TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - More than 1,000 people attended Father Raul Valencia’s funeral at St. Augustine Cathedral on Tuesday afternoon.
“Father Raul Valencia leaves us a deep scar in our hearts because he was a good leader, good priest, good preacher and as a person he was wonderful,” Deacon Ignacio Arbizu said.
Family, friends and members of the catholic community filled every pew at the cathedral to honor the beloved Santa Monica Parish pastor. The 60-year-old priest was on his way to visit family in Nogales when he died in a collision on Interstate 19 on Feb. 7.
"I can see lots of faces from different parts of Arizona, even from Mexico, that came here to give their last goodbye to our pastor,” Arbizu said.
Fifty or more priests and deacons from around the diocese attended the funeral.
"We're going to miss him very much,” said Monsignor Raul Trevizo of St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church. “His smile, his good humor, yes even his stubbornness."
"A part of us has died, has gone before us, as we did not expect his departure,” Trevizo said.
Valencia first worked as a dentist in Nogales for 11 years before leaving his practice to become a priest. He was on his second assignment at the Santa Monica Parish.