Prior to the rally, San Francisco's Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone said Mass for the pilgrims who had come to give their witness to the value of life, during which he drew attention to the youthful joy of supporting the pro-life movement.
"Yes, the pro-life movement is young, vibrant and growing in strength," he said during his homily, while inviting the youth to "look around and notice those who are your elders here in this church," commending them for their example of prayerful patience while supporting the cause of life and the end of abortion.
"We don't know what the next critical issue threatening human life and dignity will be for the generation that will come after you," he told the young people gathered in the cathedral.
"One thing, though, we do know: they will look to you as the ones who bore the brunt of the battle in your generation, as you look to your elders now in the pro-life movement.
He admonished, "Don't let them down … eventually they will be your age, and will look to you for inspiration in defending human life and dignity."
Following the Mass, Archbishop Cordileone told CNA that he is glad to have the Walk for Life West Coast in his city, noting that "we can all gather here, and by virtue of our numbers bear witness to the strength of the pro-life movement."
Christine Mugridge, media relations director for the Archdiocese of San Francisco, told CNA that the Walk for Life's significance is that "this understanding of human dignity, and the gift of human life, is passed on from generation to generation … it resonates a truth with people that bypasses age groups."
"People love to see youth walking with a joy in their step, and here they do. They are bouncing with joy; but this is not a joyful topic, so the idea is 'why are they coming here, from all over the country, at great expense and exhaustion on buses, and sharing in something they celebrate'?"
She answered, "Because the meaning and focus of this isn't anti-anything, its pro-something; that meaning is infectious around the city, people see that it's a joyful witness, of the proclamation of the value and dignity of life, and that joy is contagious, and it's represented by people of all cultural backgrounds and age groups."
Carl Bunderson is managing editor of Catholic News Agency. He holds a BA in economics from the University of Colorado Boulder and a BPhil from the Pontifical Lateran University.