Lambert F. Valentine, OFM
1913 – 2011
Fr. Lambert Valentine, OFM, was born on Aug. 9, 1913 in Newark, N.J., and baptized Enrico Antonio. He was educated in Newark public schools, but left high school to work at an electric company. Soon after, he discerned a call to the priesthood and entered St. Joseph Seraphic Seminary in Callicoon, N.Y., in 1931, where he became known as “Hank.”
He was received into the Order in 1937 at St. Bonaventure Friary in Paterson, N.J., and given the religious name of Lambert. He had requested “Lambert” because of his friendship with a Franciscan by that name from another community. Fr. Lambert professed temporary vows one year later, made his solemn profession in 1941 and was ordained in 1943.
After spending a year at Holy Name College, Fr. Lambert was assigned to St. Francis of Assisi Parish in New York City. He spent the next 59 years there — his entire active priestly ministry — in one of the longest continuous assignments in the history of the Province. His administrative capabilities were recognized early on. While ministering as parochial vicar at St. Francis in 1944, he was also named assistant procurator. The following year, he was appointed procurator for the friary and church, a post he held for the next 25 years.
In 1959, Fr. Lambert was asked to serve as director of the Franciscan Family Circle Pilgrimage Office, a capacity he served in until 1978. He returned to ministering on the parish’s pastoral staff on a part-time basis, hearing confessions and celebrating Mass. He also served for some years as chaplain to the Maritime Union of New York. In 2003, he retired to St. Anthony Friary in Butler, N.J., moving to Holy Name Friary, Ringwood, N.J., in 2009.
Throughout his ministry, he made many business and professional contacts who often remained his friends for life. A patient friar, he enlivened many a community gathering with his skill at the piano. He saw himself as one blessed by God and worked tirelessly to share those blessings with others.
He died on Oct. 29, 2011 at Holy Name Friary. Fr. Lambert was 98 years old, a professed friar for 73 years and a priest for 68 years. At the time of his death, he was the eldest member of the Province.