SAN FRANCISCO — 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 10 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,” said Eva Muntean, a co-founder of Walk for Life West Coast.
She added, “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 it will be preceded by a Mass said by San Francisco 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 make it easy for more families and young people to participate, 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 (SFLA).
Variety of Participants
SFLA 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.
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 argues 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 people 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.
“The majority of people who come are Catholic,” she said, “but we’re finding more and more people who tell us they are not.” The invocation at the walk this year will be given by an Anglican bishop, and “we invite everyone to join us,” she added.
“It’s our 10th anniversary, and that’s huge for us,” Muntean explained. “’We’re working hard to make it a special event.”
The walk committee 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,” she said, adding, “We wanted to reach out to the city.”
“They’re [the banners] 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 allowed 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 said 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.”
Pro-Life Labor of Love
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,” she said. Muntean added that the volunteers have virtually “two full-time jobs for several months out of the year to make the Walk for Life happen.”
She said, “If there was ever a good definition of ‘labor of love,’ it’s the Walk for Life.”