Victor Valdez ’84, M.A. ’94 51, lay ecclesial minister and long-time catechetical leader who achieved Master Catechist status last year, died on July 17, 2013. He had suffered for many years from the effects of recurring brain tumors.
Wendy Scherbart, Director of Catechetical Ministry for the Diocese of San Jose, said, “Over the 30 years I have known Victor, he has shown me how to put my trust in God. He lived with integrity and hope while carrying recurring health challenges.
“Victor chose to discern the will of God each day. He strived to do the will of God and now is fully united with God. I thank him for inspiring us with his courage and deep faith.”
Scherbart said that Victor had just made his second trip to Lourdes in May with the Knights of Malta and that he was seeking peace. “He told me that the day he went to the baths he didn’t want to hurry, but to be fully present to the experience.
“As he stepped through the waters, he felt sensations, the temperature, the placement of each foot, and he emerged feeling a deep peace,” Scherbart said.
At Valdez’s funeral Mass, July 24, at Santa Teresa Church, San Jose, Father Jose Antonio Rubio M.A. ’95, STD ’06 gave the homily, noting the Gospel reading, John 6: 37-40, “If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.”
Father Rubio said Victor “had recurring benign brain tumors and had 12 surgeries — some 13 hours — until they couldn’t operate anymore. He had the tumors for more than half his life, but he did a lot in a life.
“Even as a boy Victor carried his cross. When he was born, an ear was partially developed and he endured a number of surgeries. When he was in grammar school, he was hit by a car, broke his hip and was in a cast for six months.”
“Victor had a strong faith,” Father Rubio said. “From his Mexican heritage he had great faith in Our Lady of Guadalupe, and he got strength from the writings and spiritual exercises of St. Ignatius Loyola. After he was diagnosed with the tumors, he dedicated his life to God, working for the Church. He always paid attention to how God was working in his life.”
Valdez worked at St. John Vianney, St. Athanasius, St. Denis (Menlo Park) as Director of Religious Education, at the University of Santa Clara as a resident minister in the dorms and with the alumni association. He planned retreats, gave talks and workshops at faith formation conferences in San Francisco, Santa Clara and Ariz.
Father Rubio said, “Victor carried his cross behind Jesus, but he carried his cross like Jesus. The cross of Jesus changed the universe and lead to resurrection, his resurrection, Victor’s resurrection, our resurrection.
“Victor saw life as a pilgrimage. He liked to travel and went to Lourdes twice, to Fatima, and to Madrid for World Youth Day in 2011. He had
been looking forward to WYD Brazil this year.
“When he returned from Madrid he wrote an article for The Valley Catholic recalling standing in rain all night and sleeping on cement. He quoted the very text that was tonight’s Gospel reading, and he concluded: If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.”
Victor wrote, “I know the call of Jesus calls for total commitment requiring great sacrifice. What we experienced at World Youth Day was an opportunity to trust in the Lord who never abandons us. In an exhibit along a Madrid parkway, we saw life-size reproductions of the Stations of the Cross. It is through the cross that we are led to freedom.”
“Free at last, Victor, free at last!” Father Rubio concluded.