The pilgrimage to the Walk for Life West Coast, which took place on Saturday, Jan. 24, was not only a start on the road to San Francisco for a bus load of Mount Angel Seminarians but a new start to learning what it means to stand up for the dignity of life. The Walk for Life is an annual event that takes place as a way of peaceful demonstration to bring to the attention of all people the issues of abortion and euthanasia.
The pilgrimage lasted three days, beginning with our bus ride down to San Francisco on a Friday morning and ending on our return Sunday evening to Mount Angel. We maintained a daily program of prayer and reflection as we travelled.
The seminarians, along with formation director Fr. Ralph Recker, OSB, were enthusiastic about this opportunity to witness about how they feel about the dignity of life. Seminarian Ivan Mora, a seminarian from the Diocese of Sacramento, said as the journey began on Friday, “It is exciting to be going on this trip.” He also mentioned that he had been to St Patrick’s Seminary in Menlo Park, a suburb of San Francisco, which would be the first destination for our travelers in the evening.
After the seminarians arrived at St Patrick’s in the evening, they all went to Mass at the chapel and had fellowship and dinner with the St Patrick’s students, faculty and staff who would be our hosts while we stayed in San Francisco. Some went to Eucharistic Adoration later in the evening.
The next day after breakfast at St Patrick’s it was time to head out into the sunshine of a California morning into the city of San Francisco for the Walk for Life festivities. The first gathering of the day was for Mass at St Mary’s Cathedral where we were treated to the words of Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordeleone, the archbishop of San Francisco, who was the main celebrant at the Mass.
|Mount Angel seminarians taking part in the Walk for Life West Coast.|
Following Mass the bus took us to the rally point at the beginning of the Walk. The joy and lifted spirits of the walkers was plain to see. People all around were singing, praying and enjoying getting to know their fellow marchers and all who were gathered there in United Nations Plaza. The walk was well-organized and joyful, with different people from all over the country sharing their stories. There was the sound of singing and praying from some of the participants and there was emphatic encouragement from a number of the rally speakers as well.
We began walking from the rally point at about 1:30 in the afternoon down Market St., a living witness to the belief that all life is sacred. The walkers proceeded down the street singing, praying and declaring “We are Pro-Life." Many of the walkers were carrying signs with their places of origin on them or that declared them to be of the “Pro-Life Generation” to all those in the city. We would find out later from those from the Walk for Life blog team on their website that the number of walkers in San Francisco this day was at least 50,000.
After completing the walk to Embarcadero Blvd, the Mount Angel seminarians returned to the parked buses by 4:00 p.m. and made their way back to St Patrick’s Seminary for dinner and recreation.
As we headed back on the bus to Mount Angel the next day, a number of seminarians shared their thoughts about the experience. One of the seminarians, Tyler Johnson from the Archdiocese of Seattle, said that “a lot of people who walked by us during the time we were walking said thank you for being beacons of hope.” He said, ”A lot of people see us as the future of the Church.”
The struggle to bring the awareness that all life is precious and a gift from God will not go away after we have returned to Mount Angel. Frank Villanueva, seminarian from Diocese of Honolulu said, "We have to continue to reach out to people with love.”
Editor's Note: The reporter for this story was also a participant in the Walk for Life