Fr. Alfar Antonio Vélez is grateful that his mother refused an abortion.
“My mother’s greatest pride was having defended life,” Father Alfar Antonio Vélez recounts. Originally from Colombia, Fr. Vélez is now a missionary priest who serves as pastor for two parishes in Argentina. He decided to go public with his personal testimony to Valores Religiosos, an Argentinian Catholic news outlet, in 2012 in reaction to legislation permitting abortion in various Latin American countries.
“My mother was a woman of great faith, very faithful and very holy. She used to say that, despite the terrible circumstances, she was carrying in her womb the miracle of a new life, a life which God had given her and which, because of her convictions, she could not abort. She said that if God had given it to her, she had to discover the reason.”
Fr. Vélez’s mother was raped at the age of 27 by a group of work colleagues after they drugged her during a party. To cover up the pregnancy, her family forced her to marry a widower, who later became abusive. She had a child with him as well, and was forced to stay with him for years, but to protect Antonio she sent him to live with his grandmother.
Fr. Vélez continues the story:
“My mother told me what had happened. She said that many people wanted her to have an abortion. Others suggested that she should sell me or give me up for adoption. She said some people were interested in taking me in … For me, [discovering all of this] was very hard. I was just 10 years old.”
One day, young Alfar Antonio Vélez confronted God about the situation.
“I went to a church to complain to God, to ask him why this had happened to me. Since I was shouting at God, a priest came up to me and told me that I was asking the wrong question: ‘Don’t ask why, but rather, to what end,’ he said. He said that precisely because of my situation, God was calling me to do great things.”
The priest told Alfar Antonio that God writes straight with crooked lines, and that he could be an instrument of the Lord. Then, he read to Alfar Antonio the passage from the book of Jeremiah in which God calls him and he resists, so the Lord tells him, “Don’t worry, I will do everything for you.” Fr. Vélez remembers how “that conversation marked me deeply. That priest ended up being like a father to me.”
Alfar Antonio eventually became a catechist, and after a while, a seminarian. Today, that boy who was conceived in a violent and terrible act is a happy priest who defends life.