By Celine Klosterman
IOWA CITY — Sheryl Schwager, a member of St. Patrick Parish and longtime volunteer in pro-life ministries, will begin work as executive director of Johnson County Right to Life (JCRTL) Sept. 1.
She’ll oversee the ministry of the group, which organizes 40 Days for Life campaigns of prayer and witness outside the Emma Goldman Clinic, publication of pro-life letters and advertisements in local media, displays at the Johnson County Fair, and other efforts to promote the dignity of human life from conception to natural death.
She succeeds Judee Albert, who has led JCRTL for seven-and-a-half years.
“When Judee told me she was stepping down as executive director and wanted me to consider taking the position, I was overwhelmed with a feeling of peace,” Schwager said. “I had been praying for God to reveal to me how he wanted me to serve him.”
Schwager graduated from the University of Iowa in 1987 and later worked as a speech pathologist in California. There she was involved with Right to Life of Central California and Life Teen Youth Ministry. In 2011 she returned to Iowa City, where she has participated in 40 Days for Life and worked with her husband, Tim, to arrange educational pro-life displays at St. Patrick Church.
Schwager has the necessary qualities for a pro-life leader: “Passionate yet thoughtful, courageous, innovative and energetic,” Albert said.
At JCRTL, the new director hopes to continue collaborating with local churches and educating young people about fetal development, abortion and resources for people facing a crisis pregnancy. “While living the Gospel can be challenging for us all, our children, especially high school through college-aged, are particularly vulnerable to the societal evil of relativism that tells them there is no objective truth and their choices don’t have consequences,” Schwager said.
“JCRTL board members and I will continue to meet over the next few months to discuss our goals for the coming year.”
The Schwagers have four children: Andrea, a teacher at Immaculate Heart High School in Tucson, Ariz.; Sister Sophia, a novice with the Trinitarians of Mary in Tecate, Mexico; Eric, a student at the University of Iowa; and Laura, a recent graduate of City High School.
Albert, a member of St. Wenceslaus Parish, said she’ll stay involved with JCRTL — behind the scenes. “JCRTL needs more from an executive director than I am able to provide at this point, given my young family. My most important pro-life focus needs to be raising my children into the next generation of pro-life activists.
“When I accepted this position in January of 2006 I had no idea of the many ways I would learn and grow through my work. It has been a blessing and I am thankful for the opportunity.”
By Celine Klosterman