On June 1st, the global pro-life movement lost one of its great warriors, a true Apostle of Life in the mold of Father Paul Marx, Human Life International’s founder. Antun Lisec, M.D., director of HLI Croatia, after a short and heroic battle with cancer, sadly, succumbed to the disease. He is survived by his wife (Bosa) and three daughters (Jacinta, Ana, Klara).
Dr. Antun, born on July 6, 1957, joined HLI’s global mission in 1991, offering his life and medical vocation in the service of the Gospel of Life. Covering an expanse of three decades, Dr. Antun gave numerous lectures in over 30 countries across Central and Eastern Europe. As a pro-life missionary, Dr. Antun exhausted himself, trying to save human lives and women from the violence and crime of abortion and youth from the ravages of the sexual revolution. He defended the beauty and sacredness of marriage, promoted God’s gift of fertility, and the dignity of every human life from the moment of conception to natural death.
Dr. Antun Lisec with Pope Saint John Paul II in 1984.
As one colleague said, “Dr. Antun was a magnificent and passionate pro-life leader. He never stopped thinking and acting to promote and defend life and the family. He thought of the people and countries who suffered without the truth and sacrificed all to bring the Good News.”
Dr. Antun understood and fully embraced the invitation of Pope St. John Paul II who said, “Christ needs you to enlighten the world and to show it the ‘path to life’ (Psalm 16:11). The challenge is to make the Church’s yes to Life concrete and effective. The struggle will be long, and it needs each one of you. Place your intelligence, your talents, your enthusiasm, your compassion and your fortitude at the service of life!” (Homily on the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, 1993)
When asked how his journey into the pro-life movement began, Dr. Antun reminisced that “When I was a medical student, I recognized that some professors taught practices that violated the Magisterium of the Catholic Church. I asked the priest of the parish near my student dormitory about the position of the Catholic Church regarding some issues, and he gave me a copy of the encyclical Humanae Vitae. Everything changed from that point forward.”
In 1988, HLI sponsored a pro-life, pro-family conference in the town of Split, Croatia, and Fr. Marx participated. He was also present during a similar conference in the town of Slavonski, Brod in 1990. “Father Marx encouraged me,” Dr. Antun said, “to leave my work in the hospital and to begin full time work as a pro-lifer. I was almost at the end of a four-year specialization in general surgery. I recognized that it is impossible to give lectures in different towns of Croatia, to travel all night back home and the next morning to perform operations well. Similarly, I could not travel to the parishes sleepy, after more than 30 hours spent at the hospital. That is why, after the specialization exam in January 1991, I left my job at the hospital and began to work for HLI.”
Dr. Antun’s dedication, passion, interventions, and public witness saved countless lives. Nothing could stifle his passion, not even his battle with cancer. Even while in the hospital undergoing chemotherapy and radiation, Dr. Antun proclaimed the Gospel of Life to doctors, nurses, hospital staff, and patients. He took into his heart and modeled his life upon the simple words of Jesus, “Truly, I say to you: whenever you did this to one of the least, of these my brothers, you did it to Me.” (Matthew 25:40).
Dr. Antun, pictured here with one of the many lives he saved.
Though we mourn the loss of our colleague, we are confident that he who fought the good fight will be rewarded for his faith, fidelity, love, sacrifices, and generosity.
Dr. Antun had a great devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Mary the Mother of God. He died on the first Saturday of the month, which is dedicated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and in June which is dedicated to the Hearts of Jesus and Mary.
Please join HLI’s global family in praying for the repose of Dr. Antun’s soul, as well as offering a prayer of thanksgiving for the gift of his life. Let us also pray that his life will inspire others to join the most important work on earth.
Funeral services for Dr. Antun will be Monday, June 3rd.