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Remembering Jim Sedlak

There is not a single person who would not, when writing about the motivations for Jim Sedlak in fighting Planned Parenthood, instantly encounter his deep love and devotion to the Blessed Mother.

For those of us in the office at American Life League, there are several mementos that instantly strike you: his reading glasses, typically perched at the very edge of his nose while he would pore over spreadsheets and news articles (Jim was, if nothing else, an IBM man of the old school), are set upon a small pile of spiral notepads, each with his small, yet legible, scribbling; a notable, yet not invincible, pile of memoranda and articles laying about the desk; an inexhaustible container of pretzels, a handful of pens, a recently installed microphone for his weekly radio shows. 

Yet, of all the items piled in and around Jim’s desk, there was a small space for one book that was never missing and was seemingly always being picked up—a small blue book familiar to some: the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary. No conversation with Jim Sedlak could ever escape what he believed in his heart—that Planned Parenthood and the scourge of abortion would end through Mary’s intercession.

St. Louis de Montfort’s devotion to the Blessed Mother was something Jim shared with many as well, and for those of us privileged to hear him speak about such things, there was humility, combined with a humor that you could hear in the small laugh and see behind the light in his eyes.  For Jim and those who knew him, his devotion to the Blessed Mother and trust in Divine Providence was an outward reminder of St. Maximilian Kolbe’s admonishment that one could never love Mary too much because one could never love her more than Christ did. 

I can remember talking to Jim about the Marian Blue Wave campaign inspired by Bishop Joseph Strickland and the speed at which the enforcement of Canon 915 took in its aftermath. Jim would nod and smile, and with a wave of his finger give every ounce of credit to the Blessed Mother. That was that; Mary would end abortion. All we had to do was quit doing it our way and start doing it Mary’s way.

Jim Sedlak was a powerfully imposing man. Even as he grew older, Jim still towered over most. Yet, even as he acquired that cane, it was something else to see him physically energized whenever the topic of taking on Planned Parenthood came up. His demeanor never changed, but you could tell he was on fire and you could not help but feel ready to charge the hill when Jim Sedlak was leading that charge. 

In his more than 40 years of pro-life work, Jim Sedlak’s relentless campaign against Planned Parenthood would torment the nation’s #1 abortion provider to no end. Countless parents’ groups and community pro-life organizations saw Stop Planned Parenthood International (STOPP) as a resource for organization, information, but above all, encouragement. Planned Parenthood knew the source of strength of the man they were up against—Jim Sedlak relied upon Mary’s strength. 

In that lies the secret to Jim Sedlak’s example and relentless ministry. It is said that true courage can only come from humility, precisely because the humble soul relies not upon his own strength but the strength of God. Humility is the one virtue the devil hates most of all because it is the one virtue the devil’s pride cannot imitate. Jim Sedlak never sought notoriety or headlines, but he always looked for ways to expose Planned Parenthood for the soul-stealing organization that it is—an entirely secularist and humanist organization that devalues the human person and aggressively destroys human life with ferocity and a hunger that reason alone cannot destroy. Only faith. Only Mary.

I will add one caveat. While Jim relied upon the Blessed Mother for spiritual strength, his ministry was not entirely his alone. His wife, Michaeleen Sedlak—whom friends and family lovingly know as Mike—was Jim’s constant companion and guardian in life. I doubt Jim ever went hungry in Mike’s presence! Her constant encouragement and ability to cut through the fog and miasma of the age and say what clearly needed to be done is, and will remain, a gift. In addition to his loving wife, Jim leaves behind three children, numerous grandchildren, as well as countless friends, colleagues and associates who will remember and carry forward his legacy and example.

Planned Parenthood might mistakenly have breathed a sigh of relief at the news that Jim Sedlak had gone home to God. But the fools, the fools, the fools—now the babies have Jim Sedlak right next to his most important counselor! What, I wonder, is Jim Sedlak asking of and planning with the Blessed Mother right now? Only good, I know, and I hope we are ready for it.

The fight to end Planned Parenthood continues. Please join me in remembering and praying for the soul of a good and humble man, Mr. James W. Sedlak. 

Requiescat in pace, my friend.