Prayer essential in battle for life

By Mary Powers

On a beautiful Friday evening in January, while the city of San Francisco was abuzz with weekends beginning, groups of young Catholics and Walk for Life pilgrims joyfully headed to North Beach to pray.

Inside a dimly lit Saints Peter and Paul Church, the pews were filled with faithful, most of them young people, for all-night Adoration for Life.  

Adoration at Sts. Peter and Paul Catholic Church.

Across the city at St. Dominic’s Catholic Church, attendees of the Walk for Life Vigil were also spending their evening adoring the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, preparing for Saturday’s events on the Jan. 22nd 49th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision.

While the Walk for Life is the public witness through the streets of San Francisco, the prayer surrounding the Walk is just as critical to the event. The Vigil Mass and Eucharistic Adoration in churches across the city provide an opportunity for an encounter with Love and Mercy Himself, in order for adorers to then be the face of Christ to others.

The Walk for Life day itself began, as always, with the Walk for Life Mass celebrated by San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone at the Cathedral of St. Mary of the Assumption.

Brother Nikolas Simon, a Chaldean Catholic monk from the Sons of the Covenant Monastery, traveled by bus with his parish and local high school students from El Cajon in San Diego County for the Walk and they were gathered in quiet prayer at the North Beach church. Speaking on the importance of prayer and adoration, Brother Nikolas said, “We can’t have a proper active life without a proper contemplative life. And with the most Holy Eucharist being exposed and having that intimate heart to heart friendship with Jesus Christ, who is Our Savior, we can be a radiating Christ for other people…in reality we are fighting for the change and conversion of hearts. And that requires a lot of grace and for people to encounter Christ…if we can be that radiating Christ for them, that encounter of healing, I think that can transform lives.”

“Never underestimate the power of prayer.”

Kathy Folan, birthmother, Walk for Life board member

Earlier in the evening, Oakland Bishop Michael Barber, SJ, celebrated the Walk for Life Vigil Mass at St. Dominic’s Church in San Francisco. His message: “Speak the truth in love;” sharing his hope that we will “build a culture of compassion.” He also spoke on the possibility of the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision being overturned in the current U.S. Supreme Court case Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health stating that if Roe was overturned that, “…our response will be love, mercy and kindness.”

Bishop Michael Barber, SJ celebrates the Vigil Mass for the Walk for Life.

While overturning Roe seems impossible to many, through the power of prayer, nothing is impossible.

Daisy Crae, an expectant mother, attended the vigil at St. Dominic’s. Being in her third trimester she decided to attend the vigil and adoration instead of the Walk, joining the community in prayer. “Prayer is a powerful, essential part of the pro-life movement and an agent of change to bring truth, hope, compassion, and love,” she said.

Kathy Folan, St. Dominic’s parishioner, birthmother and Walk for Life board member further noted to “never underestimate the power of prayer. St. Dominic founded an order of nuns before he founded the Order of Preachers. He knew no mission or new order would succeed without the powerful prayerful intercession of a group of religious women. The Battle at Lepanto was won against all odds by the devout recitation of the Rosary and Our Lady interceded…God can change hearts, and we can change hearts with His help and through our prayers and witness.”

Adoration at St. Dominic’s Catholic Church in San Francisco following the Vigil Mass for the Walk for Life.

Franciscan Missionary of the Eternal Word, Father Mark Mary, host of Life on the Rock on EWTN, who was praying at Saints Peter and Paul, noted that, “Ultimately this is a spiritual battle. I think the praying Church is just hard to quantify. It gets overlooked…The faith gets us out here and it makes it matter to us. It fosters charity in us to care what’s going on. This is really the greatest loss of human life going on in the world. [Abortion] is the leading cause of death. And faith makes us care about it. It makes it an issue. Otherwise we just stay in our comfort zone and don’t come out.”

Mary Powers is Assistant Director of Communications and Media Relations, Archdiocese of San Francisco

The new ‘pro-life generation’ at the Walk for Life West Coast Mass at St. Mary’s Cathedral before the Walk on Jan. 22. (Photo by Dennis Callahan/Archdiocese of San Francisco)