Senior Moments
Senior Friar Newsletter of Our Lady of Guadalupe Province
August, 2005

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Senior Friar Profile:



Yes, Diego was delivered on November 20, 1930 by his father in a covered wagon on the way to a nurse midwife because a flash flood blocked their way. He was born Epitacio Gilberto Felipe de Sandoval y Mazon, Jr! He got “Pete” from “’Pitasio” and was often called Ju- nior, which he hated. (No wonder he kept Diego!)


Diego lived on a ranch between Zuni and Atarque where they raised cattle, beans, and vegetables until hewas 6 or 7 years old.

Then they moved to the big metropolis of Gallup. His family lived with his grandparents until they built two rooms and an outhouse with adobes which Diego helped his Mom and Dad make on week ends.

At 13 Diego started working at a drug store as stock boy and washing dishes at a restaurant. He remembers seeing the friars at the

bowling alley and was struck by their joy and camaraderie while most others fought and argued.

His Dad had worked at the Wingate Arms Depot and Storage building and then at the Manhattan Cafe where he learned to cook. He started a restaurant which, except for a hired dishwasher, was a "family affair." Beginning when he was a Junior in High School, Diego would sleep after school and cook from 10 PM to 6 AM and then race to the Cathedral on his bike to serve 6 AM Mass.

Diego went to public schools until he was thrown out in his junior year for fighting. There was a lot of antagonism and fighting between the Anglos and the Mexicans and the Indians.


Both of Diego's grandpas were from Sonoita, Sonora, Mexico on the Arizona border. They went by covered wagon to Tierra Amarilla (Spanish land grants) and then to San Jose, now called SanFidel . They had an orchard at San Jose. His Dad's family moved to San Rafael and then to a ranch near Atarque.

Both his grandparents married Indian ladies, his Mom's dad an Apache sheepherder and his Dad dad a Zuni Indian. His mom and dad met at San Jose as children. Later they got together again through family visits between his grandpa's ranc and his Mom's folks fro Concho, Arizona near St.Johns, Arizona to which they moved from San Jose. Diego has one younger sister in Albuquerque and his parents adopted two first cousins whose families were unable to support them. Hi second sister lives in Las Cruces with her husband and his brother and his family live at the Continental Divide.


A friend who played the trumpet invited him to go to a mission at St. Francis parish given by Hyacinth Blocker in his Junior year

in high school. Up to this time he hadn't gone to Church for ages but went to the mission and it was then he decided to be a priest. He graduated from Cathedral High School in 1948. He talked to Anthony Korcek about being a Franciscan and began learning Latin with Fr.

Ralph Zinzer. Ralph talked him into going to the Immaculate Heart of Mary seminary in Santa Fe.

He studied Religion and Latin at the seminary and took college courses at "Santa Fe" college taught by the Christian Brothers for two years.

The third year (1950-51) he went to the BenedictineSeminary in Conception Missouri which was a richintroduction to liturgy for him. All the seminarians there talked about was money and finances so he decided to go to St. Francis Seminary which made Bishop Espelage rather


His first year ('51-'52) as special classman at the seminary he took first year Latin, Greek, and GermanI and II. October of '51 he was thrown out of German class! He aced Greek. He was put into 4th year Latin although he had had only two years oà Latin. Some of his professors were Adolf Kirst taught religion; Leonar Foley was disciplinarian; Brian Irvin was an inspiration; Randolf Thompson played the piano for community singing; Ralph Ohlman was famous for his Latin Poetry. (Hey, this is making me feel old! That's the same time I was in the seminary!)

Diego skipped one year at DSC and his three years there he hated! It was cold, wet, dreary and he didn't understand half the stuff. Philibert Ramstetter drovehim nuts, Leander and Roy Efler gave a bit of enthusiasm to DSC.

After his fifth year at Dayton as a junior priest, Gabriel Buscher assigned almost all their class to teaching. Melory, Elliot, Diego, and Maynard at Roger Bacon and Ivo went to Gallup to teach Physics.Diego taught chemistry to the advanced class although he had only 1 year of chemistry at night school in Dayton. After the first year he taught ALL the chemistry. The stress level was pretty high, but he also had a lot of fun and enjoyed it once he got into the routine and he especially enjoyed the other teachers.

