Pro-life champion Fr. Paul Marx, OSB, founder of Human Life International and the Population Research Institute, died Saturday, March 20, at St. John's Benedictine Abbey in Collegeville, Minnesota.. He was 89.

A wake will be held Thursday, March 25, at 7 p.m. at the St John's Abbey Church in Collegeville. His funeral is scheduled for Friday, March 26, at 3:30 p.m. at the same church.

A news release from the Population Research Institute said Fr. Marx passed away “after a period of declining health.”

Fr. Marx, said the news release, was “founder and long-time chairman of Population Research Institute” and “a pioneer in the worldwide pro-life movement.”

“As soon as abortion became in issue in the 1960s, Father became actively engaged in promoting life, writing his first pro-life article in 1967,” said the release. “In 1972, he founded the first of his many pro-life organizations, the Human Life Center at St. John's University. Father Marx went on to found Family Life International in the U.K., New Zealand, and Australia, Human Life International in the U.S., and literally dozens of other groups around the world.”

The PRI press release provided the following biographical details:

Born on May 8, 1920 in St. Michael, Minnesota, Fr. Marx was the 15th of 17 children born to his devout Catholic parents. The example of his parents gave him an instinctive understanding of the sanctity of life and the centrality of the family. Fr. Marx received his bachelor's degree from St. John's University, Collegeville, Minnesota. He continued his studies at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, and the Catholic University of America, where he received a Doctorate Degree in Family Sociology. He did post-graduate work at Harvard, the University of California at Berkeley, and the American University in Washington, D.C. He was ordained to the priesthood on June 15, 1947 by the Order of St. Benedict. After nearly two decades on the faculty of St. Johns University, and at his own request, he was allowed to work on pro-life issues full-time, beginning the late sixties.

He undertook the task of spreading the pro-life message with apostolic zeal, urging Americans to resist the legalization of abortion at home, and organizing resistance to anti-life population control programs abroad. He was blessed with a rare combination of visionary leadership and boundless energy. Over the course of his long life, Fr. Marx wrote 13 books. In “The Death Peddlers" he warned of the coming push for euthanasia. This prophetic book sold over a million copies. His 1997 autobiography, "Faithful for Life," was another best-seller.

Fr. Marx visited over 90 countries in his tireless campaign to promote the Culture of Life, urging local pro-lifers to organize and defend life from conception to natural death.?Fr. Marx retired to St. John's Abbey in 1999, but continued to be actively engaged in the fight for life. He kept up a worldwide correspondence with fellow pro-lifers from every corner of the globe, promoting the defense of life, and continued to write. Most importantly for us at the Population Research Institute, he served as the Chairman of our Board of Directors from 1996 onward.

"In his capacity as chairman he gave us constant encouragement, sage advice, and a bountiful blessing of prayer and Masses,” said PRI president, Steven Mosher. “He will be sorely missed by those of us who remain behind. At the same time, we are confident that, from his higher vantage point, he will continue to remember us and our common struggle today to the company of Heaven.”

Mosher recounted that those at his bedside at the moment of his death said “Father raised his arms towards Heaven and said, 'Take me home.' We at PRI are determined, in honor of this great Apostle of Life, to redouble our efforts on behalf of God's little ones.”

Fr. Frank Pavone of Priests for Life said in a statement that Fr. Marx’s passing represented the loss of one of “the world's greatest pro-life advocates.”

“Fr. Marx was, first and foremost, a priest who was not afraid to be a prophet,” said Fr. Pavone. “He knew that his mission in bearing witness to the Gospel and in fostering love of God and neighbor compelled him to speak up for our smallest neighbors, those in the first moments and weeks of life. He undertook countless initiatives, made seemingly endless trips, gave innumerable talks, wrote a warehouse of articles and books, and inspired countless people in the effort to build a Culture of Life.”

“I first came to know Fr. Marx through his founding and leadership of Human Life International and the remarkable conferences he held for pro-life advocates around the world,” Fr. Pavone continued. “He was always a clear reminder to his brother priests that we should never be afraid to speak about abortion, contraception, and the beauty of human sexuality as taught by the Church. All of us at Priests for Life are grateful for the strong encouragement he gave to our ministry. We will pray not only for the repose of his soul, but for the continued fruit of his labors in the minds and hearts of so many people and in the policies of so many nations.”

"In the more than forty-year pro-life career of Fr. Marx, and through his almost three million miles of world travel, Human Life International (HLI) saw the blossoming of the world's conscience about the issues of life," said Fr. Thomas Euteneuer, who succeeded Fr. Marx as president of HLI. "Father put pro-life 'on the map' in a literal sense and through his efforts gave the world direct and organized opposition to the culture of death."