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We love hearing these stories–if you have something you’d like to share from your experience at the Walk for Life West Coast send it to firstname.lastname@example.org. Here’s the first one:
You have to know what happened at the Walk for Life West Coast today. And I have to tell you. Because I was the only person where it happened who can tell you.
At the end of the walk, a group of abortion supporters stood on Embarcadero Street. They held up three 10-foot signs facing the pro-life supporters walking down Market Street toward them. I wanted pictures of the pro-life crowd. The 10-foot signs blocked my view. I had to move in front of the signs for a moment to get my shots. I was close enough to the abortion supporters to hear them talking. After taking my pictures, I lowered my camera. I was only there about a minute. It was just long enough to witness what happened. I moved away from the 10-foot sign-holders. 50,000 pro-life supporters walked toward them. I heard the unmistakable sound of discouragement in their voices.
What happened was that they said, “Let’s go,” “Yeah,” they took down their signs, and walked away.
And here is the second one, a wonderful story about a young mother and her boyfriend who met a sidewalk counselor outside of San Francisco’s Planned Parenthood. The counselor spoke with her, and a second counselor (who shared the story) spoke with her over the phone, sharing the message of hope and life:
The counselor put me on the phone and I spoke to (the young woman) at great length….I asked her to come to the Walk to show her the pro-life community that loves and supports mothers like her and their unborn babies. They came.
They heard the speakers and had a chance to meet pro-life people that surrounded both her and her boyfriend with love, offering their support. Tears were streaming down her face because she was so moved. (The) counselor was with us, too. They left feeling very uplifted. If the crowd only knew that their presence made such a difference in the decision of this young mother in crisis– that just such a mother they were fighting for was one among them.
Thank you once again for featuring the (RU486) reversal though Becky and Dr Delgado. Becky’s testimony was delivered with so much joy, she and Zechariah (who waved to the crowd) captured the hearts of everyone there.
Congratulations! A light shined brightly in SF yesterday.
On January 29, 2015 noted Vatican watcher Sandro Magister published a column detailing the response of Fr. Joseph Fessio, SJ, founder of Ignatius Press, co-founder of USF’s legendary Ignatius Institute, and chaplain of the Walk for Life West Coast, to a recent statement by French Jesuit Pierre de Charentenay. In the pages of the Jesuit journal La Civiltà Cattolica, Fr. de Charentenay had “slammed the Filipino bishops for being ‘backward’ and ‘closed off’” because of their Excellencies opposition to a recently passed “reproductive health” in the Philippines. De Charentenay also took a few swipes at Filipino culture.
Magister describes de Charentenay words as “…clearly disparaging toward the cultural limitations that he identifies in the Catholicism of the Philippines” then quotes de Charentenay’s description of the Filipino Church as being: “close to a Latin American spirituality, expressive along the lines of the Spanish model but without the liberal tendencies inherited from the Enlightenment or the French Revolution.”
These Europeans, who come from places where both birth rates and church attendance have plummeted, need to ‘check their privilege’ as the young people say nowadays. De Charentenay’s attitude is identical to Cardinal Walter Kasper’s contemptuous dismissal of the African bishops at the recent synod on the family, asserting that the views of African bishops are not listened to. Here’s some news for you, Eminence: the African bishops are gratefully listened to, by the faithful in Africa and all over the world.
Fr. de Charentenay and Bishop Kasper are part of what Pope Francis recently described as ‘ ‘new ideological colonization that tries to destroy the family.’ Two weeks ago, in (of all places) the Philippines, Pope Francis “warned against increasing efforts ‘to redefine the very institution of marriage, by relativism, by the culture of the ephemeral, by a lack of openness to life.’”
Magister continues “From San Francisco, after reading the rejection of the Filipino bishops decreed by Fr. de Charentenay because of their closure to modernity, the Jesuit Joseph Fessio reacted by sending us the letter reproduced below.
I am deeply saddened and distressed by what Fr. Pierre de Charentenay has written. It is all the more damaging because the book, as you have described it, is otherwise a serious and informed work.
Here are two passages which I find especially noxious, even though – perhaps because – they give expression to widespread, but false, opinions.
1. Fr. de Charentenay writes: “In the discussion, the Catholic Church never mentions the proliferation of abortion, a reality decidedly more serious than the contraception it is fighting. The two things are connected, because abortion is the means for avoiding birth when contraception is not used. The greater evil follows the lesser evil.”
