Julie Schmit-Albin, executive director of Nebraska Right to Life, poses for a photo with Nebraska Catholic Conference executive director Tom Venzor and archbishop George J. Lucas upon her reception of this year’s Gospel of Life Award at the Bishops’ Pro-Life Banquet in Lincoln Sept. 20. COURTESY PHOTO


Julie Schmit-Albin Honored With Gospel Of Life Award

Faithful, Watchful Citizens

The following are remarks adapted from the Bishops’ Pro-Life Banquet, which took place in Lincoln on Sept. 20. The banquet featured this year’s Gospel of Life Award bestowed on a person who has demonstrated exemplary efforts in the pro-life movement.
It was 1981. She was 24 years old. And pregnant with her first child.

Within her heart, she felt compelled to attend her first Nebraska Walk for Life in Lincoln.

During the walk, she was struck by the fact that her baby was wanted and protected, but countless other babies were being aborted. She experienced a grave sense of injustice at this civil rights violation. Her response: a desire to rectify this injustice of abortion within her lifetime.

For the past 38 years, Julie Schmit-Albin has been doing just that. And those efforts are why she is this year’s winner of Nebraska Catholic Conference’s Gospel of Life Award.

After that walk in 1981, Julie started attending Lincoln Right to Life meetings. She and her husband, John, later moved to Fullerton, where Julie started Nance County Right to Life and became a board member for Nebraska Right to Life. Shortly after returning to Lincoln in 1989, Julie became the executive director of the organization.

As executive director, Julie has been responsible for education and legislative and political outreach. This has included major efforts like the Nebraska Walk for Life, the pro-life booth at the State Fair, Pro-Life Legislative Day, and the Nebraska Right to Life Political Action Committee Voter Guide. Julie’s pro-life efforts have undoubtedly reached hundreds of thousands of Nebraskans. I’d venture to guess that nearly every Nebraska pro-life advocate, in the last 30 years, has been affected by Julie’s heroic efforts.

Julie is best known for her tenacious political advocacy. As a senior staff member for then-U.S. Sen. Ben Nelson said in a 2007 Lincoln Journal-Star article: “Anyone who runs for public office without touching base with (Julie) does so at their peril.”

Reflecting on Julie’s pro-life legislative advocacy over the years, Lt. Gov. Mike Foley shared: “Senators fear Julie. They know she’s as serious as a heart attack. And if they don’t vote pro-life, they’ll feel the pressure.”

Julie’s father, Loran Schmit, was a state senator from 1969 to 1993 and is acknowledged as one of the major political influencers in the state Legislature’s history. Even then, the story goes that Sen. Ernie Chambers once told then-Sen. Schmit that he was much easier to negotiate with than his daughter Julie.

As a political advocate, Julie has been fearfully respected. When she walks into the State Capitol, everybody knows that she means business on behalf of the unborn child and her mother.

Julie has never shied away from prophetically advocating for the inviolable dignity of every human being from the moment of conception to natural death. She has always been willing to go toe-to-toe or bunt heads with the most politically influential (regardless of their political affiliation), because it is what our society’s most vulnerable – the unborn – deserve.

But Julie has always been more than a political advocate.

She has been keenly aware that the culture of life doesn’t begin and end at the statehouse. For Julie, being a pro-life advocate requires influencing the culture, transforming the hearts of women and men across the state, one-by-one, prayer-by-prayer. In these efforts, Julie has been a woman of deep love, kindness, compassion and prayer.

Julie has shown great care and concern for every grassroots pro-life advocate she has encountered over the years, sensitive to their needs and a partner in their local efforts.

Julie’s pro-life values and efforts have also always had a place in the home. Whether it has been late nights of planning for the next major event or keeping up with administrative tasks, Julie’s family has witnessed her dedication and joined in the efforts. But, most of all, Julie has consistently remained a loving, caring and involved wife, mother and grandmother throughout all the busyness and chaos, always meeting the needs of her husband and four children – saying yes to life in the same way her mother, Rene Jo, taught her to say yes to God’s greatest gift.

Most importantly, all of Julie’s pro-life efforts have begun and ended with Jesus Christ. She has been faithful to our Lord in the Eucharist and his church, and finding deep friendships with the saints.

So, whether Julie has been putting the heat on state senators to pass laws protecting unborn life, whether she has been vetting the pro-life credentials of political candidates, whether she has been weathering the elements of many a cold January day in Washington, D.C., and Lincoln to peacefully protest Roe v. Wade, whether she is joyfully witnessing to the sufferings of life for the sake of the Kingdom, or whether she has been saying yes to the gift of life in her motherhood or spoiling her grandson, Julie has been a faithful disciple of the gospel of life.

Tom Venzor is executive director of the Nebraska Catholic Conference, with headquarters in Lincoln. Contact him at tvenzor@necatholic.org.

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