In COVID era, San Diego Walk for Life retooled as ‘hybrid’ event


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SAN DIEGO — Even during a global pandemic, life goes on … and so does the San Diego Walk for Life.

“Not doing it was never an option,” said Maria Valencia, who serves as associate director of the diocesan Office for Life, Peace and Justice, with a focus on the culture of life.

The San Diego Walk for Life is an annual celebration of the sanctity of all human life and is held every January, near the anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision that declared abortion to be a constitutional right.

Now in its ninth year, the San Diego Walk for Life has been thoroughly reimagined in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and related restrictions on large public gatherings.

Instead of a single massive rally held on one January morning and attended by about 5,000 people, this year’s Walk for Life will be a weeklong “hybrid” event featuring a combination of online and in-person activities from Jan. 11-16. The theme will be “Never Alone: Meeting Their Needs at Every Turn.”

“Our intention is to offer support and accompany mothers and babies because both lives matter,” Valencia explained.

Many of the familiar elements of the annual Walk for Life will be replaced by more COVID-friendly alternatives.

For example, the centerpiece of the annual event has traditionally been a half-mile loop in Balboa Park that participants walk while holding pro-life signs and praying for the protection of human life at all stages.

This year, the walk portion will be replaced by caravans of cars decorated with eye-catching pro-life messages. Drivers and their passengers will pray for life as they drive in procession on Jan. 16. The largest of the caravans will traverse downtown San Diego, while smaller ones will be held in other regions of the county.

In place of the morning line-up of dynamic pro-life speakers and on-stage musical entertainment that has been a staple of previous years’ events, this year’s Walk for Life will offer one-hour virtual events on the evenings of Jan. 11-15. These will include four webinars, each on a different pro-life topic, and a virtual concert featuring San Diego-based singer and worship leader Ryan Ellis.

On Jan. 16, prior to the caravans, both Bishop Robert W. McElroy and Auxiliary Bishop John P. Dolan will be celebrating out-door Masses at 10 a.m. Both can be attended in person or via livestream. Because the San Diego Walk for Life is an ecumenical event, there will also be non-Catholic Christian prayer services held at the same time.

For more information about the San Diego Walk for Life, visit, email or call (858) 490-8221. More details and registration for the various in-person events will be available soon on the website.

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