Is it true that abortion is a greater evil than contraception, even “decidedly more serious”? Not necessarily. Take the case of married couples who without grave necessity use contraception to postpone having children for years after they are married. Certainly in some cases it is God’s will for them to be open to new life. Which then is the graver evil? To prevent the conception – and very existence – of a human being with an immortal soul, desired by God and destined for eternal happiness? Or to abort a child in the womb? The latter is certainly a grave evil, “Gaudium et spes” calls it an “abominable crime”. But a child exists who will live eternally. In the former circumstance a child God intended to be will never exist.
Certainly contraception is widespread, even among married Catholics. But, just as in the millions upon millions of procured abortions that have taken place in recent years, the profound question is raised: How can God allow such evil to proliferate? There are no easy answers to this “mysterium iniquitatis.” And that means that the easy answer – that an evil like contraception is not really serious – is unacceptable for a Christian. God’s ways are not our ways. But that does not negate knowable fundamental principles, one of which is: it is a greater evil to deprive someone of existence than to deprive someone of temporal life.
In addition Fr. de Charentenay’s fundamental error of reason, he is also factually in error. He rightly states that abortion and contraception “are connected”; but they are not connected in the way he implies. i.e. that increased access to contraception will reduce the number of abortions. The facts support the exact opposite conclusion. Statistics worldwide show that increased access to contraception has a high correlation to increased abortions. And the data are also intuitive: once a contraceptive mentality has become widespread, then abortion is regarded as simply a “backup” when contraception fails – as it so often does.
2. Fr. de Charentenay writes: “The RH Bill was conceived of to assist the poor populations and permit them to have access to the contraception that the middle class and the wealthy are already using. The different social groups do not have the same opportunities on this point. So the RH bill responds to a question of justice that is motivating the government on behalf of these poor populations.”
The pernicious error here is obvious and needs little comment: because the wealthy are able to circumvent a law proscribing a grave evil, then the law should be abolished so that the poor are not deprived of the same opportunity.
I am not saying that there cannot be sound reasons for the Church in some circumstances to tolerate laws which permit a moral evil. However the claim that it is a “question of justice” is not one of them.
Fr. Joseph Fessio, S.J.
Fr. Fessio is a true son of Ignatius: brilliant, fearless, faithful. We are blessed and proud to have him as our Chaplain!
This beautiful story, from a Walk volunteer, is why we Walk without confrontation, with love, with open hands of invitation and hope to those who oppose us.
I was so very distracted on Saturday as I was running around, that I almost missed a very special moment of grace! At one point even, when I went back to get the WFL Rally Speakers from the spot where I’d left them near the EWTN stage (and none of them were there, I was wondering however will I find the Speakers in that immense crowd?!).
So my mind was immensely preoccupied as I was standing near the WFL Relief Vans at Civic Center Plaza, when I finally noticed an older woman really eyeing me and taking me in. I guess I looked “official” to her since I was wearing my WFL badges, carrying a walkie-talkie radio, and wearing a security vest. She made a bee-line straight for me. My first impression of her was that she seemed a bit hardened and unfriendly, so I didn’t know what to expect. She came and stood right in front of me, looked me squarely in the eyes, and said these words which I will never forget:
“I was your opposition! For the first time this year, I am WALKING WITH YOU!!!”
So, lives continue to be changed by the witness of the Walk for Life each year!
Lord, let us be humble channels of your grace! All thanks be to God!
Here’s another Walk story:
Close to the end of the Walk, I stand on the sidewalk clapping, smiling and personally thanking as many individuals as I can for participating, and standing for Life. At one point, one of the older curmudgeons who had been shouting the same phrase over and over accosted me and tried to win her argument by saying: “If they are so pro-life, where are their children?”
At that, I turned to the crowd and began pointing out children to her, walking, being carried, in baby carriages….and her eyes just opened wide, as if she was seeing something ***the children*** for the first time. She had not seen the children before, and now, there they were, all over the Walk….
From time to time people send us their experiences at the Walk. Here’s one:
When the speakers were just finishing up a heckler came near the stage with a sign that said, “Kill all babies” and was chanting the same. A woman in the crowd went up to him and started praying the rosary. He started moving away from her and she followed him. Then a man from the crowd joined her. They both followed him to the corner where he put down his sign and walked away. The woman was my wife….
