LIFE Runners founder was to be preacher in “Unplanned” film


Former Wardsville parishioner Patrick Castle PhD, founder of the LIFE Runners (, the nation’s largest pro-life athletic team, had a role in the influential motion picture “Unplanned” up until the final screening of the movie.

The film tells the story of former abortion clinic manager and one-time Planned Parenthood employee of the year Abby Johnson.

It follows her painful conversion from abortionclinic manager to pro-life activist and advocate for abortion employees who want to enter another line of work.

During filming, Mrs. Johnson asked Dr. Castle to portray her evangelical pastor, who helped with her conversion.

Dr. Castle lived in Jefferson City while serving as executive director of the Vitae Foundation and later taught chemistry at Jefferson City High School.

He remains involved with advocating for abortion-bound women from the sidewalk outside abortion facilities.

Two weeks before Mrs. Johnson called him, Dr. Castle’s daughter Paige told him, “Dad, someday you’re going to be in a movie.”

He chuckled, but her comment prepared him to say “yes” to a LIFE Runners teammate, Abby Johnson.

His only other acting role had been as captain of the HMS Pinafore at Christ the King elementary school.

“Abby said I didn’t have to act, to just be myself, big smile,” he recalled.

Part of her conversion story involved going to church with her husband and hearing the preacher proclaim two verses:

  • Matthew 18:3 — “He said, ‘I tell you the truth: Unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven’” and
  • Matthew 18:6 — “But if anyone causes any one of these little ones who believes in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and be drowned in the depths of the sea.”

The producers had Dr. Castle do some extemporaneous preaching.

Dr. Castle delivered a poignant reading of both verses during a scene in which the lead character struggles with the feeling of not belonging in church.

Although it was an accurate depiction of an important moment in Mrs. Johnson’s conversion, during screening of the movie, the scene gave some post-abortion women a sense of condemnation.

The scene was cut from the final version of the movie.

“We need to reach post-abortion women with compassion — ‘to suffer with’ — and redemption — not condemnation,” Dr. Castle noted. “This movie will help make abortion unthinkable and begin the healing.”

Spirit Catholic Radio aired the scene Feb. 14 as part of an interview with Dr. Castle. Click here to hear the segment online. 

Dr. Castle pointed out that wisdom and compassion are needed to divert abortion-determined mothers and bring healing to women who have had abortions, helping to prevent repeat abortions.

Since an estimated 45 percent of abortions in this country are not the woman’s first, “our sidewalk advocacy is a two-way street — women going in and coming out of abortion facilities, to help convince these harmed women not to come back.”

“We meet the abortion vulnerable mothers where they are at and bring them to real help, meeting her needs in the order she will allow: first serve her needs, then help her with baby’s needs, and then her spiritual needs,” he said.

LIFE Runners has 11,000 teammates, ages 1 to 101, in 38 nations and growing. About 1,000 of them are in and near the Jefferson City area.

The scene can be found online at: