Passing of Fr. John Goggin

A Message from Acting Director of Development Bill Peterson:

Father John Goggin of the Diocese of New Ulm, who served the parish of San Lucas Tolimán, Guatemala since 1968, has passed away.

Fr. John had been diagnosed with cancer several years ago and since August was under 24-hour care at the Mission Hospital in San Lucas. He was attended with love and compassion by family, parishioners, friends and hospital staff. He died peacefully on Sunday, October 22, 2023.

Fr. John came to Guatemala in 1968 and devoted his life to serving the people of San Lucas. Fr. John was quiet and self-effacing, preferring humble service to the spotlight. His parish work was focused in the communities surrounding San Lucas where he performed thousands of baptisms, confirmations, weddings and funerals. He also worked with and for Unbound (formerly CFCA), a nonprofit that creates paths out of poverty.

Fr. John was noted for his sly sense of humor and his full-throated laughter, often gently slapping the table to emphasize the hilarity of it all. He greeted everyone with a twinkle in his eye and a proffered hand. (Truth be told, it wasn’t really a firm handshake, more like an invitation to momentarily hold hands.)

He was a technological wizard, staying connected with the outside world in those early years through his ham radio and was instrumental in installing the first parabolic dish in San Lucas (in part to listen to his beloved Minnesota sports teams).

He was also noted for his fearless driving, once remarking as he drove through a coffee field, “I had no idea they finally put a road here!”

But it was in the transitional years of the Mission 2012-2015, where Fr. John really shone. Working faithfully and quietly behind the scenes and using all of his accumulated knowledge of Guatemalan culture and deep respect for the work of the Mission and the people of San Lucas, he was instrumental in navigating a settlement with the workers of the Mission and was a principal architect of the re-born Mission which so ably serves the community today.

Fr. John’s ministry in San Lucas spanned a 36-year long civil war and countless changes and challenges over 55 years. Once asked what was the most formative and important value that informed his ministry, he simply said, “To follow the gospel and treat everyone as a child of God.”

He will be dearly missed.

To join a livestream of his funeral service, click this link on Thursday, October 26th at 10:00am Central Time. Or click the same link to view a recording.

If you would like to make a gift in memory of Fr. John, please make a donation to Unbound ( or Friends of San Lucas (visit our giving page).

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