Eugene Vigil, 62, of Dallas, Georgia, died Sept. 25.
Anyone who had the privilege of working with Eugene knew he saw his work with Priests for Life not as a job but as a mission. It was not unusual to get emails from Eugene at 11 p.m., 2 a.m., 5 a.m., sometimes in the same 24-hour period. Eugene was the right-hand man to Priests for Life Pastoral Associate Alveda King, a job that required not just his right hand but full-on ambidexterity.
Eugene began work at Priests for Life in 2010 but his journey here started with a text four years earlier.
In 2006, he began to volunteer at a pregnancy help center in Atlanta and then was hired as its office manager. The building had an unused office and the center’s founder invited Alveda to use it for her work for her personal ministry. That’s where Eugene first met her and because she didn’t have an assistant, he volunteered to help her manage her busy schedule.
In 2009 Eugene moved to Virginia Beach with his job with Norfolk Southern. On Mother’s Day 2010 he texted Alveda good wishes and she replied that Priests for Life was going to hire an assistant for her and urged him to apply. The rest is history.
Eugene was born in Morelia, Michoacán in Mexico’s Distrito Federal, moved with his family to Houston when he was 8 years old and then to Atlanta two years later. He considered Georgia as the place he grew up.
Eugene was already familiar with the ministry of Priests for Life before he sent that fateful text to Alveda. His father told him about Priests for Life shortly after Frank Pavone took over as National Director in 1993.
“All who knew Eugene saw a man of deep faith, who understood that faith leads to action. He took that action in the pro-life arena and we were blessed to have him do so as part of the Priests for Life team,” Fr. Frank said.
Eugene once described how meaningful the mission of Priests for Life was to him.
“I had a conversion in 1999 and God instilled in me a love of souls. Also, back in the late 70s and early 80s I had gotten a girl pregnant twice and we had abortions both times. I guess in a way I’m doing penance for my own sins of abortion.”
Eugene worked from a home office in Georgia but he had lots of interaction with the in-office and other off-location staff. He was able to visit Priests for Life headquarters over the summer, bringing with him his daughter Alicia and granddaughters Kayla and McKenzie. It was a blessing for new staffers to be able to meet him and for the rest of the staff and Pastoral Team to reconnect in person. With Ms. King’s recent retirement from full-time employment, Eugene was in discussion with the Priests for Life administration about moving to Florida to begin work as the outreach associate at headquarters.
“I am so grateful and blessed to have been able to work alongside Eugene Vigil. He was such a kind and gentle-spirited man,” said Priests for Life Executive Director Janet Morana. Eugene was so much more than an employee; he was a dear friend. Eugene worked endlessly to bring an end to abortion. He especially saw the horror of what abortion was doing to the Hispanic and Black communities, which motivated him to do all he could to end this horrible injustice to humanity. I will miss Eugene’s sweet, compassionate heart at Priests for Life. The pro-life movement has lost a true warrior.
Anyone who knew Eugene would agree that he was a pure soul. His Catholic faith was deep and his trust in God was complete.
Eugene and his late wife took in foster children, once opening their home to four siblings and three other children at the same time. Eugene remembered that time as one of the most fun experiences of his life. They adopted two children, Alicia and Isaiah.
“Eugene was a true man of God with a sweet and kind soul,” said Priests for Life Executive Manager Theresa Watson. “Our Priests for Life family was blessed each day with Eugene’s infectious smile. He was such a joy to work with and was always willing to go the extra mile for his co-workers. His pleasant sense of humor always lightened the day. I was blessed to be able to call Eugene my friend, co-worker and Brother in Christ. Eugene will be greatly missed by all who were blessed to have known him.”
Evangelist Alveda King commented, "words alone cannot express the many years with Eugene as my friend. The world is a better place because GOD allowed us to know and love Eugene."
"Good people pass away; the godly often die before their time. But no one seems to care or wonder why. No one seems to understand that God is protecting them from the evil to come." Isaiah 57:1 NLT
Arrangements for a funeral service are pending.