R.I.P. Brother Paul O’Donnell ~ Taken too Soon
By Jacki Ragan,
One of the sweetest, kindest men I have ever known passed away today. I can’t imagine that it was his time but God knows these things, not me. Brother Paul was only 55 years old. He was the Superior at the Franciscan Brothers of Peace, a stalwart advocate for life throughout its spectrum, and he was my friend – for well over 25 years. He was also one of my heroes.
Brother Paul was a founder of the Pro-Life Action Ministries and served with them still. He was a board member of the Terri Schiavo Life and Hope Network, and a valiant spokesperson for life.
If someone was in need, any need, he was there. He was always there for the babies– front and center, from the time he was a teenager. Always. When Terri Schindler Schiavo was being starved and dehydrated to death, ten years ago next month, he was there. He was there for Terri. He was there for the family, helping hold them together. And his presence at their side brought great comfort to all of us who knew him because we knew that if Brother Paul was on the scene, things would be as okay as they possibly could in such a situation.
More recently, Brother Paul was there for baby Joseph Maarachli and his family. He was there for Jahi McMath and her family. His ability to advocate for the medically vulnerable started decades ago when he was there to fight for and care for Brother Michael Gaworski, fbp, the founder of the Franciscan Brothers of Peace, and to save and protect him from the death movement and its care-rationing and euthanasia agenda. Brother Paul, himself, said it was because of Brother Michael that the Franciscan Brothers of Peace were on the forefront of the battle to save the life of Terri. Out of that tragedy, this good and gentle man learned to be the anchor others would need in similar times of need.
He would travel far and wide to spread the message of life. From the National Right to Life Conventions, to the Life and Hope Network, to Youth Camps — any gathering where he could speak on the life issues, he was there. One of our camp leaders referred to him as her “superhero in a habit.” And that fits.
What an honor and privilege it was to see him in action, taking a stand for the truth…for life.
We chatted on the phone often and I will miss hearing his voice. I will miss him at this year’s convention. I will miss him every day.
For now, I will picture him holding baby Joseph, hugging on Bob Schindler and Terri Schindler Schiavo, Brother Michael, and reuniting with his parents. Today, Heaven is a little more crowded, but we can be very certain that the words “Well done, thou good and faithful servant” are reverberating throughout heaven and, as Congressman Henry Hyde so eloquently spoke decades ago, “ a chorus of voices never before heard in this world” will also be joining in that welcome.
We will miss you, our very dear brother and friend, but we will see you again. Until then, we will do everything we can to be worthy of the lessons you taught us about never saying “no” when there is a life to be saved.