July 1, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Following a 41-year career as a foundress and leader of America’s Hispanic pro-life movement, Magaly Llaguno died yesterday at a Florida hospital from complications related to cancer, a disease which she had been battling for more than a decade.
“As many knew, last year Magaly suffered a relapse of cancer that was particularly aggressive, leading to her resignation from Human Life International earlier this year so she could focus primarily on her health and treatment,” wrote Fr. Shenan Boquet in an HLI press release issued Friday.
“I was just one of many who were struck by her joy and peace even amidst great suffering during this last year,” he added. “With the various treatments and the pain she was enduring, she continued to send emails and call colleagues to keep them inspired, to translate and share important articles and documents, to stay in the fight with every ounce of energy that she had. Her love and gratitude for her family, as well as her longtime pro-life friends and colleagues was an obvious source of joy.”
Llaguno’s work as a pro-life activist began when she was a teenager in Cuba during the 1950s, when her mother decided to have an abortion. Although she had no religious beliefs or upbringing, and knew virtually nothing about abortion, she sought to persuade her mother not to go through with the deadly procedure, offering to care for the child herself.
She would later say that her reaction was the work of God’s grace within her.
After leaving Cuba with her family in 1959 and having converted to the Catholic faith in 1970, she was asked to start and lead a Hispanic pro-life organization in Florida’s Dade County, which she named the “Comité Pro Derecho a la Vida” (Pro-Life Committee), which she ran out of her home beginning in January 1972. The group evolved into an international coalition of Latin American pro-life groups, and in 1982 it became part of Human Life International at the invitation of HLI President Paul Marx.
Llaguno continued her work with HLI until a few months before her death.
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In addition to building a network of pro-life organizations throughout Latin America that helped to fight the tide of pro-abortion advocacy, Llaguno helped in founding important American pro-life groups as well, including National Right to Life. In 2011, in recognition for her service, Llaguno received the “People of Life” award from the Pro-Life Secretariat of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.
“As those of us who were closest to Magaly mourn her departure from this earth and her welcoming into her Father’s home, we remember her most salient virtues, the result of the grace of God and her ever faithful cooperation with it,” wrote long-time colleague Adolfo Castañeda. “Magaly had a holy ‘stubbornness,’ a blessed passion for life, an unstoppable drive to defend the most vulnerable among us (the unborn, the sick and the elderly), a saintly resilience, and an unquenchable perseverance in the face of the most incredible odds and obstacles.”
“Magaly was a true warrior for Christ. All of us here at American Life League will miss her more than mere words can say,” wrote Judy Brown of American Life League. “She was a great promoter of all that is good and beautiful about life, and her best asset was always her loving smile. Magaly shared her wisdom with us on many occasions and inspired us with her leadership.”