HYATTSVILLE, Md. — Longtime pro-life advocate Deirdre McQuade, who for more than a decade shared the views of U.S. bishops and Catholic Church teaching on the sanctity of life, died on April 21 after a battle with metastatic breast cancer. She was 53 years old.
From 2005 to 2018, while serving as associate director of pro-life communications at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, McQuade was interviewed by various media outlets and spoke at numerous events, offering insights. on palliative care, abortion and alternatives to physician-assisted suicide. .
Friends remembered McQuade as someone whose strong faith helped her firmly uphold the value of human dignity in her work.
“She was very serious about her faith and incorporated faith into life,” said author and theologian Dawn Eden Goldstein, who met McQuade in 2007 and befriended her over the years.
Goldstein recalled McQuade as an advocate for a consistent life ethic in her professional and personal life and said her values were reflected when she chose Sister Thea Bowman, a sainthood candidate who was the first African member. -American of the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration. , like his boss.
Longtime friend Colin O’Brien described McQuade’s rich sense of warmth, friendship and hospitality, which led her to “really be there for others”.
“You were sitting there and talking with her and you felt like you were the only person in the room,” O’Brien said. “Deirdre’s best friend was the person in front of her when she was with them.”
McQuade was born on September 24, 1968 to PJ and Genevieve McQuade. Her parents, now members of St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception Parish in Fredericksburg, Va., recalled their daughter’s deep faith that guided her life and led her to have a positive outlook on life.
Genevieve McQuade said her daughter’s faith ‘started to blossom’ in college when the family lived in Morris Plains, New Jersey, and she led morning prayer groups for her fellow students and also got involved in youth ministry among peers.
“Deirdre has lived her life in the Spirit. She waited for a wave to come with the power of the Spirit, then jumped on the wave like a surfer. She would go with the flow. Many of his accomplishments seem effortless. She dove with both feet. She was really immersed in the spiritual end of life,” PJ McQuade said.
This wave led her to work with women in crisis at the Women’s Care Center of Indiana after completing in 1998 a master’s degree in philosophy and a master’s degree in theology, both from the University of Notre Dame. She completed her undergraduate studies at Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania in 1990.
For nearly five years at the women’s center, McQuade has worked with hundreds of women, providing pregnancy testing, counseling and support services. She has also taught healthy relationship skills to hundreds of teens as well as homeless women.
In 1999, her experience brought her to the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, Indiana, where she became director of pastoral research and evangelism and the ecumenical office.
In 2003, she became national program director for Feminists for Life, overseeing a student outreach program, before working in short-term positions with an organization that worked with Christian professionals, then as a program analyst. at the National Institutes of Health Office of Research. on women’s health.
McQuade began working at the USCCB in 2005, when she was assigned to manage pro-life communications. This position allowed her to establish a reputation as a credible spokesperson and a well-respected speaker in parishes and in advocacy programs.
She left the episcopal conference in 2018 to pursue her love of photography and start her own business, Brightness of Water Productions, based in Hyattsville, a suburb of Washington.
McQuade was diagnosed with cancer in 2019.
Survivors include his parents and a sister, Pamela Shannon.
A funeral mass will be celebrated on May 3 at St. Jerome’s Church in Hyattsville.
A GoFundMe page has been set up to help the family with their medical bills. Donations can be made at /www.gofundme.com/f/support-deirdre-mcquade.
Kevin Schweers, content editor for the Arlington Catholic Herald, a newspaper for the Diocese of Arlington, Virginia, contributed to this story.