SAN DIEGO — As part of a continuing effort to encourage young adult participation in the annual San Diego Walk for Life, two diocesan offices are joining forces.
The Office for Young Adult Ministry, in collaboration with the Office for Life, Peace and Justice, will host a Young Adult Holy Hour and Vigil Mass for Life. Auxiliary Bishop Ramón Bejarano will preside.
The event, which is open to Catholics ages 18 to 39, will be held on Friday evening, Jan. 14, at Sacred Heart Parish in Coronado.
The 10th annual San Diego Walk for Life will take place the next day, from 8:30 a.m. to noon, at downtown San Diego’s Waterfront Park. The pro-life walk is held every January near the anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision, which created a right to abortion almost 49 years ago.
“The whole idea is for us to gather and pray in vigil for life, and then, the next day, to put our prayer and our faith into action,” explained Pamela Poe, associate director of the Young Adult Ministry Office.
The Young Adult Holy Hour and Vigil Mass for Life will begin at 6 p.m. with 60 minutes of Eucharistic adoration, accompanied by praise-and-worship music as well as periods of prayerful silence. Confessions will be available throughout the holy hour.
Bishop Bejarano will celebrate Mass at 7 p.m.
Maria Valencia, associate director for culture of life in the Office for Life, Peace, and Justice, said the Mass will be an educational event as well as a spiritual one. Through Bishop Bejarano’s homily, she said, young adults will learn more about why human life has such value and why it is essential to stand up for the unborn.
Light refreshments will follow the Mass.
“We’re young adults and we love to socialize, so we wanted to offer that opportunity,” said Poe, who promised Valencia that the social wouldn’t run too late, so that the young adults will be able to wake up early enough to attend the next day’s Walk for Life. It will conclude at 9:30 p.m.
The upcoming holy hour and vigil Mass is not the first event of its kind.
A diocesan Young Adult Mass, preceded by a holy hour, is celebrated every August. Held at The Immaculata Church on the campus of the University of San Diego, the event typically attracts 500 to 600 young adults from throughout the diocese.
The number of holy hours organized by the Young Adult Ministry Office has increased since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Poe said.
“I’ve been just so impressed with … how the young people in San Diego just love the Eucharist,” she said.
“The opportunity to be in His presence and in the presence of other young people worshipping Him is powerful,” she said.
This also isn’t the first time that the organizers of the San Diego Walk for Life have made an effort to reach out to young adults.
Last year, the Walk for Life was recast in response to the pandemic. Bishop Bejarano celebrated an outdoor Mass at St. Vincent de Paul Parish for young adults before a car caravan.
In 2020, the event’s organizers featured young adults prominently in the line-up of speakers and entertainers. Cathedral Catholic High School students also were positioned at the front of thousands of walkers, immediately followed by other teenagers and young adults.
Valencia said she hopes that the upcoming holy hour and vigil Mass will not only increase the number of young adults attending the San Diego Walk for Life, but that they will receive the spiritual strength to bear witness to the sanctity of life in other venues.
“It’s easy to be a witness there (at the Walk for Life), when everybody shares their values, and their beliefs, and their passion, but it’s hard when you have to be a witness around your friends that are not Catholic (or) around your friends that are pro-choice,” Valencia explained.
To her fellow young adults, Poe makes this appeal: “Let’s pray together and let’s be witnesses to the world. … As young people, we can come together and witness to the beauty of life.”
Contact the Office for Young Adult Ministry at firstname.lastname@example.org or (858) 490-8263.