Standing with the Truth
Knights join the 2018 Walk for Life West Coast
On January 27, one week after the March for Life in Washington, D.C., the Walk for Life West Coast changed the hearts and minds of those attending. The ten-block walk through the main streets of San Francisco, is the second largest pro-life event in the United States, drawing an estimated 60,000 people.
In the hilly city known for its beautiful Golden Gate Bridge, Victorian houses and technology, San Francisco made history as a progressive leader in the pro-life movement in 2005 when the Walk for Life West Coast began. It showed that in the face of adversity, with severe protests from pro-abortion activists that attacked the peaceful Walk for Life participants, a strong voice and message of hope could still be heard.
“On the positive side, I’ve heard reports of people walking along and protesters coming up and saying, ‘Ya know I’ve been protesting you guys for a few years. I really like what you’re doing. Can I join your walk?’ They’re looking at us thinking there’s something good that these people are doing. You can see that they’re changing their mind,” said K of C member Steve Hagarty, from Concord, Calif., and St. Francis of Assisi Council 13179, who is in charge of security for the walk.
A former Marine and past grand knight, Hagarty currently serves with his wife as pro-life chair couple at their parish. He feels that information, education, forgiveness and redemption are the keys to winning the pro-life battle. He does not see members of the pro-life movement as political activists or people who stop a woman’s choice, but rather that they are trying to show them that there are other options.
He added that when pregnant women come to the ultrasound truck that the Knights sponsor and they get more education, looking at a sonogram of a baby at the three month stage of pregnancy they say, “So that’s what it looks like at three months? They told me it was just a blob. They didn’t tell me it looked like that. I never would have had an abortion. That’s a baby.”
James Scroggin, California state supreme director, and a member of Fresno Council 4440, has been participating in the walk for 12 of the 14 years that the Walk for Life West Coast has been in existence.
“We have hecklers for about two or three blocks on either side. It used to be worse when the walk was longer. And they’re very rude. And these kids are leading this walk, and they’re drowning out this rudeness and megaphones by singing, by praying the rosary. They’re shouting, ‘We are the pro-life generation.’ For me, I’m extremely grateful to be able to participate alongside of them in this pro-life event,” said Scroggin.
The message has evolved over the years, with core messages of Abortion Hurts Women and Women Deserve Better, to its present message of A New Tradition, A New Voice.
For leaders and participants who have been actively involved in the walk and the pro-life movement for many years, they are looking for a refreshing new voice, a new energy and a next generation in today’s youth to be leaders and participants, and believe they are the fastest growing demographic of the walk.
One student from St. Thomas Aquinas College in Santa Paula, Calif., who was walking with many other youth and college students at the front of the walk holding the sign saying ‘Abortion Hurts Women’ felt the message was about goodness, truth and beauty, and that young people are so important in this movement, to put in a new, fresh language that the culture can hear.
“We stand with the truth here, so you can’t be afraid to just really stick with the truth and be proud of it and just say what you need to say,” she said. “It’s so good to see so many young people and college students out here standing with me, and we all believe the same thing.”
The day’s events began with a 9:30 a.m. Mass at the Cathedral of St. Mary of the Assumption, at which Archbishop of San Francisco Salvatore J. Cordileone was the main celebrant, along with California state council officers and members participating as readers and Knights of Columbus Color Guard. Participants will then proceed onto the Civic Center Plaza for the Silent No More Awareness Campaign, Rally with inspirational speakers giving their testimony at 12:30 p.m., and the walk beginning at 1:30 p.m.
Co-Chair and Co-Founder of Walk for Life West Coast, Eva Muntean, speaking at the Rally in front of the San Francisco Town Hall, praised the participants gathered.
“You are an influx of hope for women who have been hurt by abortion, for people who see no meaning, for those who lack hope. Where there’s life, there’s hope and the Walk for Life is also the Walk of Hope, hope for a better tomorrow and hope for a culture which so badly needs it,” said Muntean.
During its 14 year history, the Walk for Life West Coast has been very heavily involved with and assisted by the Knights of Columbus. For leaders, organizers and participants, without the Knights of Columbus, they believe, the walk would not nearly be as organized and successful. They would not be able to obtain the city permits necessary to have the walk, because there are so many walkers. The Knights are a significant part of the membership team, and provide the many walkers, priests and bishops who attend the walk with transportation and assistance. Other duties are providing clean-up and signs to people.
“To be able to promote pro-life in this city is very important to Catholics and non-Catholics alike, who support the movement,” said Scroggins. “It’s something we need to continue to do and it’s an important way to show that our unity and fraternity in this area, just like the 40 Days for Life and other different pro-life activities that take place throughout the year.”
Father Joseph Fessio, S.J., editor of Ignatius Press, who is the Walk for Life West Coast chaplain, said that the original intention of the founders of the event from the beginning, was that they wanted it to be a West Coast, San Francisco walk, in “the belly of the beast, as a sign that even here in San Francisco, there are those who love the Lord, love life and are going to stand up for it.”
“So it’s really a hopeful gathering and a joyful gathering of those who are defending life and trying to live a moral life and a life open to God’s gift of children. So they come together to say, ‘Hey, I’m not alone. So a lot of friendships are formed. It’s just a great encouragement for everybody,” he said.