Last Friday seminarians from all over the west met at St. Patrick's before the Walk for Life which took place yesterday. When I was introducing myself to our guests, one of them asked me, "Are you the Kevin from the Sacramento blog?" It's good to know we have a regular readership! Then he said, "It's pretty much just you and Colin, isn't it?" I hope my diocesan brothers take the hint ;)
Our day began with Mass at San Francisco's Cathedral of St. Mary of the Assumption. Archbishop Niederauer concelebrated with many of California's bishops, including our own Bishop Jaime Soto who processed in alongside Bishop Salvatore Cordileone of Oakland. What I remember most vividly from the Mass was Archbishop Niederauer opening his homily with, "I will be a priest for forty eight years this April. This is only the second time I've heard the wrong Gospel for the day." He has a dry sense of humor like that, heh. But he gave a powerful homily afterward. He didn't name names but we all knew whom he meant when the Archbishop said that many members of the Catholic family do not accept Mother Church's teachings on abortion. But, he said, the sanctity of human life is not something on which good Catholics can disagree. All of us are morally obligated to oppose the evil of abortion no matter our state in life. He said it deeply gratified and humbled him to see so many of the lay faithful from all over the west to walk for life in a city that is hostile to our teachings on human life and the family, to put it mildly.
We gathered in Justin Herman Plaza near Fisherman's Wharf to hear the guest speakers. One of them was Abby Johnson, a former Planned Parenthood employee, who through God's grace came to see the evil of abortion, repented, and is now a dedicated pro-life activist. I was deeply moved to see so many thousands of people come out despite the pouring rain. The thing you have to understand about the Walk for Life West Coast is the local media doesn't care for us. Last year a local columnist described it as a "dog and pony show." At 30,000 people last year, that's some show! I don't know how many people came this year. It was difficult to get an accurate count in that sea of umbrellas, but a good rule of thumb is to add at least ten thousand to whatever number the local media reports, and to divide by two whatever number of counter-protesters they name. From my point of view, the opposition definitely declined from what it was last year.
Almost all of St. Patrick's seminarians made it out there in addition to men from Mt. Angel (including our own Raj Derivera, Josh Sia, and Patrick Arquelles), St. John's in Camarillo, and St. John Vianney in Denver. We all quickly became separated in the ocean of people. What I like best about the Walk is getting to meet lay people from all over the Western United States. Coincidentally, I met a woman from St. Stephen the First Martyr parish in Sacramento, where my ex-girlfriend is getting married in April. I didn't run into anyone from my home parish this year, but from what I've seen on Facebook, they were there!
Abortion is the greatest of the many evils which plague the world today. We must fight it by every moral means at our disposal. I think it's vitally important for seminarians and clergy to be present with our people in this struggle. They're the ones who are taking time off from their lives to witness to a culture of life in a city which is in many ways an epicenter of the culture of death. The least we seminarians, and the priests, can do is to be there with them. The theology level seminarians, and the pre-theologians, all wore their collars. That way the laity know that the next generation of priests support them in their endeavor with our presence, and with our prayers.
I'm a poor seminarian myself, so I do hope one of my diocesan brothers - or maybe one of you kind readers - will submit some more pictures to post.