There will come a day in this country when future generations will look back on legal abortion with the same shame and abhorrence that we now look upon slavery. In that future those who stood up for the unborn will be regarded as heroines and heroes. On that day no name will be more praised than that of Father Norman Weslin.
Father Weslin followed an extremely unlikely path to the priesthood. Born 80 years ago to Oscar and Hilma Weslin, he was the 16th of 18 children, the first ten of whom died in infancy. The family lived in Iron City in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. A tough land, it often produces tough people, and Norman Weslin was no exception. Always in trouble in school, a bright spot in his life was his future wife Mary Lou who he met in the fifth grade. She was Catholic and he was Lutheran, but that made no difference to him. As they reached high school age she became the center of his life.
At 17 he joined the Army and asked Mary Lou to marry him. She flatly refused unless he made something of himself. Perhaps to the astonishment of both of them he did. He graduated from Officer’s Candidate School in October of 1951 and was commissioned a second lieutenant. He went on to artillery and missile school at Fort Bliss, Texas. While there he converted to Catholicism and he and Mary Lou were married.
He then attended Airborne School at Fort Benning, Georgia which began his association with the 82nd Airborne. Unfortunately, it was here that he began to drink heavily and became, in the words of Father Weslin, for the next twenty years “a hopeless alcoholic”. While stationed in Panama in 1952 he almost killed Mary Lou while driving drunk. The doctor treating her after the collision told him that she had suffered a massive brain concussion and was going to die. A nurse gave him a green scapular and told him to pin it to Mary Lou’s pajamas and pray, “Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us, now and at the hour of our death.” He did so. Against the odds Mary Lou fully recovered and left the hospital three days later.