Fr. David Valtierra, CO

Posted on Aug 23, 2011

Fr. David Valtierra, CO

Father David was born on July 11, 1947 at Stockton, CA. He has two brothers and a sister. Father David joined The Oratory in 1974. He was ordained a priest by Bishop Ernest L. Unterkoefler on May 25, 1976.

He served as the Winthrop University Newman Apostolate Director and sacramental priest at St. Mary’s.

Father David directed The Oratory’s Center for Spirituality overseeing the faith formation of people who come to The Oratory for various programs on scripture and theology. He traveled to various places to conduct retreats and missions in an ongoing ministry of the teaching of the scriptures, especially the gospels, and was is in demand for his teaching of the Word of God.

Newman Prayer

May GOD support us all the day long till the shadows lengthen and the evening comes and the busy world is hushed and the fever of life is over and our work is done.

Then, in GOD’s mercy may we be granted a safe lodging and a holy rest and peace at last.

— John Henry Cardinal Newman

“My favorite story from the Bible is the passage from the last chapter of Luke’s Gospel describing the journey of the two disciples to Emmaus with Jesus. (Luke 24:13-35) . Like a classic stained glass window, Luke’s story is full of textures, colors and images. Among them I find the key connections in my journey with the Oratory since I came to Rock Hill in September, 1974.

I first met the Oratory in my high school seminary years in northern California. My confessor/spiritual director made biographies of Cardinal Newman available. The saints of the Catholic Reformation, such as Philip Neri, were part of our Church History course. Later, during philosophy studies at Catholic University, I met Oratory students and priests from the house of studies that the Rock Hill Oratory maintained in Washington, D.C. Father Hal Weidner was my classmate at Catholic University and invited me to visit Rock Hill in the summer as I discerned a call to community life.

Like the two travelers on the Emmaus road, I was moving with partial and cloudy vision. The Oratory matched my values and interests in ministries that focused on prayer and liturgy, social justice and community life. Those expectations had arisen from my family, from the B.V.M. sisters at our parish school and from nine years with the Sulpicians priests in the high school and college seminaries. An ecumenical dimension was added during my theology years at the Graduate Theological Union — a combined graduate school for ministry including six Protestant and three Catholic schools.

The Rock Hill Oratory in the mid and late 1970s was host for a variety of prayer experiences that have continued and evolved into this new millennium. Besides daily Oratory prayer, the Charismatic renewal met here and renewed study and interest in the Philippian charism led us to weekly Familiar Treatment of the Word with the Sunday lectionary readings. Clergy and Religious began coming for quiet time and retreat days. Energy for this renewal of prayer and our community identity as a “house of prayer” came from the direction of CARA and Fr. Cassian Yuhaus, C.P. The Eucharist that opened the disciples’ eyes at the Emmaus table was also the central focus of our Philippian spirituality.

I joined the Oratory that had strong social justice roots. The priests and brothers had connections with the Catholic Committee for the South, with the movement for racial equality and school integration and with efforts to organize textile workers. This shaped my assignment at St. Mary’s parish with Fr. Richard Wahl and Bro. David Boone. Justice issues also gave Gospel connection to our campus ministry at Winthrop College (now University). Peacemaking and hunger issues were central in our collaboration with Rev. Randy McSpadden at the Presbyterian Center and with Rev. Risher Brabham at the Wesley Foundation. The Sunday evening Mass at the Oratory church developed into the “Newman Liturgy.” The U.S. Bishops’ Pastoral letters on Peacemaking and on the Economy bridged the gospel mandates for compassion and justice and our local efforts to organize the York County CROP walk, write letters for Bread for the World and Amnesty International, to begin the Dorothy Day Soup Kitchen, and in later years to partner with the RAIN ministry for HIV/AIDS people and with the Interfaith Hospitality Network for homeless and poor families.

As we explore our Oratory roots and the Philippian charism, we discover the ideal of a double Oratory community. The Congregation of the Oratory with priests and brothers sharing a common life to serve the wider, inclusive Oratory movement of friends and partners in prayer and ministry. There are several communities in the Emmaus witness of Jesus’ presence. Our Rock Hill experience of the Oratory has varied and creative experiences of this shared faith — in the prayer and liturgical life, in the Center for Spirituality retreats and programs, in the parish connections throughout York County. Some connections are planned and intentional, such as the annual Newman Lecture, and others are organic and spontaneous. They all have been uplifting to me in these three decades in Rock Hill. They take me back to Emmaus. Both Philip Neri and John H. Newman celebrated a heart-centered spirituality.

The breaking of the bread led them and us to proclaim with Luke’s Gospel pilgrims, “Did not our hearts burn within us as he talked to us on the road and explained the Scriptures to us?”

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