Fr. Colleton was a pro-life hero

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  • May 2, 2011
Father Edward (Ted) ColletonTORONTO - A hero to many in Canada's pro-life movement, Spiritan Father Edward (Ted) Colleton leaves behind a legacy of life, said Fr. Bob Cobourne, provincial superior of the Spiritans.

At 97 years old, Fr. Colleton passed away peacefully April 26 at La Salle Manor in Scarborough, Ont., where he had lived since 2007.

“He worked tirelessly for the unborn, for the pro-life movement and worked to ensure that the unborn would be protected and that life from the moment of conception to death would be sacred,” Cobourne told The Catholic Register.

Although Fr. Colleton spent the first 30 years of his priesthood as a missionary in Kenya, the most important work he did was in Canada for the rights of the unborn, said Jim Hughes, national president of Campaign Life Coalition.

He crossed the country preaching the culture of life, said Hughes. He first got involved with Birthright, then Toronto Right to Life, then Campaign Life Coalition. He was a regular columnist for the pro-life newspaper The Interim and was a regular at the annual March for Life, he said.

“He was instrumental in starting the pro-life organization called Business for Life," said Hughes. "He brought together businessmen who were concerned about the issue and helped them to focus on some practical steps that could be taken to rebuild a culture of life in Canada.”

Born in Dublin, Fr. Colleton was ordained to the priesthood in 1940. During his 70 years as a priest he served in a variety of pastoral works in Kenya, England and Ireland and came to Canada in 1971.

Hughes met Fr. Colleton the day he arrived in Canada, when he moved into the Spiritan House on the same street where Hughes lives. After that, Fr. Colleton became a frequent visitor to his home.

“Whenever he was in town, he was in my house,” said Hughes. “I could find him when I came home from work sitting on the floor doing card tricks or coin tricks with my children.”

Hughes said that Fr. Colleton raised more than $1 million for the pro-life movement through the sales of his books over the years, which included Yes, I'm A Radical, Yes, I'd Do It Again and Yes, I'm Still a Radical.

“I’ll miss him greatly," said Hughes. "He’s been a tremendous inspiration in my life.”

But there is also a more private side to Fr. Colleton that most people don’t know about, said Fr. Paul McAuley, a fellow Spiritan. He did a great deal of visiting the sick in hospitals just before they died, he said.

“I’ve heard many anecdotal stories about people who’d been away from the Church or away from the faith for a number of years,” said McAuley. “Fr. Ted would visit them and he had a great sense of humour and he was a great people person so he was actually able to bring a great number of people back to the Church or reconcile them to God before they died.

“I think he just had a love for life and interest in people,” he said.

Fr. Colleton's funeral was held May 3 at St. Joseph's Church. He is interred at Holy Cross Cemetery in Thornhill, Ont.

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