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February 9, 2015   •   VOL. 53, NO. 3   •   Oakland, CA
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A contingent from St. Joachim Parish in Hayward was one of many representing the Oakland diocese.
josÉ luis aguirre/Special to The Catholic Voice

50,000 fill SF streets in Walk for Life

Tens of thousands of people walked down Market Street in San Francisco, chanting, "We are the pro-life generation" in the 11th annual Walk for Life West Coast, the largest pro-life demonstration in the Western United States.

Catholic evangelist Richard Lane and Bishop Michael C. Barber, SJ.

Knights of Columbus from San Ramon's St. Joan of Arc Parish joined the march.

Second only in size to the March for Life in Washington, D.C., the Jan. 24 pro-life rally at Civic Center and 1.8-mile walk down Market Street to Justin Herman Plaza drew more than 50,000 people and slowed traffic throughout the downtown area for several hours, meriting traffic alerts on local radio stations.

"There is a war on women but we are not declaring war, we have come to set women free!" declared Walk for Life rally speaker Joy Pinto.

"The civil rights movement of this present age is the pro-life movement and we are nearing our victory and we cannot compromise," declared walk speaker Rev. Clenard Childress Jr., founder of Blackgenocide.org and a Baptist minister in Montclair, New Jersey.

The walk is held on the Saturday closest to the anniversary of the Jan. 22, 1973, Roe v. Wade U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion.

Many began the day at St. Mary's Cathedral for the 9:30 a.m. Walk for Life Mass where San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone told the standing room only crowd of nearly 5,000, "Our goal is not a legal one nor is it a political one. Our goal is a spiritual one: to build a culture of life."

The Diocese of Oakland was well represented among the marchers.

Almost a dozen Capuchin Franciscan friars from St. Conrad Priory in Berkeley boarded a BART train for the trip to San Francisco.

In their simple brown habits belted with rope, and rosary beads at their waists, the friars stand out in a crowd. Their presence at the walk, said the superior, Brother Peter, is to say, "We support life."

At Civic Center Plaza, about 200 people from the Vietnamese Catholic Community stood near the main stage. Through its ministries to young people, Sister Rosaline Nguyen, LHC, director of the Vietnamese Pastoral Center, said, "young people are aware of life."

Related Story
Oakland long a leader
in pro-life movement
Bishop Michael C. Barber, SJ, said the presence of Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, the papal nuncio, at the Mass earlier in the day at St. Mary Cathedral was "very encouraging to the bishops and everyone there."

"Having Archbishop Viganò to support us means the whole church is responding," he said.

As the march made its way down Market Street, Daezaun Tucker, 18, from St. Joseph Basilica Parish in Alameda carried a handmade sign likening abortion to slavery.

Abortion, said Anna Nguyen, a Diablo Valley College student who was with the group, "is not a choice they should be able to have."

Near Fifth and Market streets, a trio of megaphone- and sign-carrying abortion rights protesters began to shout near a group from St. Edward Parish in Newark reciting the rosary in Spanish. The rosary continued uninterrupted.

At the Powell Street BART station, Benie Ebias reluctantly stepped off the march — which had left her with "a nice feeling" — and headed home. She needed to make the 5 p.m. Mass at Our Lady Queen of the World Parish in Bay Point, where she was scheduled to serve as an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion.

"My young people, you are the pro-life generation," Archbishop Cordileone said, noting that once again a majority of those present were young, adding "Let us be clear. Our ideology is pro-life and pro-woman. The two go together."

"We come because we want to end abortion and we think abortion is a tragedy that affects everyone," said Margaret Koehler, a mechanical engineering major, who spoke for the 20 Stanford Pro-Life students at Civic Center. "And we think by demonstrating today we can help to open people's hearts and minds to stop abortion."

In addition to Childress and Pinto, speakers included Julia Holcomb, who told the story of her abortion during a relationship as a teenager with Aerosmith lead singer Steven Tyler, and Rebekah Buell who shared how a new technique allowed her to save her unborn baby even after taking the first RU486 pill. Joy Pinto and her husband Jim are hosts of EWTN shows and work with Her Choice Birmingham Women's Center in Alabama.

