Prominent Jesuit New Spiritual Guide of Nation’s Second Largest Pro-Life Event
This year, for the first time ever, the Walk for Life West Coast will take place without the presence of its founding chaplain, the Reverend John Malloy, SDB. Fr. Malloy went home to the Lord on Wednesday of Holy Week in 2013. Fr. Malloy’s history with the Walk for Life West Coast began in April of 2004. That’s when Gavin Newsom, then the mayor of San Francisco, began issuing illegal “marriage” licenses to same-sex couples. San Francisco Catholics decided to respond with a rally and march to promote true marriage and the Faith. But they were not having much luck finding a host Church until Dolores Meehan, one of the Walk’s founders, spoke to Bill May, President of Catholics for the Common Good. Bill told Dolores: “Well, there is this one priest….”
When Dolores visited the 82 year-old Fr. Malloy, then the pastor of San Francisco’s Saints Peter and Paul, and asked him about holding a Mass and Rally in Defense of Marriage, he did not equivocate. Fr. Malloy, with Mimi the cat on his desk, just started flipping through his desk calendar looking for a date, and said “I don’t care if I go to jail!” The Rally in Defense of Marriage had found a home. The Rally drew 1,500 people—and from then on Fr. Malloy would refer to Dolores as “my Superior”!
The heartening response to the Marriage Rally gave organizers the courage to create the Walk for Life West Coast. Fr. Malloy was naturally the chaplain, and at the first Walk, in January of 2005, he became the first recipient of the now-annual St. Gianna Molla Award for Pro-Life heroism. We miss him very much, but we know that what we lost on earth we gained as a new intercessor in heaven. Fr. Malloy we love you and we thank you!
The Archdiocese of San Francisco has a number of heroic pro-life priests whom we considered asking to be our new chaplain. But there is one other priest who has also stood behind us, with us, and ahead of us from the very beginning and that is Fr. Joseph Fessio of the Society of Jesus.
Fr. Fessio was born right across the bay, in Alameda. His achievements are legion, his determination legendary. He has become world-famous for his learning, his piety, and his unwavering dedication to the Society of Jesus and to the responsibilities of his ordination.
Lisa Hamrick, co-founder of the Walk for Life West Coast, said “I have had the great joy and honor to know and be associated with Father Fessio for most of my adult life — my first full-time job when I was fresh out of college was at Ignatius Press! Throughout the years, I have marveled at all of the great works and various apostolates that Father has founded. His personal fortitude, resolve, and leadership has carried each of these various endeavors forward and they have borne much fruit and countless blessings. Our dear Father Malloy was the beating heart behind the Walk for Life committee. Father Fessio will be the eyes and the vision to carry us forward and bring the Walk for Life West Coast to ever greater heights in the future! I couldn’t be more delighted to have Father Fessio as our new WFL Chaplain!”
Dolores Meehan added “Fr. Malloy is irreplaceable. But if he could choose his successor it is hard to imagine him picking anyone but Fr. Fessio. We’ve replaced a fighting Irishman with a fighting Italian!
We are honored and grateful that this true son of St. Ignatius has consented to be our new chaplain. We will count on him for spiritual direction, for advice, and for a share of the indomitable courage for which he is so well known.