By Mary Ellen Douglas
The pro-life movement lost a valiant warrior and a great leader when God called Niel Slykerman of Winnipeg home on Sept. 26, 2000.
We extend our love and prayers to his grieving family; his wife Maria and his children Carol, Cory and Lisa.
Campaign Life Coalition leaders learned of Niel’s death during a national conference call and his pro-life family immediately joined in prayer across the country for him. Jim Hughes, national president of CLC, remarked how Niel had still managed to be an important participant in the call as he always was.
Jim told us that he first met Niel when they were both pallbearers at the late Joe Borowski’s funeral in 1996. Jim asked Niel to consider taking on the task of filling the huge void left by Joe’s death and Niel generously volunteered. Generosity was certainly a trademark of this gentle and kind man.
From that day until his illness prevented him from doing active service, Niel fulfilled every onerous task and carried out every strategy with good humour and courage. He was the president of Campaign Life Coalition Manitoba and he also had a leadership position with the Manitoba League for Life. He was also very active in his church.
Maria said that Niel was very distressed when he couldn’t do the work, on behalf of the babies, that he knew was waiting. But God had called him to another task – that of suffering – and he offered his sufferings for the preborn whom he loved so much and fought so hard for. I believe a radiant throng of tiny saints surrounded this man as he approached the throne of God to speak on his behalf as they could not speak on earth for one who fought so hard to save their lives.
John Hof, president of CLC British Columbia, said that he feels the death of a pro-lifer is in a way a joyful event. Even though our hearts are sad, we know that a faithful, God-centered person has gone to their reward. Niel now joins the vast army of the Communion of Saints who pray for us who are still struggling here in the Church Militant. God truly does give marvelous companions to all those who serve Him.
Steve Jalsevac, a CLC Toronto director, remembers Niel’s steady disposition – always cheerful, incredibly patient and remarkably willing to do whatever had to be done. Steve often wondered how this quiet, gentle man was able to accomplish so much. Niel’s wife Maria recently gave Steve the answer: besides having an especially strong spiritual life, Niel was also highly organized. He was meticulous in planning everything and was therefore able to accomplish more than most people for pro-life, his parish and other charitable causes, without drawing attention to all that he did.
Niel, perhaps you will pray for someone to fill those huge shoes that you inherited from Joe Borowski, the shoes that you also admirably filled. The person needs to have the patience of Job, the smile of an angel, the courage of the martyrs, the wisdom of Solomon – in fact, someone just like you.
Mary Ellen Douglas is national organizer of Campaign Life Coalition Canada and president of Campaign Life Coalition Ontario.