On Dec. 11 at Campaign Life Coalition office, CLC volunteers, supporters, and friends attended a Mass in celebration and thanksgiving of Fr. Alphonse de Valk’s 50th year of his priesthood. The event appropriately took place on the same day when the Church liturgically celebrates the feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe. She is the patroness of human life and what Fr. de Valk has indefatigably and loyally defended throughout his priesthood.
Fr. de Valk joined the Congregation of Saint Basil in 1965. He was an editor of The Interim and later founder and editor of Catholic Insight. As well, he co-founded the Catholic Civil Rights League and the Family Coalition Party. He was born in 1932 and ordained on Dec. 11, 1965. It was at this time that Vatican II came to a close and ushered in many changes in the Church. There were many priests that left their vocation. However, he said that his decision to become a shepherd has been the best decision of his life. When he officially retired he put it this way: “Being a priest is a tremendous vocation. It allows you to do so many things for people but always to live on the highest possible level of ideals. It certainly means serving the Lord in the world and for me the intellectual apostolate of teaching, growing in study and doing the will of God. To be a priest is to preside at the liturgy, to teach the faith and to do everything that Christ did as a Priest.”
In 1969 the Omnibus Bill (a law with many components thus making it more difficult for MPs to vote against sections of it) was passed in Canada and it changed the criminal code. For the first time it legalized, among other things, abortion, gambling, and contraceptives. Fr. de Valk decided then that the dignity of human life, from conception to natural death, what the Church teaches needed to be defended. Catholics could no longer take this for granted in a secular and politically correct climate. He began his long battle to advocate and try to build a culture of life in Canada through his priestly life, by being a witness for life and writing countless articles, essays, and books on the subject.
This how he described his vocation: “As a historian, my entrance into the pro-life movement came from a realization that an er-ror in principle in a grave matter of life and death either has to be reversed or it will destroy society. Anti-Semitism in Germany be-tween 1918 and 1939 should have been redressed because the Nazis made use of it and it destroyed Germany. Likewise, legalized abortion will destroy Western socie-ties unless we redress it.”
Fr. de Valk has recognized the evil of abortion in Canada and the world. In response, he has not been afraid to speak out against this anti-Christian culture and pro-death view. But not only has he strongly spoken out over the years against abortion and any other attack on Church teaching, he has also put his faith into action. He has stood in front of the Morgentaler abortuary praying and on one occasion he was arrested. He spent time in jail. In 1979, Fr. de Valk wrote a pamphlet describing the 1969 Omnibus Bill that legalized abortion as “the worst law ever.”
Fr. de Valk’s book on the subject of abortion, morality, and politics was published in 1974: It’s titled, Morality and Law in Canadian Politics: The Abortion Controversy and should be required reading in all Catholic schools and in our church communities. If you want know how Canada legalized the evil of abortion this is the definitive book. It’s the best historical account to better understand, to prepare, and to fight the pro-life battle. The book explains why Canadian taxpayers today are forced to fund all abortions. The killing of unborn babies has become “reproductive health care,” and it started with the same kind of deceptive words, “therapeutic abortion.” As if we can honestly call state-sanctioned killing of the unborn either “health care” or some sort of “therapy.” It’s an evil lie.
In the brief homily that he gave, Fr. de Valk mentioned a number of turning points in his life. The most important, and as he tried to say this he had to stop himself from shedding a tear or two, was his decision to become a priest, to answer God’s call to serve Him and His people. He was also grateful that God has allowed him to use his priesthood to fight for a Catholic culture, for Catholic education, and for the pro-life cause in Canada. In addition, he’s thankful for his work with the Marian Movement of Priests. And he encouraged everyone present at the Mass to pray daily and especially to pray the Rosary.
Fr. de Valk. a Basilian priest that like the late Fr. Ted Colleton, a Spiritan, can truly be called a pro-life warrior making no compromise with the truth.
Faithful priests like Fr. de Valk are truly a gift from God. Fr. de Valk shows no signs of giving up his call to serve as priest, scholar, thinker, witness to the Gospel, and, in particular, to defend the innocent unborn babies. Congratulations Fr. de Valk and thank you for all the work you have done for the people of God. May God continue to bless your vocation and give you may more years of good health so that you carry on giving Him thanks, praise and glory.
A version of this article originally appeared on Lou Iacobelli’s blog “Everyday for Life” on Dec. 16 and is used with permission.