Priests for Life is praying for the souls of three pro-life warriors


Leslie Palma-Simoncek

  The pro-life movement has lost three stalwart advocates for the unborn in recent weeks. All three were friends, allies and supporters of Priests for Life. 

Richard F. Collier Jr., 63, a leading pro-life attorney from New Jersey, died Dec. 25, 2013. In a legal career that spanned four decades, Mr. Collier was involved in many high-profile cases. In 1997, he was appointed by a Superior Court judge to represent an unborn baby. That same year, he was appointed by the State Legislature to defend New Jersey’s partial-birth abortion ban. 

To read Mr. Collier’s obituary in The Monitor, click here.

Stephen M. O’Brien, 67, died on Jan. 30 at his home in Tennessee. Mr. O’Brien also maintained a home on Staten Island, where Priests for Life’s main office is located.

“I met Stephen almost 20 years ago via my friend Jerry Conry at a dinner in Manhattan where I also met other long-time Priests for Life supporters,” said Ruben Obregon, a consultant in Priests for Life’s IT Department.  “Through the years, we would meet for dinner, sporting events, and various pro-life events. Quite often the subject of our dinners included how Priests for Life was doing and what the pro-life movement should be doing in general.”

Fluent in five languages, Dr. O’Brien earned a PhD in literature from the City University of New York, and worked for the New York City Health and Hospitals Corp. He was a strong and faithful Catholic whose commitment to the unborn never wavered.  

John Stanton, 86, of Philadelphia, died on Jan. 31. In a moving tribute to Mr. Stanton, called him the “guardian angel for the unborn and mothers with unplanned pregnancies in the Delaware Valley for almost 45 years.”

Father Denis Wilde, OSA, Associate Director of Priests for Life, recalled Mr. Stanton as “a man of positive faith-filled Catholic action.“I have had many opportunities to lead prayer alongside this valiant pro-life giant over the past 30 years, from ‘rescue’ days onwards,” Father Wilde said. “His annual spearheading of the Philadelphia Stand up For Life dinner, which drew upwards of 1,800 attendees, made it the largest annual gathering of pro-lifers in the Delaware Valley.” noted that Mr. Stanton once spent three months in jail after being arrested during a rescue at an abortion clinic in the 1990s. In his later years, he spent three days a week praying and protesting outside three Philadelphia abortion facilities, including the West Philadelphia office maintained by now-convicted murder Kermit Gosnell.

Father Frank Pavone, National Director of Priests for Life, commented on the lives and activism of the three men.

"I have been blessed and the pro-life movement has been blessed by these three heroic men. It is so important, as we move forward in the pro-life battle, that those who are younger recruits to our movement learn about the life and example of those who have been in the movement a long time. Let us learn from them and let us build on their commitment."