of San Antonio, Texas, and completed his studies there in 2002. He served an internship through Assumption and the Oblate School of Theology and under the supervision of the Diocese of Tucson Vocations Office.

Father Valencia Garcia was ordained to the priesthood for ministry in the Diocese of Tucson on June 7, 2003.

Then Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas appointed Father Valencia as liaison with the Encuentros Matrimoniales for a three-year term beginning in April 2007.

Father Valencia Garcia is survived by his mother, Norma Garcia. He also is survived by five siblings: Lourdes Reyna; Edmundo Valencia Garcia; Denisse Mogollon, Yemille Garza and Maritza Mayer.

Funeral services are pending.

Correction: A previous version of this story stated that there would be a public vigil for Father Valencia on Saturday, Feb. 8, 2020. No such vigil was scheduled. As of Saturday, Feb. 8, memorial services are pending.

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