I just learned that a friend of mine passed away last month, July 17, 2013, to be exact. I met Victor Valdez when I was doing a speaking engagement in San Francisco in 2008. Victor suffered from recurring brain tumors his entire life yet he dedicated himself tirelessly to the catechetical ministry. On that visit in 2008, he gave up an entire evening to show me around San Francisco since it was my first trip there.
We crossed the Golden Gate Bridge, drove around San Francisco, had dinner, and stopped at the Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Assumption, where we were just in time to join in the Liturgy of the Eucharist at the Saturday vigil Mass. On our way to the Cathedral, Victor told me about the shrine at the Cathedral to Our Lady of Guadalupe…a shrine that was very special to him. Years earlier, after receiving the traumatic news of the discovery of a brain tumor, Victor prayed at this shrine where these words, spoken by Mary to Juan Diego, are inscribed:
“Listen, my son, to what I tell you now: do not be troubled nor disturbed by anything; do not fear illness nor any other distressing occurrence, nor pain. Am I not your mother? Am I not life and health? Have I not placed you on my lap and made you my responsibility? Do you need anything else?”
After Mass, Victor showed me around the Cathedral and then we went over to the Guadalupe shrine to pray. Here is a picture of Victor praying before his very special lady.
Over the years, we kept in touch, long-distance, and, at least a couple of times we got a chance to meet and chat at either the NCCL conference or the L.A. Religious Education conference. Victor was a contributor to my blog, sharing some very creative ideas such as his “My Lenten Calendar” which I feature every year as part of my 40 Ideas for 40 Days of Lent feature; his “Passport to the Holy Land” activity for Holy Week; and his suggestion for using Skype technology for religious education.
Occasionally, I would get an email from Victor asking for prayers as he faced yet another surgery. Unfortunately, I did not hear from Victor for well over a year until I saw the notice of his death and this accompanying story.
Rest in peace, Victor! You are no longer troubled or disturbed by the pain and distress you endured in this life for you are now in the arms of your special lady, Our Lady of Guadalupe. Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him. Amen.