20140516_225417_HDROn the same day, February 20, the pro-life movement lost two of its heroes, Dr. Jack Willke and Brother Paul O’Donnell.

I was honored to know both and to be close friends with Bro. Paul. The photo right is us at a wedding last year. His death at the youthful age of 55 came as a shock, but it happened peacefully during his sleep, which brings some comfort, along with knowing he now lives on in blissful happiness of which we cannot yet fathom.

You can read Bro. Paul’s obituary here.

Bro. Paul was long involved in the pro-life movement before the plight of Terri Schiavo in 2005 thrust him into the national spotlight as the Schindler family’s spokesperson.download

I met Bro. Paul sometime after that. What bonded me to him was first his engaging personality and then his strong will to protect the defenseless among us.

Bro. Paul belonged to the Franciscan Brothers of Peace, and he wore a Franciscan habit, but those who thought these may have signified a passive personality were mistaken. Bro. Paul was passionate, tough, vocal, and bold in his attempts to protect those without a voice. I loved and was inspired by those qualities about him.

Bro. Paul was also my March for Life walking buddy. It was our tradition. The last time I saw him was at the Washington, D.C., pro-life hang-out pub, The Dubliner, a month ago. I will be attending his wake and funeral in Minneapolis on Thursday and Friday. I will really miss him.

dr-willke-officialDr. Willke and his wife Barbara, who preceded him in death by almost two years, helped launch the anti-abortion movement even before abortion was legalized in 1973.  The 89-year-old retired obstetrician died at his home.

I’m grateful Dr. Willke lived to see his memoir published - just two weeks before he died. Entitled, Abortion and the Pro-Life Movement: An Inside View, it describes the history of the pro-life movement from his vantage point.

A poem by pro-life stalwart Congressman Henry Hyde concludes that “a chorus of voices that have never been heard in this world but are heard beautifully and clearly in the next world” will greet pro-lifers as they enter Heaven.

What a wonderful moment that must have been for Bro. Paul and Dr. Willke.

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