Fr. Paul Golden, C.M., peacefully entered his eternal rest on Saturday morning, January 20, 2024. He is survived by brothers Robert, Soham, and Michael and his sister Margaret and numerous cousins, nieces, and nephews, friends, and members of the Congregation of the Mission.
Paul Lloyd Golden was born on January 4, 1939, to Julia Lee Clemens Golden and Dr. John Henry Golden, M.D., in San Francisco, CA. One of eight children, Paul was baptized by and named in honor of family friend, Fr. Paul Lloyd, C.M., a Vincentian priest who served as a missionary to China.
After graduating from St. Emydius Elementary School in San Francisco, he was invited by his namesake, Fr. Lloyd, to visit St. Vincent’s College (a Vincentian high school seminary) in Cape Girardeau, MO, and meet the faculty there. Young Paul Golden immediately decided that he wanted to attend, and his parents gave their consent. He graduated from “The Cape” in 1956 and began studies that prepared him for priesthood, beginning at St. Mary’s of the Barrens in Perryville, MO, where he earned a B.A. in philosophy, then DeAndreis Seminary in Lemont, IL, where he earned his Master of Divinity degree.
In May of 1956, Paul entered the novitiate of the Congregation of the Mission. At the end of his senior year at The Barrens, he professed permanent vows in the Congregation. He was ordained a transitional deacon in St. Louis, MO, on September 19, 1964, by Bishop George Gottwald. At the conclusion of his theological studies, Deacon Paul was ordained to the priesthood on May 27, 1965, at St. Vincent de Paul Church in Los Angeles, CA, by Bishop John Ward.
Shortly after his ordination, Fr. Paul was sent to Rome, where he completed his JCL (Licentiate in Canon Law) at the Pontifical Gregorian University and his JCD (Juris Doctorate in Canon Law) at St. Thomas University (Angelicum).
His priestly assignments were primarily in institutes of higher learning. He was a Professor of Canon Law at Kenrick Seminary in St. Louis, MO, President/Rector of St. Thomas Theological Seminary in Denver, Associate Vice President and Vice President of DePaul University in Chicago, and president of Niagara University in New York, and taught canon law at St. Mary’s University in Minnesota. He was an instructor in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Dayton, was a consultor to the National Organization for Continuing Education of Roman Catholic Clergy, and was a frequent presenter on the topic of canon law throughout the United States.
A member of the Board of Trustees at Niagara University praised Fr. Paul’s work because he reestablished Niagara University’s prominence as a leader in the Niagara Frontier area and he introduced programs that helped boost enrollment. He also instituted the Learn and Serve Program in the curriculum at Niagara. Created in the tradition of the Vincentian Mission, this program required all students to perform community service work in order to complete their academic coursework.
Fr. Paul had a great passion for those who needed assistance navigating through canon law. In 2000, he founded Vincentian Canonical Services and served as its director until his death. He helped many priests who needed the services of a canon lawyer, especially those who did not have access to good support. He continued to do this in his private practice until just a few weeks before his death. In 2005, he received the distinguished Role of Law Award from the Canon Law Society of America, an organization for which he had served as Secretary, Vice President, and President. His acceptance speech for the award is available HERE. An additional podcast he recorded for the organization on Acting Justly, Loving Tenderly, and Walking Humbly with Our God is available HERE.
He also served the Congregation of the Mission Western Province as an advisor to the Provincial for the reconfiguration process in 2007 and remained active to the present time in aiding in the ongoing formation process for his Vincentian confreres.
As he faced the prospect of a new assignment in the middle of his career, Fr. Paul reflected on his talents and shortcomings with these words:
“I am deeply committed to the work of preparing men and women for ministry in the Church. I believe that the most important aspect of preparation for ministry today is a total commitment of the minister to Jesus as Savior.”
He acknowledged that, at times, he demanded much of himself and sometimes held others to those same high standards. However, colleagues found him to be a great mentor who was not afraid to challenge people but who was fair and respectful and expressed gratitude for everything people did. When asked for advice, he could be counted on for a direct answer, and he was always willing to help.
Fr. Paul loved his family. During his mother’s final illness, he was very grateful to be allowed to take time out from his studies in Rome to come back to California and spend time with her and his family during her final weeks.
Fr. Paul was Religious Assistant to the Sisters Adorers of the Precious Blood in Watertown, NY. Sr. Marilyn McGillan, APB, wrote to then Visitor Fr. Bill Hartenbach, C.M., saying, “It occurred to me today that Vincentians are known for your special work among God’s poor. I think you could categorize Fr. Paul’s work among the Sisters Adorers of the Precious Blood as exactly that. Ours is not a material poverty but we are ‘poor’ in many ways! Most of our Sisters entered the monasteries at a young age and therefore are not well educated in the ordinary sense of the word. Father Paul is very patient with us, and he is most generous with his assistance, whatever the need of the moment happens to be.”
Fr. Paul is remembered as a shining example of a man of the church, a man for others, and a man of service. He was a learned man and a good, wise, and gifted teacher who encouraged people to think for themselves and to put values into action. He deeply loved the Congregation of the Mission, its charism, and its mission. He lived his discipleship in an integrated manner, namely with a heart filled with love for God and God’s people and through a disciplined life of action. Fr. Paul was devoted to prayer and apostolic service.
His Vincentian confreres remember Fr. Paul as a man of deep faith, especially faith in the Resurrection of Christ. In the days shortly before his death, he reiterated his belief that he would share in Christ’s resurrection.
Former students and colleagues describe Fr. Paul as a good priest and a good Vincentian who was very kind, charming, and gracious. He continued to be involved in clergy continuing formation in the last several years at Apostle of Charity residence by assisting confreres in their participation in the Provincial Apostolic Planning process.
In April 2023, Fr. Paul was featured in the Conversations with Confreres video series from the Provincial Communications Office, available HERE.
In this video, Fr. Paul shared some fond memories of his vocation, particularly his involvement with seminarians – talking with them, serving as spiritual director, and helping them deal with obstacles and doubts. In response to the question, “What advice would you give to someone who is considering becoming a Vincentian priest or brother?”, Fr. Paul recommended that the person just take the next step. Talk to a priest or brother, a Vincentian, anyone who can help you and listen carefully to you. He compared the process of discerning a religious vocation to being on a beach at the ocean. The prospect of jumping into the ocean might be intimidating, so just put one toe in the water, then your foot, then the other foot. Keep easing into the water a little at a time and the next thing you know you are in the water. Exploring a vocation, according to Fr. Paul, is similar. Take the first step, then the next step. Eventually, you will discern whether you are called or not called. He urged everyone who has a sense that they are being called not to turn away from God’s call.
Thank you for answering God’s call and taking the first step, Fr. Paul. Well done, good and faithful servant. Now share your Master’s joy.
Services for Fr. Paul:
Tuesday January 23, 2024
7:00 p.m. (CST) – Wake/Vigil service in Mary, Mother of God Chapel in the Apostle of Charity Residence.
1701 W. St. Joseph St.
Perryville, MO 63775
Wednesday January 24, 2024
10:30 a.m. (CST) – Funeral Mass in Mary, Mother of God Chapel in Apostle of Charity Residence.
All services will be livestreamed on Facebook HERE.