SAN DIEGO — For the eighth consecutive year, the pro-life community of San Diego laced up its walking shoes to witness to the sanctity and dignity of each human life.
About 5,000 people of various ages, cultures and even faith traditions took part in the annual San Diego Walk for Life, which was held Jan. 18 in Balboa Park, near the corner of Sixth Avenue and Laurel Street.
This year’s theme was “Live, Serve & Embrace Life.” During the event, participants heard from several speakers, including San Diego Bishop Robert W. McElroy; Pastor Mike Van Meter of Foothills Christian Church in El Cajon; a young mother who placed her daughter for open adoption; and a former abortion nurse who became a pro-life advocate.
The walk itself, which commenced immediately after Bishop McElroy’s address, consisted of a half-mile loop that began and ended along the sidewalk of Sixth Avenue. Participants prayed the rosary and held signs bearing pro-life messages.
Both before and after the walk, attendees enjoyed live musical entertainment and had the opportunity to visit about 50 exhibitor booths, representing a variety of pro-life, pro-family and religious organizations, such as 40 Days for Life, Birthline of San Diego, Culture of Life Family Services, John Paul the Great Catholic University and even The Southern Cross.
Auxiliary Bishop John P. Dolan was also in attendance and delivered the opening prayer.
In his remarks, Pastor Van Meter reflected on how several Biblical passages make it clear that God has a special concern for orphans and that all of us are called to reach out to them. He noted that this is “not optional. … Defending orphans is a Gospel imperative. It is something that God has commanded us to do.”
Defining an orphan as “a child whose family is broken and whose parents cannot or will not take care of them,” he said that “so many unborn children in our country … fall into this category.” He stressed the need to view abortion not as “just a political issue,” but as “a holocaust” to which we must respond.
“I want to challenge you,” Van Meter said, as he drew his talk to a close. “God’s given you a life. He’s given you a mind. He’s given you a voice. He’s given you strength. He expects you to use it to defend the fatherless, to advocate for justice, to stand up for the unborn.”
“Don’t be a spectator,” he said. “God has called you to use what He has given you. He’s going to hold you accountable to what He’s given you to fight for life. Let’s do that together, amen?”
Bishop McElroy was the last speaker to take the stage before the walk portion of the event, during which he participated near the very front of the procession.
“Those who say life in the womb is not human life are testifying to a lie,” Bishop McElroy declared, “and we are here because we want to be witnesses testifying to the truth of God’s grace in the womb and from conception until natural death.”
Noting that this was his fifth year attending the San Diego Walk for Life since arriving in San Diego in 2015, Bishop McElroy spoke approvingly of how the attendance numbers have grown over the years, of the joy and enthusiasm of the event’s participants, and especially of the participation of many young people.
“This is not a somber moment,” he told the crowd. “This is a moment of joy and hope that looks to the future and that is confident that we are here with a call and a mission from God.”