By Roman Flores
EL CENTRO – Lines of cars, trucks and SUVs rolled through El Centro to promote life and combat the culture of death on March 7, as the midpoint event for the Imperial Valley “40 Days for Life” campaign.
Coordinators held the event to promote life, help women in crisis pregnancies and “respect life from the moment of conception to the moment of natural death,” even during the pandemic, coordinators said.
The event was held “to help women who are in crisis pregnancy to choose life and to know that there are a lot of resources here in the Valley to help them along,” said Imperial Valley Culture of Life coordinator Myriam Fletes.
“We just hope that people will be able to become more aware of life in all of its stages and they will be willing to pray whenever they can that people will be open to life,” said Ann Magin, the caravan co-coordinator.
The coordinators were not able to hold the annual Walk for Life in January nor the “Dance for the Love of Life” in February due to the coronavirus. They said the idea for the car caravan came from San Diego, where the annual Walk for Life was replaced with a COVID-friendly caravan of cars.
“This is a good way to express our faith because we’re praying for that conviction to respect life, especially the women planning to get an abortion: That they realize that they’re called to something bigger,” said Father David Sereno, pastor of Sacred Heart Mission Church in Heber and a hospital chaplain.
Auxiliary Bishop Ramón Bejarano participated in the event, offering words of encouragement, quoting Pope St. John Paul II’s encyclical “Evangelium Vitae.”
“The gift of life is not only for one religious group, you know, it’s a gift for every human being and we need to give witness to that,” the bishop told The Southern Cross, “and of course that testimony needs to be a testimony of holiness.”
“I do believe that is the only way we can help convert hearts, through holiness,” he said, “and as we speak the truth of life and we speak with holiness, I know that other people are going to be able to listen.”
Bishop Bejarano and event coordinators said Catholics can help support the pro-life cause through prayer, participating in events in-person or online, safely reaching out to people during the pandemic, and continuing to practice their faith regularly to become witnesses to life through the example of their holy lives.
Bishop Bejarano and a small group of young adults gathered for prayer in a pop-up tent near the Planned Parenthood office.
The car caravan started at the old Lucky’s grocery store parking lot on Wake Avenue, traveled to 8th Street, then to Adams, past the clinic on Fourth Street, and made a second pass by the clinic before ending at El Centro’s largest public park, Bucklin Park.
At the park, the activists distributed giveaways to caravan participants, assisted by Knights of Columbus Cristo Rey Council of El Centro Catholic.
For prayers, information about upcoming events and to purchase raffle tickets, visit Imperial Valley 40 Days for Life’s Facebook page or call (760) 791-6536. Raffle tickets will be on sale until March 28.