Sunday, January 22, 2006

Walk for Life San Francisco 2006--The Carmelite Connection

One of our Santa Clara lay Carmelites, Jim Fahey, is in the second row, tall, with sunglasses, to the left of the burgundy St. Thomas Aquinas banner

The March for Life in San Francisco was thrilling yesterday. The march started at the Ferry Building on the Embarcadero around noon with the skies drizzly and overcast. It ended about two hours later at the Marina Green. Close to the end we crested the top of the wooded hill between Fisherman's Wharf and Fort Mason to be greeted by a beautiful a view framed by trees of the Golden Gate Bridge, the Bay, and the Marina in brilliant sunshine before us.

Some reported that there were about 15,000 of us, more than double the size of last year's march, and I heard that there were far fewer protesters than last year.

After enduring the pro-abortion hecklers that did show up along the way, especially during a long pause at the beginning of the march when they were in our faces with their bullhorns, signs and insulting chants for 15 minutes, several marchers told me they were reminded of Christ's experience on Via Dolorosa.

Some of the chants follow (my retorts are in parentheses, but we weren't supposed to answer back, so I *mostly* kept my mouth shut):

Get your rosaries out of our ovaries. (We're trying to reach your hearts and souls with our prayers to the Mother of God, not your ovaries.)

If you don't like abortions, don't have one.
(Who actually has a soul so dead as to like abortion?)
If you don't like contraception, don't use it.
If you don't like sex, don't have it.
(If you don't want children, don't misuse the gift of God.)

Christian fascists, get out of town.
(I really have to bite my tongue on this one, since I can think of some names to retort with that would not be charitable.)
When abortion is illegal, women die.
(When abortion is legal, babies, women, men, families
and communities are casualties.)

One sign I saw a lot of called us, "Christian terrorists."

A lot of the pro-abortion protesters dressed in black, looking like Ninja warriors. Some that wore bandanas over their noses and mouths looked like mutant ninja bandits.

Many of them carried coat hangers.

It was odd how many posters were against Bush and Alioto. What did they think? We were going to bring Bush down if they only convinced us to?

A line of police walked between us and the protesters in close formation. There were hundreds of police on motorcycles too. Regina, who I drove up with, wonders why we are the ones who needed to be protected if we're as bad as the pro-aborts think we are. I later read that a pro-abortion news feed claims that some protesters tried to stop the march until the police removed them.

The marchers did not heckle back to the hecklers. Some of us said the rosary or sang quietly. Those who had signs held them up silently. Most of the pro Life signs were simple black and white and they read, "Women deserve better than abortion."

Two teenagers carried a hand painted sign: "We're survivors." I asked them what that meant, and they said, "One third of our generation was aborted!" How true and what a horrid thing to realize.

Many others carried signs that read "I regret my abortion."

I drove up from Santa Clara with two other lay Carmelites (OCDS) who meet at the monastery of the Infant Jesus, Dave and Regina Dittmann and Art (a regular from Our Lady of Peace shrine). We parked at the end of the march route, and we had a disquieting couple of minutes because we joined the march from the front. Suddenly we realized we'd inadvertently started walking with the pro-abortionists on the sidewalk. We quickly ran to join our own side marching down the middle of the Embarcadero, practically colliding with Jim Fahey [who was on the Israel pilgrimage] and who is also an OCDS, who was close to the front of the line. He's 6' 4" tall so he's hard to miss. He was busy with the Bishop's honor guard (that's what I think he said).

I shot a couple of rolls of film. Whenever I stopped to take photos, people crashed into me, so I can't guarantee the photos are going to be in focus.

I started in the parking lot of Our Lady of Peace in San Jose taking photos of our eighty-two year old Santa Clara OCDS member Jean Foord getting ready to board the bus to the abortion walk. She was standing in front of her pro-Life bumper sticker bedecked older model car (an exemplary Carmelite car), holding the sign she brings to all such events. She joins a group praying in front of a Sunnyvale abortion clinic once a month. I also have another photo of Regina and Dave (with Art) similarly in front of the Dittmann's pro-life bumper sticker bedecked 1986 Buick (another exemplary Carmelite car) getting ready to drive up to the march.

Other shots are from right in the middle of the marchers, and some of the San Francisco backdrops and photos of the pro abortion protesters should be good. I will be posting those photos online in about a week. Some of them might be used in a San Francisco Faith newspaper article in March.

(I queried the editor about my writing a piece on the march, but he already had it covered. But he wants to use my planned interview with Jewish convert Roy Schoeman [which he pronounces "Show Man" BTW], so stay tuned for that. The interview won't be in until April, since we can't do the interview by the 30th deadline because Roy has that Florida conference.)

Near the end of the Saturday march, Dave, Regina, Art, and I paused and watched the remaining marchers file past us. We had a brief Carmelite reunion when we ran into Anita Sullins (another OCDS) for a few minutes and then found Father Christopher, our spiritual advisor, Erin (OCDS formation director ) and his mother, Jean Foord. Father had just prayed with and helped a woman who had had a seizure a few minutes earlier.

After they left, for about a half hour from our vantage point near the Marina Green we watched marcher after marcher continue to file down from the top of the hill that separates Fisherman's Wharf from Fort Mason. The numbers were very impressive.

I was startled to see a heavy man towards the end of the line wearing a sign "Gay and Lesbians Against Abortion." Another Carmelite, Marilou Mills, wrote me yesterday to tell me that she teaches with that man who bravely carried that sign. His name is Steve, and he told her he was heckled unmercifully. I'm afraid the heckling was from both sides. I'm sorry that I avoided eye contact with him, and I told her that I think he is a very brave man to stand up against the evil of abortion. I admire his courage.

82 year old Jean Foord might have been among the oldest at the walk. A friend of Regina and Dave's who was there with her husband and four other children is about five months pregnant, so she might have been carrying the youngest, not yet born. (Not a choice either, a child, it must be noted, especially in the context of this day.)
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