He began his seminary studies in 1921 and was ordained on 3 July 1925 in Povoa de Varzim.
He was sent to teach in a minor seminary in Serpa where he remained for five years, taking part in the launch of the Scout movement in the region.
Fr Varzim then went to the University of Leuven where he studied political and social sciences, writing a thesis on the the Belgian Farmers' League, the Boerenbond, entitled "Le Boerenbond belge", which was published by Desclée De Brouwer in 1934.
After this stay in Serpa, he went to the University of Leuven in Belgium , which tore him new perspectives and opened wider horizons.
It was during this period that he made contact with Joseph Cardjn and the JOC, and also got to know Hergé, author of Tintin.
Back in Portugal, together with Fr Manuel Rocha, he wrote, with Father Manuel Rocha, the Statutes of the Portuguese Catholic Action (GPA), promoting specialised Catholic Action despite opposition from the Portuguese government.
From 1934, he became a radio broadcaster.
He took part in the founding of the Liga Operária Católica (Catholic Workers League) as a specialised Catholic Action movement.
In 1939, he was appointed director of the Economic and Social Secretariat of Catholic Action and he became Chaplain General to the specialised Catholic Action movements in 1948.
He suffered greatly under the Estado Novo dictatorship of Salazar.
He died in Porto on 20 August, 1964.
Anselmo Esteves Dos Anjos, O Padre Abel Varzim e o SacerdócioMinisterial no contexto da “Procissão dosPassos – Uma vivência no Bairro Alto”