Remembering Joe Scheidler, “Godfather” of the Pro-Life Movement

The pro-life movement has lost one of its original warriors and one of the most dedicated and effective pro-life leaders in the history of the pro-life movement.

Joe Scheidler, the founder of Chicago’s Pro-Life Action League, was an indefatigable fighter for human life and a stellar example of a Catholic husband and father. He was known as “The Godfather of the Pro-Life Movement” for his nearly half-century of full-time activism in defense of human life, and because he literally wrote the book on pro-life activism, “CLOSED: 99 Ways to Stop Abortion.”

Human Life International’s founder, Fr. Paul Marx, O.S.B., and Joe first met in 1973. They became close friends and colleagues, participating in several international missions together. Joe credited Fr. Marx with spurring him on to full time pro-life activism and for being his pro-life mentor.

Joe Scheidler (right) with Fr. Paul Marx, O.S.B. 1997

While Joe has worked tirelessly for unity in the pro-life movement, he stood for truth and did not compromise his core beliefs, regardless of the consequences. As with his longtime friend, Fr. Marx, Joe was one of the few pro-life leaders who boldly and unapologetically spoke about the link between contraception and abortion.

Joe was truly a role model for all those involved in building a culture of life. Although he has gone from our sight, he has left a wondrous legacy, his wife Ann, his son Eric and all of his other children and grandchildren to carry on the fight, along with thousands of other pro-lifers he brought into our movement.

On the occasion of Joe’s passing from this world, I am reminded of the late Congressman Henry Hyde’s well-known quote:

When the time comes as it surely will, when we face that awesome moment, the final judgment, I’ve often thought, as Fulton Sheen wrote, that it is a terrible moment of loneliness. You have no advocates; you are there alone standing before God – and a terror will rip through your soul like nothing you can imagine. But I really think that those in the pro-life movement will not be alone. I think there will be a chorus of voices that have never been heard in this world but are heard beautifully and clearly in the next world – and they will plead for everyone who has been in this movement. They will say to God, “Spare him because he loved us,” – and God will look at you and say not, “Did you succeed?” but “Did you try?”

I am quite certain Joe, who did not turn away from what had to be done, trying with all his heart and strength to defend the weak and defenseless, was heralded by a chorus of little ones, proclaiming before the Almighty, “Spare him because he loved us.”

We entrust our brother to the Lord, thanking Him for the gift of Joe’s long and fruitful life. May He receive His faithful servant into paradise.

Rest in Peace, Joe.

About Fr. Shenan J. Boquet

Fr. Shenan J. Boquet has served as president of Human Life International since 2011. He was ordained in 1993 as a priest of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux, Louisiana. As HLI’s president, Fr. Boquet collaborates with fellow laborers in the pro-life and family movement in over 80 countries, offering the Sacraments, giving seminars and trainings, appearing on numerous media outlets, and encouraging people of all walks of life to live as faithful advocates for a Culture of Life and Love. He is available for interviews and bookings on behalf of HLI by emailing


  1. MaryAnn Santagata on January 18, 2021 at 9:39 PM

    It is difficult for me to accept the fact that we voted in two baby killers plus the democrat minister in Georgia who enforces baby killing at 9 months of pregnancy. How could our Christians and country live with this?

  2. Bibiana Zweig on January 18, 2021 at 9:53 PM

    Thank you, Father, for sharing this news. I’ve followed Joe Schiedler for many, many years. May he rest in the peaceful arms of our Loving Savior and may God comfort Ann and their family!

  3. Andrew Eppink on January 18, 2021 at 10:53 PM

    God Bless Joe. One of the good ones.

  4. Cyndi Harrington on January 18, 2021 at 11:02 PM

    Change the Zoning to Zone those clinics out of existence in our Cities Communities and towns..This can work…

  5. Bede Adazie on January 19, 2021 at 12:24 AM

    My sincere condolence on the demise of Joe and may his soul and the souls of all the faithful departed through the mercy of God may they rest in peace Amen!

Leave a Comment