Monday March 22, 2010

Friends of Fr. Paul Marx Reflect on the Life of the Pro-Life Giant

By James Tillman

March 22, 2010 ( — Father Paul Marx, OSB, dubbed the “Apostle of Life” by John Paul II, left this world last Saturday shortly after 8:00 AM. But according to numerous leaders, the pro-life movements across the world remain as monuments to his gigantic labors on behalf of the smallest and most vulnerable.

“I believe I can safely say that there are practically no pro-life groups in the world today that did not receive information, help, encouragement and/or guidance from Father Paul,” said Magaly Llaguno, executive director of Vida Humana Internacional (VHI), the Hispanic Division of Human Life International (HLI), where Marx served as president until his retirement until 1999.

Both VHI and HLI were founded by Fr. Marx, as well as the Population Research Institute (PRI).

“He was and will always be, ‘the father’ of both the national and the international pro-life movements,” she continued. “Whenever a book is written about the birth of the pro-life movement, Father Paul’s name will always be prominent.”

Fr. Marx was a trailblazer in the pro-life movement; he founded the Human Life Center in 1971, two years before Roe v. Wade. In the same year he published The Death Peddlers: War on the Unborn, the first of over one dozen books.

Fr. Thomas Euteneuer, current head of HLI, called him the Johnny Appleseed of the pro-life movement. “Because of Fr. Paul Marx, the world has a pro-life movement. He travelled 3 million miles to over 90 countries,” said Euteneuer.

“When the fight for life is finally won,” he continued, “people will look back at this dark age of destruction and wonder who opposed the onslaught. Standing among the greatest champions for life will be Fr. Marx, not only for his own work, but for the work done by the countless other pro-life warriors he inspired.”

“I owe a lot to Father Marx,” Stephen Mosher, President of PRI, told LifeSiteNews (LSN). He recounted how, after he discovered the forced sterilizations and abortions in China, Father Marx invited him to a pro-life conference that started him on the road to Catholicism.

“I owe him my conversion, so he’s my spiritual father,” he said. “I owe him my vocation, because he was the instrument God used to call me to full time pro-life work. I owe him my apostolate because he founded the Population Research Institute and asked me to come and head it.

“He was a fearless defender of the truth about life and family.”

According to Fr. Frank Pavone, executive director of Priests for Life, Fr. Marx was “a priest who was not afraid to be a prophet.”

In addition, friends say Fr. Marx could perform a legendary amount of work.

“He undertook countless initiatives,” said Fr. Pavone, “made seemingly endless trips, gave innumerable talks, wrote a warehouse of articles and books, and inspired countless people in the effort to build a Culture of Life.”

“He rarely slept,” said Mosher. “He would work until 2 or 3 AM. Then he would sleep . . . get up at 7 AM, have his prayers, [and] have breakfast.

“He never received a letter that he didn’t answer, and he never received a phone call that he didn’t return.”

The motto of the Benedictine order is “Ora et Labora,” which means “Pray and Work”; friends would joke that Fr. Marx’s motto was “Ora et Labora et Labora et Labora.”

Joe Scheidler, president of the Pro-Life Action league, recounts how on trip back from South Africa, “as lights on the plane went off while everyone else was sleeping, only one light stayed on all night—the light over Fr. Marx’s seat where he was writing and reading, ever diligent in his research on life issues.”

“Even [when] he was retired,” said Llaguno, “he called me periodically and was greatly encouraged when I told him about the work we are doing in Latin American countries, where he had already planted the seeds for the pro-life/family work that is being done today.”

Fr. Marx’s death was worthy of one who had worked so long for the unborn: he had been fading in and out of consciousness early Saturday morning, and had been incoherent when he spoke at all, according to Mosher, until his last moment.

“Suddenly he raised his arms up to heaven,” Mosher said, “and said in a loud, clear voice, ‘Take me home.’

“So I believe he had a heavenly escort.”

The wake service for Fr. Marx will take place on Thursday night, the Feast of the Annunciation, at 7 p.m. at St. John’s Benedictine Abbey in Collegeville, Minnesota. The funeral will follow on Friday at 3:30 p.m. at the same location.

Judie Brown of American Life League said Marx “left a legacy that time, confusion and dissent from truth can never erase.”

“The pro-life movement is alive and well today,” said Brown, “because we are standing on the shoulders of a giant – Father Paul Marx.”