May 2011





The following remarks were made by Richard Cuneo on the 6th anniversary of  Father De Pauw’s entrance into eternal life:


As you entered the grounds of Father De Pauw’s memorial adjacent to the Chapel this morning, you each received a memorial card with a picture of Father De Pauw in his chaplain’s uniform.  On the back are the words of Our Lord which were on Father’s ordination card.





Both this picture and the inscription were chosen this year because they encapsulate what Father De Pauw’s life was all about.  Love of God, love of country, love of his vocation.


In his address at the testimonial dinner on the occasion of his 50th ordination anniversary he stated that the reason he lasted 50 years as a priest was because he never considered his priesthood as a job.  He saw it as a calling from above, truly as a vocation.


As an adolescent looking for his path in life he wrestled with the question of where he could do more good for both God and country.  Would it be as a leader in the civil field following in the footsteps of his father as a teacher or as a political leader?  Would it be in the military defending the principles which Belgium lived by, chief among them a strong Roman Catholic influence from the looming dangers of the Nazi and Communist movements?


Ultimately, he chose the path of the priesthood thanks to the spiritual influence and good example of the chaplain of a Catholic Youth Organization later Bishop of Ghent, the Most Rev. Leo Dekesel.  Quoting Father De Pauw, “he was my ideal when I was a boy and his example decided for me to enter the priesthood”.


It was Bishop Dekesel who told him “I am not going to deny that a lay person can do a lot of good but there is more in some cases about the Catholic faith a lay person will have more influence on people than a priest but the dignity of a priest is so superior and the likeness of a priest with our Divine Master and High Priest is so striking and so moving and soul stirring and so real that the priesthood is far superior to the state of lay persons.”


The lead up to World War II and the invasion of Belgium, being taken prisoner, escaping and then living with the danger of certain arrest and death if ever caught again would all be great obstacles he overcame to become a priest. However, when things looked the darkest for him it was again the words of Bishop Dekesel that gave him great inspiration that he would eventually become a priest despite all the hardships he was going through.  He told him, “your vocation is certain, the path you have taken is your path and you will eventually realize that a great providence has watched over you.  You are destined for something special.”


Having overcome so much to become a priest, he was not about to give it all up to join the ranks of Judas when the latest assault on our Church came in the 1960s.  He would not follow into heresy with blind obedience and betray the risen Christ.  He would once again face adversity, adversity which threatened his very priesthood.  But he would remain faithful to his  priestly ordination.  Following the words of the Saint whose feast we celebrate tomorrow, St. Athanasius, “if the whole world goes against the truth, than Athanasius must go against the whole world.”


In a sermon at the first Mass of a newly ordained priest in 1958 he said, “the priest stands between God and man.  One hand he places in the hands of God, the other in the hands of his people, forming a bond of connection between heaven and earth.”  He never betrayed his priestly role as mediator between God and man.  He never forgot the likeness of his calling to our Divine Master and never forgot the real reason for becoming a priest, to offer the Sacrifice of the Mass the means by which we receive all the graces and merits of the first Good Friday.  Following the words of Davy Crockett, “be sure your right, then go ahead, he set upon the course that would ultimately be a fight for the very core of our Church, the preservation of the real Mass.


He was the ideal priest but he was also the ideal citizen whether it was his native Belgium or his adopted country, the United States.  After the war was over he volunteered to drop his advanced studies at Louvain and join the newly formed and reconstituted Belgian Army as a chaplain again because he thought it would do the Church good in the eyes of the Belgian people to have Catholic priests be a part of the rebuilding of their country.  His superiors in Ghent would not give him permission because there was a shortage of priests in the parishes.  He attained the highest honor in Belgium by being received by the King.  Here in America he again volunteered to be chaplain, this time in the U.S. Army.  But once again was turned down by his superiors because they saw it was more important for him to train young priests.  He constructed the first memorial on Long Island to a fallen hero from the Vietnam War.  His book “PEACE THROUGH STRENGTH”, helped change the minds of our nations leaders both civil and military from the appeasement proposals being peddled by the American bishops on how to deal with the Soviet communists.  He gave them the correct and just moral truths of National self-defense and of course nothing was more special for him than to be received by President Reagan in the White House on numerous occasions.


While never mixing politics and religion he believed that there was no conflict between the civil laws and God’s law as long as the civil law followed God’s plan.  That plan was perfectly represented through the true Church of Jesus Christ, the Roman Catholic Church and he never hesitated to make that clear.


As we observe this 6th anniversary of his entering heaven we take note that what our world is sorely missing is the kind of priest he was, the kind of citizen he was, the kind of man he was.  Several years ago someone who had never met him, after hearing his life story said to me, the age and times that produced priests and men like Father De Pauw are long gone.


As we look back in grateful tribute for all that he did both for Church and Country, especially for all of us the remaining true followers of Jesus Christ the words of Our Lord and that of Bishop Dekesel ring ever true in minds.


The Lord indeed selected him and a GREAT PROVIDENCE indeed watched over him for he accomplished something very special.