The 2014 Walk for Life West Coast will host an engaging series of events surrounding the walk itself, which one of the founders is calling a fruition of ten years of pro-life witness in San Francisco.
“We have so many events around the walk: the Law of Life summit, the sidewalk counselor training by Abby Johnson, the very first west coast Students for Life of America conference … it's the fruits of the walk,” Eva Muntean, a co-founder of Walk for Life West Coast, told CNA Jan. 7.
“It's amazing the fruit that comes out of making these events happen.”
The Walk for Life is a pro-life march held annually in San Francisco, from Civic Center Plaza to the Ferry Building on the San Francisco Bay.
This year's event will occur Jan. 25, and will be preceded by a Mass said by the city's archbishop, Salvatore Cordileone. The walk will be followed by sidewalk counselor training, and an evening Mass in the extraordinary form.
The walk is held on a Saturday, Muntean explained, to facilitate the participation of more families and young people, and it is always focused on “how abortion hurts women.”
On Jan. 24, events include a youth conference held by the Sisters of Life; a legal summit; a prayer vigil, and all-night Eucharistic Adoration. The Sunday after the walk will feature a conference for Students for Life of America.
Students for Life of America has been “so motivated by the walk,” and having “decided that their east coast conference is such a success, they wanted to start doing it on this coast,” Muntean said, adding that it is another “fruit of the walk.”
Speakers at this year's walk come from an array of backgrounds; notable among them is Monica Snyder, of Secular Pro-Life. The group seeks to unite pro-life persons regardless of religious beliefs, and argue for the rights of the unborn on the basis of reason alone.
Snyder “is great,” Muntean said. “She's a wonderful, well-spoken, articulate woman who is very pro-life, and fights the battle without religion, and I think it's fantastic to show that you don't have to be religious to be pro-life.”
The Walk for Life's other speakers are Shari Rigby, an actress and mother; Grace Dulaney, of the Agnus Dei Foundation, which supports women who give up their children for adoption; and Clenard Childress, a Baptist pastor and the director of Black Genocide, which educates about abortion's disproportionate threat to the African-American community.
Muntean said the Walk for Life “has spent a lot of effort” reaching out to non-Catholics, and that while “ the majority of people who come are Catholic, but we're finding more and more people who tell us they are not.” The invocation at the walk will this year be given by an Anglican bishop, and “we invite everyone to join us,” she added.
“It's our tenth anniversary, and that's huge for us; we're working hard to make it a special event.”
The walk has purchased 50 six-foot tall banners for the event, which features its logo and the mantra “abortion hurts women.”
The “bright and beautiful” banners are “posted along Market Street (the walk's route) on the light poles, and it's caused quite a stir here in the city … we wanted to reach out to the city.”
“They're out for a full month,” having been erected Dec. 26, Muntean said. “We're trying to make ourselves heard here, in San Francisco, and to show that … we're pro-life, and we're here to stay.”
While pro-choice groups such as Silver Ribbon Campaign to Trust Women have protested the signs, the San Francisco mayor has maintained their presence because the city's public works department does not consider the content of messages on approved signs so long as they do not include profanity or nudity.
Last year's Walk for Life drew an estimated 50,000 participants, and Muntean indicated that the organization is “on par for last year.” She noted that the beginning and end of the route are now both served by the Bay area's public transit, “so I think we'll grow. We'll see by how much on the 25th.”
Muntean added that the Walk for Life is a “labor of love,” as she and all those who make it happen are volunteers.
“The Walk for Life West Coast is a strictly volunteer-based event, so everyone who works on Walk for Life, including myself … have full-time jobs,” and that the volunteers have virtually “two full-time jobs for several months out of the year to make the Walk for Life happen.”
“If there was ever a good definition of 'labor of love,' it's the Walk for Life.”