Valentine Long, OFM
1902 – 1998
Fr. Valentine Long, OFM, was born on Oct. 28, 1902 in Cumberland, Md. After graduating from the parish elementary school, he and lifelong friend Bob (later Fr. Claude) Kean, OFM, were accepted at St. Fidelis Seminary in Herman, Pa., as candidates for the Capuchin Order. After graduating from there, they transferred to the Friars Minor and were received into the novitiate at St. Bonaventure Friary, Paterson, N.J., in 1921. Fr. Valentine professed temporary vows in 1922, made his solemn profession in 1925 and was ordained with Fr. Claude in 1927.
While doing his theological studies at St. Bonaventure College, Allegany, N.Y., in 1926, Fr. Valentine also earned a master’s degree in English literature. Throughout 11 varied assignments. Fr. Valentine’s writing — which he liked to do standing up, like an ancient scribe — was always coupled with additional priestly duties. Beginning in 1928, he taught at St. Joseph’s Seraphic Seminary, Callicoon, N.Y., for one year; at Aquinas Institute in Rochester, N.Y., for one year; and at St. Bonaventure College for a decade.
A change of pace came when he was assigned to St. Stephen of Hungary Parish in New York City for four years. The next 12 years were spent teaching at Siena College, Loudonville, N.Y. Fr. Valentine served as a Provincial Councilor, then as guardian for six years and a teacher for seven years at the novitiate in Lafayette, N.J. He served as chaplain and teacher for the Franciscan Sisters of the Poor at the Warwick, N.Y., motherhouse for eight years. In 1973, he officially retired and in 1990, he transferred to Holy Name Friary, Ringwood, N.J.
Fr. Valentine’s Franciscan vision was expressed in 10 published books and unnumbered pamphlets and magazine articles, classroom notes, letters, homilies, retreat conferences and radio addresses. His faith in Christ and Mary, the angels and saints, the Church, the priesthood and his share in it, were all captured in a classical Newmanesque style that earned the favorable notice of even the great writer and theologian G.K. Chesterton. At 95 years old, Fr. Valentine was a celebrated author, inspiring teacher, rabid fan of the Pittsburgh Pirates and the most senior priest of Holy Name Province at the time of his death.
He died on Jan. 6, 1998 in the Ringwood friary. Fr. Valentine was a professed friar for 75 years and a priest for 70 years.