It was the time of the "Hippie generation" and in one of his later years Diego grew a mustache and goatee on vacation. This lost him friendship with a lot of teachers and made Laurian Rausch, the principal, very upset with him. He simply told Laurian, "If you don't like it, fire me!" Laurian "backed off."


Diego had since ordination wanted to go to the Southwest. After 11 years at Roger Bacon, Roger Huser asked him where in the Southwest he wanted to go. (Roger, he says, liked the Southwest.) He went to St. John, Roswell. He packed in a hurry and left half his stuff at St.George. He said: "It was a mistake not to take my books with me." He was with Howard Meyer and Burcard Fisher, chaplain at the Poor Clares, who was his "salvation" as he would take time to sit and talk to Diego.

At Roswell, he worked with the Mexican Crusillo which he loved. He said:
“After the people of St. John Parish lived a Cursillo I had them attend classes once a week to build up on what they learned at the Cursillo. Many of the people were Mexican working on the cotton farms andwere not literate. So I suggested they record the classes, which I taught in Spanish.”

Diego was three years at San Fidel and Cubero Mission where he taught guitar and worked with church music.

In 1979 Andy Fox asked him to begin a formation program in the S.W. withGino. He was todraw up a plan and he offered three. One was “way out” basedon the 12 step program and scripture and therule and the writings of St. Francis. The second was academic. Thethirds was “traditional” which the council ac-cepted. Diego was electeddefinitor so he had this plus the job of vocation director and formation. In his ten years in formation only three candidates out of all they worked with went to the Novitiate, Maynard Shurley, Mike Burns, and Richard Young.

In 1990 he went to Fort Defiance and in 1994 to Gallup for 9 years. He en-joyed his hometown of Gallup and had the funer-als for his mom and Dad and all but 2 of his 16 and all but 2 of his 16 aunts and uncles.

Now Diego says he is getting used to being retired. He is getting back to reading historical and native American novels. He’s also gotten very interested in Greek and Egyptian mythology and how so much of it parallels, points to Christianity. John Campbell on PBS, an ex Catholic, renewed his interest in this.

His hobby is watching football (Vikings?). He’d like to go to Assisi and Spain, the country of his original patron, St. Didacus. He and Maynard S. and George W. made their annual pilgrimage to Las Vegas at the end of April and it was all free! (Ask Diego!)

In 1989 Diego had a heart attack and double by pass surgery. Some years ago he had an aneurism and they put in a shunt which, he says, saved his life. Currently health wise, Diego is doing pretty good. He’s pretty pain free from arthritis in his hips and knees. His knee problem goes back to a time when Alex Ripperger slid into him and Cornelius wouldn’t let him go get it x-rayed.

He exercises at the heart center. “I need to lose 20 lbs. I lost six and then I plateaued!”

Quite a history!!! Diego is certainly photogenic! They sent me 12 photos of him from the archives!


The High School Seminary Graduating Class of ‘55 celebrated 50 years on June 24 at a Restaurant in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Does that make us Seniors?) Four from the class are deceased. Some of those attending were: Charles Neuhaus, Gilbert Schneider, Bill Westendick, Charles Rausch, George Smigielski, Murray Bodo, Bernard Lohkamp, Joe Buening, Terry McNally, George S. and Terry M. were the ones who got it all together. Terry and George asked everyone to send in a sketch of their life and put together a booklet which they gave to each one of us. Bill O’Neill (Now Doctor O’Neill from Iowa) sent me a photo of three of the class, a “blast out of the past!.” Will print it next issue and maybe someone can do a little more in depth article on the reunion! Ed.

Our Lady of Guadalupe Senior Friars

Curia Juan Diego

1350 Lakeview Road, SW

Albuquerque, NM 87105-6178

Phone: 505 877 5425


Senior Friar Committee:

Chairperson: Larry Schreiber

Council Liaison: Bruce Michalek

Convener: Ben Begin (Councilor)

Committee members: Berard Doerger, Cecil Kleber

Crispin Butz, George Ward.

Joe Nelson, Newsletter Coordinator, e-mail:, 10129 HAYNES ROAD.


Phone:915 860 9680, Cell 915 525 0750


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