Monday, December 21, 2009

California loses Catholic pro-life leader

John E. Finn Jr., who "helped to save tens of thousands of women and babies from abortion," succumbs to cancer

A funeral Mass for California pro-life activist John Edward Finn Jr. is scheduled tomorrow at 10 a.m. at St. James Catholic Church, 415 Vincent St., Redondo Beach. Burial and reception will follow at noon in the St. Francis section of Holy Cross Cemetery, 5835 W. Slauson in Culver City. A prayer vigil and viewing is scheduled tonight at 7 at St. James. 

Mr. Finn passed away peacefully on Saturday, Dec. 12, at his home in Redondo Beach with family members at his side after a valiant battle with cancer, said a statement from his family. He was 72. Mr. Finn is survived by his wife, Sherry, their six children, J.T., Dennis, Sue Cyr, Kevin, Mary Kent and Kathleen Miller, their spouses, 17 grandchildren, one sister and three brothers. 

The family statement described Mr. Finn as "a dedicated Catholic, devoted spouse, wonderful father, former teacher at Jesuit Dallas, successful businessman, conservative publisher and a pro-life leader." 

"John's decades of pro-life leadership and activism began before Roe v. Wade," said the statement. "He published and distributed huge quantities of pro-life literature and bumper stickers, while also praying and protesting abortion, including nonviolent peaceful 'rescue' sit-ins for which he went to jail. 

"For 40 years John helped to save tens of thousands of women and babies from abortion… including helping many national and international pro-life organizations with project strategies, and major fund-raising campaigns that helped raise large budgets. He was a friend and adviser to Fr. Paul Marx and Human Life International for many years." 

In lieu of flowers, said the family, those who wish to honor the memory of Mr. Finn may do so by sending a tax-deductible gift to one of his favorite non-profit organizations: Pro-Life America and, run by his son, J.T. Finn ( and; Human Life International (; or the Population Research Institute ( 

The family statement said Mr. Finn and his wife, Sherry, and their first four children moved from Dallas to California in 1966, where he took a job with Constructive Action "to help maintain and defend the freedoms that bless us here in America." Mr. and Mrs. Finn became key figures in the American conservative movement in the 1960s. Together, they helped Ronald Reagan's political career by publishing and mailing out -- from their kitchen -- 500,000 copies of the book 
The Reason for Reagan. John met the future President Reagan while helping publish this book. 

"Many believe it's no coincidence that John passed away peacefully on December 12th, the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Patroness of Unborn Babies," said the family's statement. "The examples John set with his faith, family and ministry will be his legacy. His family will miss him very, very much, but they're also very thankful for the mercy and grace God bestowed on him throughout his entire life, especially in his final days."