The Toronto-area pro-life community is mourning the death of one of its most stalwart supporters.

Michelle Mary Fleming passed away in her home on New Year’s Eve after a lengthy illness. Even in sickness, however, she had kept the pro-life movement in her thoughts and prayers.

“She went through a great deal of suffering, which she bore very bravely,” said her friend, Eunice Morgan. “She offered her suffering up to God for the world. She just wanted to accept the suffering, and have people go and pray for her.”

Morgan said Michelle was “very worried” about what was going on in the world, but didn’t just pray about it, she got involved on a number of fronts. In the 1980s, for example, she participated in Operation Rescue activities at freestanding Toronto abortuaries.

“She was a very strong pro-lifer, a brave woman,” said Morgan. “We always used to have fun and a lot of laughs.”

Morgan also recalled Michelle’s fervent devotion to the Catholic Mass, particularly the traditional Tridentine rite, which she continued to attend right to the end despite the increasing toll her illness was taking. “She would often have to lie on the floor” during the service, said Morgan.

Campaign Life Coalition president Jim Hughes recalled Michelle as a woman who was “right there, solid as a rock” whenever a pro-life cause came up.

“She supported everything that came along,” he said. “She was a no-compromiser, and was absolutely appalled at the lack of leadership from the Canadian (Catholic Church) hierarchy. She was a very prayerful woman, who offered prayers and sacrifice for the unborn.”

He noted that the pro-life cause was a family thing in the Fleming household, with husband Dan active in the Business for Life organization.

Michelle is also survived by children Maurice, Karen, Susan, Diane and Judy, as well as 14 grandchildren.