It has been said that men of great character are frequently unappreciated until eulogies are read at their funerals. This will not be the case with one of the most heroic pro-life men I have ever known—Mr. Joseph Scheidler. He is a husband, a father, a leader and an amazing evangelist all rolled into one!
My husband Paul and I go back a very long way with "Joe the Hero." It all began in the late 1970s, before there was a Pro-Life Action League. It seems that a particular board of directors which Mr. Scheidler served at the time was trying to do everything it could to stop him from being the activist he was born to be. He confided in my husband that these things were going on and, lo and behold, the Pro-Life Action League was born. We do not take any credit for this phenomenon; we simply thank God that our ears were available during those trying days Joe had to live through such a long time ago.
I fondly remember an amazing trip to Rome and the Vatican in 1982. Joe was among the pro-life leaders who were there as well. Our children were very young then, and Joe had convinced the three of them that the Ancient Romans buried their money near the site of the Baths of Caracalla. The kids fell for his insightful history lesson hook, line and sinker—never thinking that Mr. Scheidler would have gone there before them and actually buried the coins himself. I will never forget the screams of joy that we heard as our children "discovered" those old coins.
The next day we attended a Papal Mass and, as was his custom, Joe was in a white suit, white shoes and white hat. He escorted us to some pretty good seats near the front where the children could see Pope John Paul II, and not a single usher stopped Joe from his mission—to take those kids as close as he could get them. "Uncle Joe" was like the mafia don, and the waters of the Red Sea (actually a sea of people) parted as he made his way with us following close behind.
Those were the days. But what has endeared the "godfather of activism" to us is his bold defense of his faith coupled with his ingenious tactics for teaching and preaching the truth in front of abortion mills all across this country.
At his coming April 2 tribute, a tremendous amount of loving words will be said about this great man, but perhaps the one thing that I can say, now before my husband and I leave the USA for a few months, is that Joe Scheidler has set a standard of excellence to which every pro-life American should aspire. His fearlessness, even in the face of the vicious lawsuits and threats to his life and property, never deterred him from his mission in life—defending the innocent.
We think of him around American Life League much as we think of St. Thomas More, another "man for all seasons." And like that great saint, whom Pope John Paul II called "an imperishable example of moral integrity" and "a witness to the primacy of the truth over power," Joe will always be the standard bearer for those qualities that separate great men from other types of human beings.
He goes where he must and never falls prey to the temptations of the world in which he resides. Thank God for Joe Scheidler, his leadership, his example and his humility. The world would indeed be the poorer had this man of courage, who is totally devoted to God, never walked in our midst.
We love you, Joe!