The life of Norman Weslin reads like one of the chapters in The Book of Saints and probably one of those stories to be turned into a movie. He had an interesting and very active life so, as in a movie, let’s start at the beginning.
Born August 29, 1930 to Oscar and Hilma Weslin, he was the 16th of 18 children, the first ten of whom died in infancy. The family lived in Iron City on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. It was a tough life, and he was tough. In fifth grade he met his future wife, Mary Lou. She was Catholic, and he was Lutheran, but that made no difference to him. As they reached high school age she became the center of his life.
At 17 he joined the Army and asked Mary Lou to marry him. She flatly refused unless he made something of himself. Perhaps to the astonishment of both of them, he did. He graduated from Officer’s Candidate School in October 1951 and was commissioned a second lieutenant. He went on to artillery and missile schools at Fort Bliss, Texas. While there he converted to Catholicism, and he and Mary Lou were married.
He then attended Airborne School, and it was here he began to drink heavily and became for the next twenty years, in his own words, “a hopeless alcoholic.” While stationed in Panama in 1952, he almost killed Mary Lou while driving drunk. The doctor treating her after the collision told him she had suffered a massive brain concussion and would die. A nurse gave him a green scapular and told him to pin it to Mary Lou’s pajamas and pray: “Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us, now and at the hour of our death.” He did so, and against the odds, Mary Lou fully recovered and left the hospital three days later.
While on assignment in Japan, he and Mary Lou adopted two Japanese-American childen, a two-month-old boy and an eleven-month-old girl. (He now has two grandchildren and a great-grandchild.) After Japan it was back to Fort Bliss, where Weslin graduated at the top of his class in nuclear missiles. High-level positions followed. He served tours of duty in both Korea and Vietnam during his Army career.
The drinking continued until 1968 when he retired from the Army with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. Joining Alcoholics Anonymous, he turned his life over to God as few men have. He received a master’s degree in theology from the Roman Catholic School of Applied Theology at the University of Berkley but was disgusted at the heresy and blasphemy taught at that institution.
He and his wife became involved in the pro-life movement early in their marriage, and they started Birthrights, Life Support Centers, and political action committees in an effort to stop the killing of Jesus' babies. In 1969 he began his involvement in the pro-life cause when he led the fight in Colorado to defeat a bill legalizing abortion. Mary Lou fully shared his passion for the pro-life cause.
In 1980 Mary died in a tragic automobile accident. After his wife's death, Weslin decided to join the priesthood and become a missionary priest. He had been an alcoholic for twenty years prior to this assignment, but has been recovered for more than thirty years. Pulling his life back together, he transformed his family’s home in Colorado Springs into the “Mary Weslin Homes for Pregnant, Unwed Mothers.” Over 300 expectant mothers have stayed at the home prior to giving birth.
In 1982 Weslin entered the Sacred Heart Seminary in Hales, Wisconsin, to begin his studies for the priesthood at age 52. This was during the misrule of Archbishop Rembert Weakland. After two years the orthodox and outspoken Weslin was expelled by the academic dean after he refused to attend a class he believed taught heresy. He continued his studies at Mater Dei Seminary in Spokane, Washington. After ordination he joined the Oblates of Wisdom Order.
One of his experiences as a priest was working with Mother Teresa in a nine-month learning experience counseling alcoholics and drug addicts in the slums of New York.
Prior to his ordination Fr. Weslin had taken part in “blockades” at abortion clinics, once with Bishop Austin Vaughan, his spiritual adviser. On retired status from his Order in 1988, he decided to take part in an abortion rescue in Atlanta. He and 260 other pro-lifers were sent to Key Roads prison. While there Fr. Weslin, for attempting to say Mass, spent nine days in solitary confinement. Imprisonment can often be surprisingly productive for those willing to use the time to think, as Fr. Weslin did. During his time in solitary confinement, Fr. Weslin came up with the idea for the “Lambs of Christ.” This would be an organization which would engage in civil disobedience at abortion clinics and thereby buy time for women to change their minds about aborting their babies. Fr. Weslin wrote a book called The Lambs of Christ, chronicling the "Lambs" often brutal arrests and their experiences in all the prisons across the country, available for purchase on their website.
Since 1988 Father has been imprisoned 70 or 80 times – he has lost count. Occasionally he has been found not guilty by juries, but usually he is convicted and goes to jail. After he is released he goes on to the next abortion clinic.
To its ever-lasting dishonor, the administration of the University of Notre Dame had Fr. Weslin arrested May 15, 2009, on the campus of Notre Dame during commencement ceremonies when he protested the award of an honorary degree to President Obama, the most pro-abortion president in our nation’s history. Fr. Weslin was first arrested as he carried a cross and prayed aloud while walking onto the campus. A total of 88 men and women including Fr. Weslin were arrested at this time. They became known as the ND88 and were all represented by Attorney Tom Dixon of the Thomas More Society. Due to his aggressive advocacy, all charges against the group were dropped.
In November 2009, Father managed to have himself arrested one more time with four other pro-lifers at Nancy Pelosi's office for tearing up the "Health Care" bill.
Around the time of the ND 88 arrests, Father was diagnosed with early-stage Alzheimer’s. As the disease progressed, he required placement in a Michigan facility, yet many from all over the country were able to visit him and some were able to pray the Holy Rosary with him outside the local Planned Parenthood Abortuary. In the last weeks of his earthly life, Father was filled with excitement and anticipation of his reunion with the Blessed Mother, his beloved wife Mary Lou, and all of his family and friends who went before him, as they accompany him into the eternal presence of Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Fr. Weslin touched many lives from the famous to the not-so-famous. He brought many people to Christ, and spread the joy of his faith to many. As Tom Dixon stated,” Fr. Weslin increased my faith and deepened my devotion to the Blessed Mother. Each day, when I pray the Holy Rosary, I now include at the end of each mystery. ‘Our Lady of Guadalupe pray for us’ and the ‘Ave Maria,’ both included in his daily devotion. And I now pray the ‘Memorare’ as I begin my daily travels. His legacy in my life is much greater than these things, but he will always be with me as I continue in these devotions.”
(Information for this article was obtained from many articles published on line including a letter from Tom Dixon, attorney for the ND88, and an article regarding Fr. Weslin in The American Culture, There are literally hundreds of articles and videos of Fr. Weslin on the Internet. For the most moving pro-life homily you will ever witness go to http://vimeo.com/4784688)