Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish
Peralta, New Mexico, USA

Rev. Albert M. Gallegos, O.S.M.
July 11, 1936 - March 15, 2007

Robert Tobias Gallegos was born in Belen, New Mexico on July 11, 1936. His parents, Ignacio V. Gallegos and Stella Sanchez, were New Mexico natives. Robert was one of eleven children.

St. Mary’s Grammar School in Belen was the stepping stone for eight years of Robert’s Catholic education. He then went to the Seminary of the Servite Fathers in Hillside, Illinois. Robert was graduated, and returned home for the summer before starting his years of spiritual training, the Novitiate, at Grandville, Wisconsin.

After completing this year of spiritual training, Robert took the new name of Albert. Brother Albert also completed his first year of college at Grandville. He was then assigned to study Philosophy in Northern Ireland, where Benburb College is the House of Studies for the Servite Fathers in Ireland. He returned to the U.S.A. at Loyola University in Chicago, where he received a B.A. Degree in Philosophy with minors in History and Spanish. His theological studies were at Stonebridge Priory in Lake Bluff, Illinois. He received his B.A. in Theology at his Ordination, as well as an S.T.L. from Stonebridge, an affiliate of Catholic University in Washington, D.C. Father Albert was ordained to the priesthood in the Order of Friar Servants of Mary (The Servite Order) in Santa Fe on May 23, 1964.

Additional studies both preceded and followed his ordination. He received an M.A. in Spanish Literature and Culture from Loyola University in Chicago the summer before his ordination. He also completed work in counseling in the graduate school at Loyola. Governors State University in Park Forest South, Illinois, conferred its first M.A. degree in Ethnic studies to Father Albert. Two summers of theological studies at Conception Abbey in Conception, Missouri. He also studied Mexican literature and culture for one year at the University Autonima in Mexico City.

After his ordination, Father Albert was assigned to teach Spanish language skills and theology at St. Phillip High School in Chicago, Illinois. He was also the moderator for the school newspaper and publications, and continued his studies at Loyola in psychology and speech. He was returned to St. Phillip, and then was assigned to Mater Dolorosa Seminary as Assistant Master of Students and Instruction. He served as the seminary’s finance director, as well as continuing to teach Spanish and theology there. Father Albert then became an instructor at North Eastern Illinois University, where he taught in the Department of Sociology for five years. He also taught at Malcolm X College in Chicago, Illinois. While teaching in these universities, he was also assigned to two parishes as Director of Hispanic Affairs. He also served as chaplain at Rush Presbyterian St. Lukes Hospital in Chicago for five years, and was also chaplain at Trinity High School in River Forest and at Immaculate Heart of Mary High School in Westchester. He served as the pastor of St. Donatus Church.

Father Albert was reassigned to the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, where he spent the rest of his priestly career and his life. He was assigned first to the University of Albuquerque in Albuquerque, New Mexico. After teaching there for two years, he was assigned to the Communications Department of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, subsequently being appointed Director of Communications and Media. He received a scholarship from USCC to study communication skills at Loyola University in New Orleans, Louisiana. He served communications internships at WGN in Chicago, Illinois, and at KOB in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Father Albert also completed several courses in TV production and communication skills at Barr University in Miami, Florida.

While on assignment as Director of Communications for the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, Father Albert was assigned as Associate Pastor at Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Alameda, New Mexico. He was then assigned as Pastor of Holy Child Parish in Tijeras, New Mexico, followed by assignments as Pastor of Saint Thomas Aquinas in Albuquerque, and Our Lady of Guadalupe in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Finally, Father Albert became our Pastor at Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish in Peralta, New Mexico.

Father Albert’s journalistic talents include writing a bilingual column for The New World. He has written feature articles for the Chicago Sun-Times, the National Catholic Reporter, and the National Catholic News Service in Washington, D.C. He was the founder and editor of the Catholic newspaper People of God in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He has written several bilingual books for children, including The Wise Owl of the Ballet, A Christmas Story, The Turtle That Didn’t Want to be a Turtle, God In My Pocket, Shalom, An Easter Story, and El Cocqui. Father Albert was producer, writer, and host for a half-hour TV show produced for the Archdiocese of Santa Fe that was scheduled twice a month at KOAT, the ABC affiliate in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He also produced a children’s video, Santa and the Flying Balloons - A Christmas Story.

Father Albert had his own style, and always did things in a way that was just a little bit different from everyone else. The largest number of people saw his style most broadly in his celebration of the Mass. He always had up begin Mass by greeting all those around us, not waiting till the sign of peace. And he always led the congregation in saying the Our Father (The Lord’s Prayer) in both Spanish and English, with the parishioners joining hands across the aisles. In recent years, he always included among the petitions our request to God to watch over the men and women in the armed forces of the United States. The time after Communion was always for him a time for thanksgiving, and he nearly always asked the congregation to join in with words very like “And is there anyone else who has something to be thankful for, that we may thank Him with you?” He was always doing things like this to bring about maximum participation. And at the end of the Mass, after giving the final blessing, he always asked us all for our blessing.

His homilies frequently included stories and poems, often repeated so they became familiar to the parishioners. Near Christmas, he often used the story of the old cobbler waiting for a visit from the Lord. In telling the story, he usually placed the cobbler’s home in Peralta or Los Lunas. The poems he used sections of were The Children’s Hour and A Psalm of Life by Longfellow (his most used line was from the latter poem) and In Flanders Fields by McCrae. A poem of his own was used in homilies and on the flyer available at his Rosary services.

Father Albert seemed to particularly enjoy the Masses with visitors — St. Nicholas, the Three Kings, or the like. He would always ask the visitors questions. One common one was how the visitor traveled to Peralta. One visiting St. Nicholas said he had arrived by hot air balloon. This year’s Three Kings — arriving just after a record-breaking snowstorm — said they had to switch to snowmobiles.

His two biggest hobbies, baking and gardening, both came to him early in life. He learned how to bake as a lad while working at Gil’s Bakery in Belen. Later in life, he made pies — especially pecan pies — 20 to 30 at a time. But he was notorious for his cookies. Indeed, he often said he was going to get to heaven one cookie at a time. He would sometimes be up to 3 o’clock in the morning making great batches of huge cookies. And they were almost never plain as he preferred to make them filled with piñons, raisins, or fruit. He gave cookies to everyone; seldom would any visitor get away without some of his famous cookies.

Growing up in Jarales on the family farm, it was natural that he would develop a knack for gardening. He returned to his gardening in earnest when he was brought back near his boyhood home in the mid-1990s, and began cultivating an acre of land near Belen. He especially liked growing heirloom vegetable varieties, and was particularly proud of his Anasazi beans. True to form, of course, he gave most of them away — some as seeds and some made into beautiful rosaries.

Father Albert Gallegos was rising to read the gospel when he collapsed at the early morning Lenten Weekday Mass on Thursday, March 15, 2007. He was transported to the hospital, to no effect. Father Albert’s primary obituary was published in the Albuquerque Journal on Saturday, March 17, 2007. A front-page article on Father Albert and his passing was published in the Valencia County News-Bulletin that same day. A shorter article appeared in the Albuquerque Journal on Monday. There was television coverage, as well, with KOAT Channel 7 presenting features on vigil and Rosary services on the 10 p.m. news on Sunday, and on the funeral on the 5 p.m. news Monday. Father Albert was buried in the Memorial Gardens, Our Lady of Belen.

Vaya con Dios, Padre

Much of the career material used here is from the description prepared for the celebration on
May 23, 2004 of the 40th Anniversary Father Albert’s Ordination to the Priesthood.

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Last updated March 28, 2007