Laudetur Jesus Christus! Gelobt sei Jesus Christus!
Sia lodato Gesù Cristo! Praised be Jesus Christ!
It is with a heavy heart that I have to inform you that Fr. Valentine passed away on January 17. Father had initially gone into the hospital for a heart valve issue, but in the meantime, his kidneys went into failure, and there was little left they could do for him medically. Father was resolved to the situation and was peaceful.
I was able to speak with him at length before he effectively lost consciousness. I was able to convey to him the deep gratitude that both Old St. Mary’s and Sacred Heart had for his many years of faithful service. Each of us will very much miss Father, and we owe him the debt of our continued prayers for his soul. Please be sure to think of him often and offer a prayer for someone so generous with each of us.
The Franciscans handled Father’s funeral this past week, and he is buried at St. Mary’s Cemetary in St. Bernard. We will have a Solemn Traditional Requiem for him at Old St. Mary’s this Thursday at 6:30 p.m. with the absolution at the catafalque. A Mass will be planned for Sacred Heart in the near future as well. Please join us in praying for Fr. Valentine!
If two words can summarize Father’s life, they are generosity and obedience. Even in his ‘retirement,’ Father continued to give generously of his time to ensuring the Latin Mass was continued, the Sacraments offered, and people’s pastoral care was looked after. Like so many others, Father could have ‘retired’ into seclusion and given up public ministry. Fr. Valentine had the DNA of a truly generous priest, however, and he served and ministered until the very end. For as long as he was able to continue in public ministry, he was going to. It was during Mass at Sacred Heart on January 9 that Father had his medical episode that indicated something was wrong. What a blessing for him that the last thing he did publicly was to offer Mass for members of Christ’s faithful. This is the symbol of a truly generous priestly heart, one fashioned after Our Lord’s most Sacred Heart.
Father was also obedient until the end. Even in the turmoil of the 1970s and 1980s, Father had the rare gift to remain both faithful to the Church and obedient to the Church. So many either chose to be unfaithful to the Church or to disobey the legitimate authority of the Church. Neither of which is the sign and mark of sanctity, no matter how justified we believe our cause to be. Father Valentine is an example to each of us in our own difficult days of the needed fidelity to the Church in both her teachings and in her authority.
This does not mean that Father never suffered. I am sure he did. I am sure we will all have to suffer in some way as we also try to be faithful and obedient. But if we want the surest route to sanctity and heaven, it is by faithfulness and obedience. It is my prayer that the Lord overlooked whatever flaws Fr. Valentine may have had and welcomed him into eternal life for his generosity, faithfulness, and obedience. May this also be our prayer as we say goodbye to this faithful priest and friend.