Thousands of Pro-Lifers Defy Covid and Political Unrest to Walk for the Littlest Among Us
In 2021, WE were the biggest! Every year the Walk for Life West Coast truly declares ourselves “The SECOND largest pro-life event in America”—behind only our beloved big sister and inspiration, the March for Life in Washington DC. But in 2021, as so many pro-life events decided to be extra safe due to Covid-19, we faced a choice. As co-chair Dolores Meehan said “Many people have voiced their concerns about holding this event given fears of Covid and political unrest. As the leaders of this local event, we prayerfully considered all of these concerns. We discerned that continuing to stand as a peaceful, public witness to the harm that abortion has inflicted on our society, is as important today as it has ever been. We appreciate all of the prolife warriors who supported us in prayer (from home) this year. Your contribution is essential and your prolife commitment is unquestionable.” And on January 23, 2021 we chose to WALK for LIFE and, for the first time WE were the largest pro-life event in America!
So, the 17th annual Walk for Life West Coast became a Walk like no other. Under the twin threats of Covid and political unrest, we wrestled with the decision of whether to hold the Walk or create a virtual event. Excellent arguments were made on both sides, but Walk stalwart the Rev. Walter Hoye put everything in perspective by saying, in effect: yes, it is dangerous, and yes, it is the right thing to do. We concluded that a public witness to the 63 million lives lost through abortion more than justified the risk—it made it our duty.
But we’re human. We wondered: is there a point? Will anyone even show up? We had anticipated maybe 500 attendees, tops. In the event close to 3000 people showed up as a powerful witness to life! Eva said “I guess by now I should know better than to sell the commitment of pro-lifers short. I’ve never been so happy to be wrong!”
The day began with the annual Walk for Life West Coast Mass, celebrated at 10:30AM by Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone and 12 priests at St. Mary’s Cathedral. The Archbishop had planned to celebrate Mass in the plaza, but word of an antifa action just a block away at the Chinese embassy caused him to move the Mass indoors. The Cathedral was filled to covid capacity, and worshipers spilled out onto the plaza.
At noon walkers gathered at Civic Center Plaza. We could not have a rally, but Walk chaplain Fr. Joseph Fessio, S.J. and the Rev. Clenard Childress spoke from the bed of Dolores’s pickup truck. Fr. Fessio gave a moving tribute to Joe Scheidler, the grandfather of the pro-life movement, who passed away last week. His voice breaking, Fessio said “Well done, good and faithful servant.” The Rev. Childress, who has been with since 2005 and is sort of the daddy of the Walk, told the crowd: “You are the remnant…there has never been a more important Walk for Life West Coast!..This is a time of faith. That is why you are here right now. You did not come here because of circumstances. You are here because of justice!”
At 12:30 the Walk began, and processed down Market Street. For the very first time in 17 years there was no opposition.
Eva reflected “I’ve never have so many people come up to me and say THANK YOU for holding the Walk. When we started the Walk, George W. Bush was President. We have Walked through four years of the Bush administration, eight years of the Obama Administration, four years of the Trump Administration, and we will Walk through the Biden Administration….and whoever comes after! We have Walked under three Popes and three Archbishops. Whoever is in the White House, whoever is in the Statehouse, whoever is in the doghouse, we will not falter or fail. We will lovingly and peacefully embrace our responsibilities to the littlest among us and to the women hurt by abortion. If this is what pro-lifers can do in this strange year all I can say is wait till next year!”