Fr. Donald Richardson was born in 1931 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin to parents Frieda Wenzler and Alex Richardson. He was one of four children, along with brothers Jack and Kenneth, and sister Joyce.
On September 4, 1957, Fr. Richardson was ordained a priest for the Capuchin Order in the Province of St. Joseph Franciscans by Bishop John P. Treacy. He soon found deep fulfillment in Nicaragua and Honduras, where he served for nearly 20 years. His parishioners were spread across many villages – up to 25 at a time – and had not had a priest visit in many years. Fr. Richardson would write regular newsletters about the challenges facing his people, such as poverty and civil war. Even after returning to the United States, he would travel back to Nicaragua whenever he could, with his last visit happening in 2014.
“I believe I entered the priesthood in order to save my soul”, Fr. Richardson reflected. “But since then, my spirituality has developed, to include the People of God and my service to them. I have learned much in wisdom from the people I serve in ministry. They have helped me much to live the principles of the Gospel, which I preach, especially through the sacrifices in their own lives.”
Wishing to continue as a missionary, Fr. Richardson received permission to serve in the Diocese of Gallup, and was officially incardinated in the diocese in 1985. His service included assignments in Cibeque, AZ, Cedar Creek, AZ. He served again in Nicaragua from 1989-1997, before returning to the Diocese of Gallup as pastor in Lumberton, NM and as chaplain for St. Francis School.
Fr. Richardson retired in 2001 but continued to serve where needed throughout the diocese until 2018, when he devoted most of his service to the Missionaries of Charity and Sisters of Our Lady of Guadalupe and St. Joseph in Gallup, offering Mass for them in both English and Spanish.
In 2021 he moved to Villa Guadalupe in Gallup, run by the Little Sisters of the Poor, where he died on May 15, 2023.
Though he was faithful to his commitment to the Diocese of Gallup, his heart was always equally and prayerfully faithful with Miskito Indigenous and the poor in Nicaragua.
Fr. Richardson said that his greatest delight was “to be an instrument to lead people to a greater love of God and service for the Church”.
Assignments where Fr. Don Richardson served:
1958-1959: St Francis Parish, Milwaukee WI
1959-1960: St. Bonaventure Church, Detroit MI
1960-1975: Nicaragua, Vicariate of Bluefields, Iglesia de San Pedro, San Rafael, and Insituto Pio Doce
1975-1978: Honduras, Iglesia Catolica in Puerto Lempira
1978-1979: Nicaragua, Iglesia de San Rafael
1979: St. Matthew Parish in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee WI
1979-1982: St. Joseph, Waukesha WI
1982-1989: St. Catherine Parish, Cibecue AZ and St. Anthony, Cedar Creek AZ (Diocese of Tucson)
1986-1988: Vicar of Lower Arizona Deanery, Diocese of Gallup
1989: Granted permission by Bishop Jerome Hastrich to work with the Miskito Indigenous of Nicaragua
1997-2001: St. Francis Parish and School, Lumberton NM
2001-2018: Retired as an active priest but served throughout the Diocese where needed
2018-2023: Serving the religious sisters in Gallup, NM
Sunday, May 21, 2023
Visitation and viewing will be held on from 6:00-7:30 pm at Villa Guadalupe, 1900 Mark Avenue, Gallup NM
Monday, May 22, 2023:
Viewing: 10:00 AM on Monday, May 22, 2023 at St. Francis of Assisi Church, 214 West Wilson Ave, Gallup
Rosary: 10:30 AM at St. Francis of Assisi Church, Gallup
Funeral Mass: 11:00 AM at St. Francis of Assisi Church, Gallup
Burial: To follow at Hillcrest Cemetery, 390 11th st, Gallup
Reception: To follow at San Damiano Hall (St. Francis Parish Hall, 212 West Wilson Ave) – open to all in attendance
By the request of Fr. Richardson, memorial donations can be made to the Priest Retirement Fund for the Diocese of Gallup: https://dioceseofgallup.givecloud.co/good-shepherd-fund