Students for Life Leader Jon Scharfenberger Dies After Car Crash

Jon Scharfenberger, a nationally known campus pro-life activist who grew up in Warwick, died Oct. 18 at Medical Center of Central Georgia 10 days after he was critically injured in an automobile accident.

He was 22, and news of his death sparked an outpouring of grief, prayers and tributes in the pro-life community.

A family statement read: “Jon was born a perfect baby boy, grew into a pure and holy young man, and is now our saint in heaven. He lives in our hearts forever.”

Msgr. Edward Scharfenberger, an uncle of Jon Scharfenberger who is pastor of St. Matthius parish in Queens, offered the Funeral Mass Oct. 22 at St. Stephen’s Church, Warwick; Deacon Paul Sheptuck of St. Helena’s parish in Edison, N.J., also an uncle, was a lector.

Jonathan (Jon) Scharfenberger, who was living in Virginia, became a field director for Students for Life of America (SFLA) after graduating in May from Ave Maria University in Naples, Fla., where he was president of the Students for Life club.

At SFLA, he was campus support coordinator and coordinator of the group’s Pregnant on Campus initiative.

“The team at SFLA is beyond saddened by the news” of his death, SFLA said in a statement.

“Jon had many successes in his short time with us at SFLA, including establishing a pro-life campus group at Florida International University that was successful in saving the life of a pre-born baby, a mere one week after its creation,” SFLA said.

“We continue to offer prayers of support for Jon’s family and friends and grieve during this incredibly difficult time for our organization and mission,” the statement said.

While at Ave Maria, Mr. Scharfenberger led many pro-life initiatives. He helped raise $30,000 for the Students for Life club and committed membership grew from 30 to more than 150 by his final year.

In September 2009 he organized an overnight prayer vigil to protest the opening of a new Planned Parenthood center. In the summer of 2010 he interned at SFLA’s national headquarters in Manassas, Va., while also serving as an intern for Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kansas.

He also interned at the National Right to Life Committee.

The accident that led to his death took place on Oct. 8, when he was a passenger in a car driven by Kortney Blythe Gordon, an SLFA leader. Their vehicle was hit head-on by a speeding car on a two-lane road.

Mrs. Gordon, who was pregnant, and her unborn baby died on impact, as did the driver of the other car; two other passengers in the Gordon car also were injured, but not critically. The four were returning from a SFLA Georgia conference when they were hit.

Jonathan Scharfenberger, who was a graduate of Don Bosco Preparatory School in Ramsey, N.J., was born in Edison, N.J., and grew up in Warwick, where his family belongs to St. Stephen’s parish.

Mr. Scharfenberger’s family is well-known in the Warwick community, where his father, Dr. Dennis Scharfenberger, has a family medical practice.

He is survived by his father, Dr. Scharfenberger, and his mother, Anna, and two sisters, Kimberly and Amy, and a brother, Thomas, and grandparents Edward Scharfenberger and Elaine Scharfenberger and Lydia Smith. Burial was in St. Stephen’s Cemetery, Warwick.

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