Every year, the Walk for Life West Coast honors a person or people who have been notable for pro-life heroism with the St. Gianna Molla award. The award is named for St. Dr. Gianna Molla (1922-1962; Canonized 2004). While pregnant, Dr. Molla refused to have an abortion even though the pregnancy endangered her life, and indeed, Dr. Molla died one week after her daughter, Giana Emanuela, was born.

This year’s St. Gianna Molla award winner is Fr. Peter Irving, pastor of Holy Innocents parish in Long Beach.

Fr. Peter Irving is known as a transformer.  He’s transformed parishes, neighborhoods, actual church buildings and lives.  He’s been stationed in gang ridden neighborhoods and almost empty, dilapidated parishes.  He’s reached out to communities, literally by going door to door, and made them communities who work together to make better lives for themselves and others.  He’s left at least one of these parishes with danger and crime only a faint memory and a robust, faithful parish their future.  His current assignment takes on the similar challenges and aspirations.  

Father Peter Irving and his parish, Holy Innocents in Long Beach, should serve as an inspiration and example to all of us.  Knowing that the Family Planning Associates he had prayed at was in the parish boundaries, Fr. Irving requested to be assigned to Holy Innocents Parish.   He educated and rallied his parish on abortion and the Culture of Life and they, together, adopted this clinic. They offered help and counsel mothers who felt they had no options. Fr. Irving and his parish (the old to the young) cover every aspect of saving these women and children from sidewalk counseling at the clinic to supporting the women after the arrival of their babies. Since February of 2008, Fr. Irving and his parish have over 500 confirmed saves of mothers and their babies from destruction at the hands of this clinic.  His parish is bursting at the seams with these families who have found a haven in Holy Innocents parish. There are no more dedicated people to spreading the Culture of Life than Fr. Irving and his parishioners.

Past recipients of the St. Gianna Molla award include Fr. John Malloy, SDB; Mr. Jim Holman, for his ongoing work in support of Parental Notification, Pro-Life heroes Mr. & Mrs. Walter and Lori Hoye; and Mr. David Bereit, National Campaign Director of 40 Days For Life.