By Steve Jalsevac
CUMBERLAND, Ontario, February 25, 2008 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Fr. Jim Whalen, The National Director of Priests for Life, Canada suffered a massive heart attack Sunday morning while conducting a Pro-Life Mission at Most Holy Rosary Parish in Thorold, Ontario (Near Niagara Falls). Fr. Whalen had just finished preaching at an early morning mass and collapsed in the Church sacristy. The 68-year old gravely ill priest was taken to St. Catherine’s General Hospital where he died at 9:45 a.m.
Priests for Life Operations Manager Michael Vande Wiel told LifeSiteNews that Fr. Whalen had been feeling very tired for the past few weeks but there was no awareness of a heart condition and Fr. Whalen was not under any medications. The Priests for Life leader was too tired to celebrate the 7:15 a.m. mass and restricted himself to giving the homily, after which he sat down in the sacristy and then collapsed and was taken to hospital.
Fr. Frank Pavone, National Director of Priests for Life in the United States commented on the loss of Fr. Whalen. “All who are building the Culture of Life have lost a great leader and friend in Fr. Jim Whalen,” said Fr. Pavone. “Fr. Jim understood that contraception, abortion, and euthanasia are enemies of the human family, and he fought these evils with truth and compassion. Fr. Whalen played a key role in starting the international growth of Priests for Life. We look forward to continuing to work with our Canadian brothers and sisters.”
Fr. Jim, a priest of the Archdiocese of Ottawa since 1972, in addition to being pastor of St. Margaret-Mary Parish in Cumberland ON (near Ottawa), has been the founding National Director of Priests for Life Canada since the fall of 1996. Priests for Life Canada is an organization of Catholic lay people and clergy dedicated to supporting Canadian Catholic clergy and laity in the Sanctity of Life cause.
Prior to becoming a priest, Father Jim taught at all levels in the Ottawa Separate School system. In addition to being bilingual, he was serving as the spiritual director of The Senatus, the Governing Body of the Legion of Mary, Northern Ontario. He also spent thirty years as Chaplain for Native Peoples of Ottawa and was one of the founders of Odawa Native Friendship Center. Further involvement included his work assisting the Ottawa area Catholic Home Schooler’s Association as Spiritual Advisor and he taught Religious Science for two years at Ottawa University.
In the summer of 1996, Fr. Jim was asked by a group of people in the Diocese of Pembroke to take on the role of National Director for a newly created organization called Priests for Life Canada. Without hesitation, Fr. Jim accepted. When asked why he was so open to taking on this challenge, Fr. Jim answered “As a priest, we cannot ‘not be involved’. We must use all the forces available to us to attack the problems of contraception, abortion, and euthanasia”.
Surviving immediate family are his three sisters: Isabelle Patry, Montreal QC, Joanne Taylor, North Bay ON, and Patricia Whalen, North Bay ON.
Further details re: funeral services, etc. (to be held in Orleans, ON) will be provided as soon as they are available and can be obtained by calling1-888-300-2007 (Canada and the United States).
See Priests for Life Canada website