The pro-life community in Winnipeg, and indeed throughout Manitoba, has been saddened by the death of Patricia Soenen. Pat was executive director of the Winnipeg League for Life since 1983, an organization which she helped establish in 1970.
Having started her career as a nurse, she once believed that “if people simply realized what we knew about the fetus, the abortion issue would go away, because we don’t kill human beings.” Her career reflected a strong conviction of the need to make abortion known for what it is.
Pat’s career included work as a clinical instructor and teacher of nursing arts, and as one of the principal founders of the first Montessori School in Manitoba. She served as a school trustee, and as secretary and first vice-president of the Catholic School Trustee Association of Manitoba, and promoted the establishment of the Pregnancy Distress Service.
She served in numerous other capacities, including chair of the Education and Speakers Bureau. She was editor of League for Life News for 15 years. In her writing, she witnessed to the clear teaching of her Roman Catholic faith. She also depended on the support of the pro-life community, family and friends.
Pat was good at many things needed in the pro-life movement. She was called by the media countless times to witness on behalf of her firm belief in the dignity of each human life. She shunned any recognition for her work, saying, “These things only make it difficult for me to get to heaven.” However, the Catholic Foundation of Manitoba in 1997 recognized her work with the Caritas Award. This is an honour for outstanding service of charity and compassion in the community.
One month before she died, Pat received the papal award Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice in a private ceremony with her family in the hospital. In a short dedication ceremony following her funeral Mass, Archbishop Antoine Hacault publicly bestowed the award on Pat, noting that “her unwavering pro-life activity and her personal Christian witness have rendered an outstanding public service to the Catholic Church and to the Holy Father, Pope John Paul II, in his universal ministry to proclaim the Gospel of Life.”
Pat died on the feastday of her patron saint, Saint Patrick. Farewell, Pat, from all who knew you … “until we meet again.”