Father Norman Weslin died Wednesday at the age of 81 at a retirement home in northern Michigan. He was a devoted friend of the Pro-Life Action League, and on multiple occasions offered Mass in our office and in the Scheidler home.
Before he was ordained, Father spent twenty years on active duty in the Army, earning the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. While in the Army he married and he and his wife, Mary, adopted two children.
In 1980, shortly after he was discharged, Mary was killed in an automobile accident.
Both of them had been ardent pro-lifers, and the tragic loss led Weslin to found the Mary Weslin Homes for Pregnant, Unwed Mothers. This home has served more than 300 single mothers and still operates in Omaha.
Following Mary’s death, Father entered the seminary and was ordained a priest of the Oblates of Wisdom in 1986. He gathered a group of activist pro-lifers in 1988 and founded The Lambs of Christ.
Arrested More than 70 Times for Peacefully Protesting Abortion
Although the Lambs peacefully prayed at abortion clinics, they were frequently arrested. As they were representing the unborn babies, they would not give their names when they were arrested, but knew each other by a chosen name beginning with “Baby.”
To this day they refer to each other by these names. Father Weslin was jailed over 70 times, including his famous arrest on the campus of Notre Dame in 2009 protesting President Barack Obama’s appearance at the Commencement that year.
My recollections of Fr. Weslin at many pro-life gatherings are many, but one that sticks out was our time together during the Republican National Convention in San Diego. Many of us were staying in a low budget motel on the edge of town, and Father was sitting in a beach chair by the pool hearing confessions.
Once Father asked me to join the Lambs. I was tempted, but didn’t know if I could afford the amount of time I would be away from the League office. As it turned out, the prayer-protest I would have taken part in cost them three months in jail. I may have disappointed Father and the other Lambs, but I don’t regret my decision.
The Lambs were in reality a small religious community. When they were settled in jail they would have regular prayer schedules, spiritual reading and Mass.
Harsh Treatment by Police
When Fr. Weslin was in jail in Houston during another Republican National Convention, his attorney had procured a consecrated Host at the end of a Mass we had attended, and when he was meeting with Fr. Weslin he tried to give him Holy Communion, but the police tried to pry open Father’s mouth while also wrestling the attorney to the floor.
Those of us outside the room could not imagine what was going on. We always hoped that Father had been able to consume the Host, but never had the nerve to ask him.
Father was often treated harshly by the police, since he was bad at taking orders. There are many stories of him being dragged by his handcuffs, with a nightstick twisting the chain. He once complained, “You try not to scream, but you can’t help it.”
Father Weslin loved the League and our work for the unborn children he represented. Once when we tried to give him a pair of shoes, since his were falling apart and wrapped in tape, he graciously accepted them. But the next day he was still in the shapeless wraparounds, and the good shoes remained with us.
That was the day he offered Mass in our office, and the picture of him at the altar (see above, left) now hangs in our sacristy.
Who knows—we may have a picture of a saint.