I think we need to form a couple of “Woman’s Rosary Brigades” for the next walk to confront hecklers that try to enter the Civic Center. That’s the kind of confrontation we want.
The website of Mt. Angel Seminary shares this poem, written by seminarian Ivan Arevalo, about why he attends the Walk for Life West Coast.
I walked for me, with no shoes
I walked for a promise, my promise
I walked for my hurt, for my pain
I walked for my wounds, my sorrow
I walked for my living, for my dead
I walked for hope, my hope
I walk now for them
I walk now barefooted
I walk feeling the broken and wounded road
I walk for the broken and wounded on the side of the road
I walk because I am broken and wounded
I walk for their hurt, I walk for their pain
I walk for their wounds, I walk for their sorrow
I walk for the breath not taken
I walk for the steps not taken
I walk for their living, I walk for their dead
I walk for hope, their hope, our hope.
Jong Arcega, one of our superstar Walk for Life West Coast Media Team members, has posted lots of great photos to the Walk’s Flickr page. To see more of Jong’s work, or get permission to use photos, visit his website.
Here’s a sample:
Eva Muntean speaking at the rally.
The Silent No More Awareness rally.
There’s always plenty of different kinds of Music at the Walk for Life West Coast!
Young people at the rally.
At the Walk.
Adorable kids were everywhere!
Faithful Catholic College Students Joined Tens of Thousands in West Coast Walk for Life
Students from Thomas Aquinas College (TAC) in Santa Paula, Calif., and Wyoming Catholic College (WCC) in Lander, Wyo., joined the tens of thousands of participants at the 2015 Walk for Life West Coast in San Francisco last weekend, according to Catholic San Francisco.
The Walk for Life is the largest pro-life demonstration in the Western United States, second in the nation to only the National March for Life in Washington, D.C., and draws large crowds of youth and college students each year. More than 50,000 people reportedly participated in the 2015 walk.
More than 200 undergraduates from TAC and 60 from WCC were among those who gathered for the pro-life rally and walk this year. TAC students helped to lead the walk and also helped to direct people and traffic throughout the event.
One of the great things about the growth of the Walk for Life West Coast is how many associated events have emerged. One of these is the very important Law of Life Legal Summit West. This year saw the second annual summit. LifeSiteNews has the story:
Life Legal Defense holds second annual Law of Life Summit in San Francisco
By Alexander Lash
SAN FRANCISCO, CA, January 28, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) — On the evening of January 24, just hours after the culmination of the West Coast Walk for Life in San Francisco, The Life Legal Defense Foundation held its annual Law of Life Summit. It was a fitting conclusion to a weekend of pro-life events that spanned across the nation, from the March for Life in Washington D.C. on Thursday, January 22, to the Pro-Life Rally in Texas on January 24, to the events in the Bay Area.
The Law of Life Summit was founded in 2011 in conjunction with the March for Life in Washington by Royce Hood, Dana Cody, and Dr. Pat Castle. The purpose of this summit is to give pro-life leaders a chance to gather and discuss creating measurable goals to end abortion. The event was introduced in San Francisco in 2014 and now occurs annually in both locations.
Life Legal Defense was founded in 1989 and it strives to give the innocent and helpless of any age, a defense against the threat of death.
Pro-lifers come from all over to the Walk for Life West Coast, including from Reedley, CA. Here’s an article from the Reedley Exponent describing the experiences of some local young people at the Walk:
Taking a walk for life
Reedley residents part of large contingent at San Francisco rally, march opposing abortion
By Eddie Jimenez / Special to The Exponent
About 450 people from Reedley and surrounding communities took part in the 11th annual Walk for Life West Coast rally and march Jan. 24 in San Francisco to voice their opposition to abortions in the United States.
Parishioners from St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church filled four of the eight buses that departed from Reedley.
They were accompanied by residents from Dinuba, Parlier and Selma.
The Valley residents joined an estimated 50,000 people who gathered for the rally at the Civic Center Plaza and the march along Market Street.
Many young people were among the Reedley contingent, including brothers David and Randy Martinez. Both participated in the the rally and march for the second time on Saturday.
David, 19, said he wanted to show his continued support of being pro-life. He also said liked the rally speakers, many whose lives were affected by abortions.
“I really enjoyed the impact they have on people, especially when they share their stories,” he said…