Pro-life advocates gather in San Francisco for Walk for Life West Coast

2015 March for Life in Washington DC on Jan 22 2015 Credit Addie Mena CNA 2 CNA 1 22 15 Addie Mena / CNA.

The Walk for Life West Coast aims to gather thousands of pro-life advocates in San Francisco in the next days for mutual support, outreach and inspiration.

"Great speakers. Great weather. Great comradery," event organizer Eva Muntean told CNA. "It's going to be great. We're looking forward to it because right now there's so many things going on politically and culturally."

"Ours has to be a grassroots movement, and of course work through the churches. It's super-important to try to stay unified," Muntean said. "That's going to be the key, that we all work together. We can't have this infighting. We have to keep our eye on why we're doing this: these children in the womb."

According to the walk's website,, the main event opens Saturday at San Francisco's Civic Center Plaza at 10:45 a.m. with an awareness campaign from Silent No More, a pro-life outreach and education effort. Father Frank Pavone of Priests for Life and Georgette Forney will lead the awareness campaign.

From 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. there will be an information fair with booths from pro-life groups, pregnancy centers and other aligned organizations.

The main rally will begin at 12:30, with the walk itself beginning at 1:30 p.m.

Speakers include Abby Johnson, a former Planned Parenthood clinic director and founder of the group And Then There Were None, which helps employees leave the abortion industry; Patricia Sandoval, a former Planned Parenthood worker who has returned to the Catholic faith; Rev. Walter Hoye, a Baptist pastor from Berkeley who is founder and president of the Issues4Life Foundation; and Father Shenan Boquet, president of Human Life International.

Muntean cited the event theme "Abortion harms women," noting that it will include testimonials from women affected by their abortions.

"Some of those stories are just incredible," she said.

Muntean said the recent passage of a New York law expanding abortion and securing its legal position in case the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision is overturned was "devastating" for the pro-life movement.

"We don't see the end in sight," she said. "We need to keep doing these walks and supporting life in any way, shape, or form that we can."

Any discouragement pro-life advocates feel right now is a reason to come together, learn from each other, and support each other "to keep motivated in this movement which is ultimately the most important movement of our time."

"We must stop abortion. We must stop the killing of our own children," she said.

A similar pro-life gathering takes place in Oakland the day before, on Friday, Jan. 25. The Standing Up 4 Life Rally and Walk, now in its twelfth year, will begin at noon with a rally at Oakland City Hall, followed by a march through downtown Oakland for more than 15 city blocks, circling back to city hall.

The days leading up to the Walk for Life West Coast include time for prayer, socializing, celebration, and protest across the Bay Area.

On Friday evening, a Youth Rally for Life will take place at Santa Clara's Our Lady of Peace Church, while the Dominicans of St. Dominic's Church in San Francisco will host a prayer service and confession. There will be all-night Eucharistic Adoration at Sts. Peter and Paul Church in San Francisco, as well as a Karaoke Party at The Mint event venue.

Saturday morning, Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco will celebrate Mass at St. Mary's Cathedral at 9:30 a.m. After the March, the National Shrine of Saint Francis of Assisi will host a High Mass in the Extraordinary Form at 5:15 p.m.

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A 4:30 p.m. vigil Mass at Star of the Sea Parish will be followed by a BBQ dinner with the Knights of Columbus, coinciding with a Holy Hour with the Sisters of Life. The parish will host an all-night Eucharistic Adoration. At St. Mary Magdalen Church in Berkeley there will be a Catholic Underground event, which includes Vespers, Eucharistic adoration, praise and worship, followed by a showcase of Catholic artists, musicians, poets, filmmakers and dramatists.

Anglicans for Life will hold a symposium Friday evening at the El Rancho Inn in El Camino Real Millbrae, while Orthodox Christians for Life will hold an intercession service at 11:30 a.m. Saturday in Civic Center Plaza before the main rally begins.

Muntean cited her encounters with high schoolers who went to previous Walk for Life events. They said the event energized them, and they returned to school and wrote term papers on pro-life issues and the importance of the pro-life movement.

"They were buoyed up by each other," she said. "We need to energize people, show people what abortion is, make them understand what it is."

"A lot of times people don't think it through all the way. That's very important, just to teach each other," said Muntean.

At the request of Archbishop Cordileone and other regional bishops, the Apostolic Penitentiary of the Holy See has declared a plenary indulgence for Catholics who, in addition to usual conditions of making a sacramental confession, receive Holy Communion, and pray for the Pope's intentions, meet one of three conditions on Jan. 26: they attend the Mass at St. Mary's Cathedral before the pro-life event; they attend a Walk for Life West Coast-related Mass at one of the San Francisco provincial dioceses or in one of the parishes in San Francisco archdiocese; or if they cannot attend for some serious reason, such as advanced age or illness, they join themselves spiritually to the Masses being celebrated.

The provincial dioceses are widespread and include Honolulu, Reno, Sacramento, Santa Rosa, Oakland, Salt Lake City, Stockton and Las Vegas.

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