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Trip to Walk for Life West Coast makes lasting impact on students

By MARY THERESA THOMAS
02/21/2020 | Comments

COLORADO SPRINGS. On Jan. 23, a group of 27 young people and adult chaperones gathered in the early morning hours at the Catholic Pastoral Center to get on a bus to Denver International Airport. Father Joe Dygert led the group in the Blessing of Pro-Life Pilgrims Before Their Journey to both encourage and remind that this was a trip with a higher purpose.

The trip to San Francisco for the Walk for Life West Coast is organized like a pilgrimage. While we have some time to see the city we are visiting, time is made for daily Mass, prayer and group discussion. This year, Father Dygert either celebrated or concelebrated Mass for our group at St. Patrick Parish, Sts. Peter and Paul Parish and at St. Mary’s Cathedral. The activities surrounding the Walk for Life take precedence over all other activities.

“I was inspired to see so many young people participating in the Walk for Life West Coast,” said Julie Bailey, Director of the Respect Life Apostolate of the Diocese of Colorado Springs. “The young people from Colorado Springs were obviously profoundly affected by both Portland Archbishop Alexander Sample’s homily at the Mass preceding the walk and by the signs and shouts of the protestors. Their reaction was deeply moving; they prayed for the protesters and their conversion of heart.”

The Walk for Life West Coast had 50,000 participants and was covered (quite favorably and fairly) by every major news affiliate in San Francisco — ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC and PBS — as well as the San Francisco Chronicle, the Associated Press and, of course, EWTN. There were several vigil Masses and adoration events. Thanks to wonderful people at Sts. Peter and Paul Parish, we were able to have a private mass for our Colorado Springs group, and after dinner we returned to the church for adoration and the beginning of the all-night Vigil for Life on the eve of the walk.

After attending Mass at St. Mary’s Cathedral on Jan. 25, our group walked to Civic Center Plaza for the Information Fair, Silent No More testimonies and to hear the speakers, including the introduction of some of the babies whose mothers had broadcast their heartbeats from the womb during last year’s walk. After being fortified by invocation and prayer from a number of religious leaders in attendance, the group moved off down Market Street to the Ferry Pier at the Embarcadero. Students and chaperones alike sang and prayed as they walked.

There was a block of counter protesters, separated from the walkers by a police cordon, and perhaps most surprising for the students was the encounter with a group of anti-Catholic “Christian” protesters and preachers. On the whole, the walk was safe, uneventful and blessed with good weather.

Plans are underway already to attend the 2021 Walk for Life West Coast on Jan. 23 in San Francisco. Next year, we plan to join the prayer service in front of the San Francisco Planned Parenthood on Jan. 22. As the late Father Bill Carmody used to say, “Kids who go to the March for Life come back on fire for life.”

Many of the youth in attendance paid a $500 fee to join the group.  Two members of our group were sponsored by the Knights of Columbus Council 10937 and Pax Christi Parish; others were on scholarship for all or part of their fees. No one is turned away for lack of funds; scholarships are always available, and the annual Bishop’s Respect Life Dinner helps subsidize this important work of education and evangelization.

If you would like to attend next year’s Walk for Life West Coast, please contact Mary Theresa Thomas at 719-866-6460 or mthomas@diocs.org.

(Mary Theresa Thomas is Director of Special Projects for the Diocese of Colorado Springs.)


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