Among those rallying for life were 60 students from Wyoming Catholic College clad in blue shirts emblazoned with a cowboy boot and the motto "Cowboys for Life," 120 students from Thomas Aquinas College, thousands of high school students from throughout Northern California and members of numerous Bay Area and California Catholic, Orthodox, Anglican and other denominations.

Founded in 2005 by a group of Bay Area residents with the mission of changing the perception that abortion is the answer, the Walk for Life West Coast is the largest pro-life demonstration on the West Coast.

Michele Jurich contributed to this report

Oakland long a leader in pro-life movement

Rev. Walter Hoye talks with Oakland police after a group of about 25 abortion-rights demonstrators, who had been rallying in a nearby park, invaded the annual Standing Up 4 Life rally of about 200 in front of Oakland City Hall on Jan. 23. Hoye canceled the short walk through the streets of Oakland, which usually ends the event, because he could not guarantee the safety of the children who were attending the rally with their parents. "All lives matter," Rev. Hoye said.

More than a dozen nationally recognized leaders in the pro-life movement came to Oakland on Jan. 23 for the annual Conversations4Life Dinner. The event was a benefit for Rev. Walter Hoye's Issues4Life Foundation and for the Gabriel Project at St. Margaret Mary Parish, which hosted the sold-out dinner.

The response to Rev. Hoye's invitation to speak in Oakland is an example of Oakland's importance in the pro-life struggle, as well as the opportunity for Catholic groups to show their support for Hoye and his mission to highlight the impact of abortion on minority communities.

Father Frank Pavone, founder of the national organization Priests for Life, said his group's association with the Diocese of Oakland dated back to Monica Rodman's tenure as Respect Life coordinator. She "really helped us in so many ways," Father Pavone said. Rodman, who now lives in Italy, continues to be involved in Rachel's Vineyard ministry, he said. In California, she helped bring the pro-life cause to other social justice ministries, enabling them "to combine our energies," he said.

Rev. Hoye, he said, is "an important witness to the right to protest abortion." Alveda King, niece of the late civil rights leader Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., serves in the Priests for Life ministry. Her involvement with the black community, he said, helps get across the message that "the movement for the unborn belongs as much to them as to anyone else," he said.

"Politically and culturally, the unborn need to be protected," he said.

In his prayer, which preceded the dinner, Bishop Michael C. Barber, SJ, spoke to God's heart: "Make room for all your children, especially those in the womb."

"Send mercy upon all our lawmakers, open their hearts so they will care for all our lives," he prayed. "Give power to this work; it is not of us but of You," he prayed.

Speakers who were delayed by weather — the march for life had occurred in Washington, DC, the day before — sent messages by audio and videotape.

Issues 4 Life award was presented to Christina Garza of Survivors, which trains young people to do pro-life work on high school and college campuses.

Among the speakers present was Elaine Riddick, who described herself as a "victim of eugenics." She was sterilized without her knowledge or consent when she was 14, after the birth of her son.

Catholic evangelist Richard Lane reminded the group that the pro-life movement includes "from womb to tomb." "We as pro-lifers must go into the inner-city," he said. "If we are for life, we have to realize all life matters. We can't choose which life matters."

"It's important to know your history," said Pastor Bruce Rivers, adding that had he known earlier in his life that he was an adopted child, he might have made some different choices.

Kristina Garza, campus outreach director for Survivors of the Abortion Holocaust, received the Issues4Life annual award for pro-life activism. "If we want to reach the Latino community," she said. "show them what abortion is."

Dr. Haywood Robinson said he used to perform abortions, but stopped 28 years ago. "He dropped us right into the pro-life movement," he said. He and his wife, Dr. Noreen Johnson, have turned a former Planned Parenthood Clinic in College Station, Texas, into a pro-life medical practice.

"You have been given the greatest opportunity to cross the line of color," Rev. Clenard Childress, founder of Blackgenocide.org, told the audience of more than 160. "You have black and white marching together. When in your lifetime have you seen this?"

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