Dr. Robert Walley, left, founder of MaterCare International, meets Pope John Paul II. Photo courtesy of MaterCare International

Dr. Walley dedicated life to maternal care

By 
  • July 3, 2020

OTTAWA -- Friends and colleagues are mourning the death of Dr. Robert Walley, a Catholic doctor who committed his life to helping save the lives of mothers and babies in the developing world.

Dr. Walley died June 22 at age 81 in Newfoundland.

“He was a very down-to-earth guy,” said Matthew Wojciechowski, vice-president of Campaign Life Coalition, who got to know Dr. Walley in 2016 during the United Nations 60th Commission on the Status of Women. “You could tell that he had seen and experienced a lot, but he was very easy to talk to.”

It was Dr. Walley’s dedication to the pro-life cause and to his Catholic faith that was one of the defining features of his life’s work which included founding MaterCare International, which provides safe motherhood for women in developing countries, particularly in Africa.

“Dr. Walley was a pro-life champion and doctor who lived his Catholic faith in word and deed. He left a great impact on me when we worked together on maternal health care at the United Nations,” Wojciechowski said.

“He never compromised on his Catholic principles and values.”

That dedication is one of the reasons the Canadian Catholic Rights League (CCRL) awarded Dr. Walley its most prestigious honour in 2017, the Archbishop Adam Exner Award for Catholic Excellence in Public Life.

In a statement released after his death, the CCRL called on Canadian Catholics to continue to “pray for his wife of 54 years Susan Mary, who has been living in a long-term care facility” and praised Dr. Walley’s life’s work.

“Through his work in Africa’s developing nations, Dr. Walley has saved the lives of thousands of mothers and their babies from the tragic implications of obstetric fistula, an avoidable condition exacerbated in Africa by the lack of quality maternal health care present in developed nations,” the CCRL said. “This work continues through MaterCare International, which he founded.”

Dr. Walley, who emigrated to Canada from England in 1973, established MaterCare International in 1995 with its stated goal “to carry out the work of Evangelium Vitae (the Gospel of Life) by improving the lives and health of mothers and babies.”

In 2017, Dr. Walley, who had a Master of International Public Health from Harvard University and was an Emeritus Professor at Memorial University, was presented with the Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice (The Cross of Honour), a papal honour for distinguished service to the Church.

A private funeral was held at St. Pius X Church in St. John’s, Nfld., on June 27.

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