Ottawa-area pro-life activist Rita Curley passed away last month at the age of 87. During her funeral Mass on July 13, Fr. Pedro Arana of Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Parish in Vanier, Ont. noted that, “Rita was very strong in her faith and she was not afraid to express her belief.”
That summed up Curley very well – she was not afraid. In the more than 35 years that we knew her, we were led to believe that Curley was “fearless,” at least in her actions to protect human life.
Curley, a registered nurse before she retired, was involved with Action Life, Campaign Life Coalition Ottawa and REAL Women. She specialized in “undercover” research of publications and organizations. She was deeply concerned about young people and the fact that many were unaware of the teaching of the Catholic church about abortion and contraception. She also became a strong supporter of Priests for Life.
Although somewhat less than 5 feet tall, she was a formidable force for the cause of life. She regularly went head-on with local talk show hosts. She was articulate and consistent in her arguments and absolutely persistent. One could disagree with Curley, and almost everyone did, but she would persist, endlessly. The truth is that even in disagreement with her about strategy, you had to see that she was right and ever true to her faith.
I recall a pro-life member of Parliament saying he had no need of further research materials, because there was a wonderful little lady who always supplied him with everything he needed to speak on life issues in the House of Commons. Of course, the lady was Rita Curley.
One stormy Christmas morning, all power went out in the west end of Ottawa. Curley called and invited our family to dinner at her east-end home. She did not flinch at the prospect of feeding seven (or more) unexpected guests. The power outage ended shortly, but we were most grateful for the generous invitation and not surprised that Curley had thought of us.
Curley regularly attended CLC information meetings and was always acknowledged by national president Jim Hughes when he visited. However, no amount of flattery or teasing from Hughes would deter her from her mission to announce some valuable information she had uncovered in her amazing investigations of the enemies of life.
In Rita Curley, we have lost another of God’s completely dedicated workers for life.
Karen Murawsky is the retired director of public affairs for Campaign Life Coalition Ottawa.