Father Val | TheFencePost.com

Father Val

Peggy Malone
Fruita, Colo.

Peggy MaloneFather Val

What’s in a name? Well, with Valentine’s Day being celebrated on Feb. 14, it seems the right time to tell a short story about a priest, who is small in stature, but big of heart. His name just happens to be Father Val (Short for his first name ‘Valentine’)

Born in Pittsburg, Pa., and one of eight children, he had the ‘calling’ to become a priest at an early age. The decision was made when he was in the 8th grade, which he said “Was customary in those days,” and added “I never wavered.” He did his High School years in the Seminary. The final four years of his seminary training were spent in Washington DC, where he was ordained a Carmelite priest in 1946.

He went on to serve five years in Chicago, eight years in Joliet, Ill., 15 years in Levenworth, Kan., and 35 yearrs in the Phoenix, Ariz., area.

I first met Father Val when he was pastor of the Good Shepherd Catholic Church in Phoenix/New River area. It had been a hard move to Arizona for me in 1998, and meeting this kind man, helped bring a comfort to my soul. When we finally moved back to Colorado in 2000, we kept in touch. Returning for some singing engagements in Arizona, I always try to stop by and visit with him.

On one of my first visits back to Arizona in 2001 we put on a benefit for the Nuns who tend to the poor of Phoenix. They are called Missionaries of Charity. Founded by Mother Theresa, who believed in ‘living amongst the poor’ to feel what they feel. It was a very rewarding experience to be there for one of Father Val’s beloved causes.

After retiring as Pastor of the Good Shepherd Church July 1, 2003, and no wish to sit idle, he started volunteering at the four surrounding Indian Reservations. The Salt River Reservation, Gila River Reservation, Ak-Chin Reservation and the San Lucy Reservation. 

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The furthest Reservation that he travels to is the San Lucy Reservation, which is located on the west side of Gila Bend, Az. When I commented on him doing a ’round trip’ of 150 miles all in one day, he immediately jumped in and said, “Hey … I’m not traveling horseback, you know … I drive a car!” But, you see, we are talking about a man who will be 90 years old in June! So, driving that distance, alone, kinda got my attention!

On the reservations he leads them in Mass, and does Funerals, and Marriage Ceremonies. He commented on how their Marriage Ceremonies are quite moving, and much less formal than what we are use to. Sometimes there are as many as three couples married at the same time. But, what really touches him, is how they combine some of their Native Customs as part of the service. Keeping alive their treasured traditions. At the end of the Marriage Ceremony, the Tribal Holyman in his Native American garb offers a blessing.

I asked Father Val what impresses him most about the people of the reservations. He answers, “They are a very gentle and grateful people.” “They have alot of hurt, but they are not vengeful people.”

What do they need most, I ask? “They need acceptance, and recognition.”

“Also, Job opportunities.”

I wind up our conversation by asking how much longer does he feel he can continue this kind of service, and he says … About six more months … cuz … by then I’ll be in my 90th year, and need to slow down.” 

 Well, if anyone deserves to slow down a bit, It’s Father Val. He has given his whole life to helping others. A true gentle soul, who could have retired years ago, but chose to continue bringing ‘Hope’ and ‘Love’ to folks.

So, on this month of February when you celebrate Valentine’s Day, may this story come to mind of Father Val, who spreads ‘love’ all through the year. He surely does warm the hearts of many.

What’s in a name? Well, with Valentine’s Day being celebrated on Feb. 14, it seems the right time to tell a short story about a priest, who is small in stature, but big of heart. His name just happens to be Father Val (Short for his first name ‘Valentine’)

Born in Pittsburg, Pa., and one of eight children, he had the ‘calling’ to become a priest at an early age. The decision was made when he was in the 8th grade, which he said “Was customary in those days,” and added “I never wavered.” He did his High School years in the Seminary. The final four years of his seminary training were spent in Washington DC, where he was ordained a Carmelite priest in 1946.

He went on to serve five years in Chicago, eight years in Joliet, Ill., 15 years in Levenworth, Kan., and 35 yearrs in the Phoenix, Ariz., area.

I first met Father Val when he was pastor of the Good Shepherd Catholic Church in Phoenix/New River area. It had been a hard move to Arizona for me in 1998, and meeting this kind man, helped bring a comfort to my soul. When we finally moved back to Colorado in 2000, we kept in touch. Returning for some singing engagements in Arizona, I always try to stop by and visit with him.

On one of my first visits back to Arizona in 2001 we put on a benefit for the Nuns who tend to the poor of Phoenix. They are called Missionaries of Charity. Founded by Mother Theresa, who believed in ‘living amongst the poor’ to feel what they feel. It was a very rewarding experience to be there for one of Father Val’s beloved causes.

After retiring as Pastor of the Good Shepherd Church July 1, 2003, and no wish to sit idle, he started volunteering at the four surrounding Indian Reservations. The Salt River Reservation, Gila River Reservation, Ak-Chin Reservation and the San Lucy Reservation. 

The furthest Reservation that he travels to is the San Lucy Reservation, which is located on the west side of Gila Bend, Az. When I commented on him doing a ’round trip’ of 150 miles all in one day, he immediately jumped in and said, “Hey … I’m not traveling horseback, you know … I drive a car!” But, you see, we are talking about a man who will be 90 years old in June! So, driving that distance, alone, kinda got my attention!

On the reservations he leads them in Mass, and does Funerals, and Marriage Ceremonies. He commented on how their Marriage Ceremonies are quite moving, and much less formal than what we are use to. Sometimes there are as many as three couples married at the same time. But, what really touches him, is how they combine some of their Native Customs as part of the service. Keeping alive their treasured traditions. At the end of the Marriage Ceremony, the Tribal Holyman in his Native American garb offers a blessing.

I asked Father Val what impresses him most about the people of the reservations. He answers, “They are a very gentle and grateful people.” “They have alot of hurt, but they are not vengeful people.”

What do they need most, I ask? “They need acceptance, and recognition.”

“Also, Job opportunities.”

I wind up our conversation by asking how much longer does he feel he can continue this kind of service, and he says … About six more months … cuz … by then I’ll be in my 90th year, and need to slow down.” 

 Well, if anyone deserves to slow down a bit, It’s Father Val. He has given his whole life to helping others. A true gentle soul, who could have retired years ago, but chose to continue bringing ‘Hope’ and ‘Love’ to folks.

So, on this month of February when you celebrate Valentine’s Day, may this story come to mind of Father Val, who spreads ‘love’ all through the year. He surely does warm the hearts of many.