“Defend Life,” “Women Do Regret Abortion,” “Men Regret Lost Fatherhood” and, simply, “Life” — those were the signs that greeted travelers March 15 along Ventura Boulevard in Encino.
On this warm and sunny Saturday morning in Encino, more than 1,000 people of all ages and ethnicities marched along both sides of the San Fernando Valley’s busiest street, carrying signs proudly proclaiming their pro-life faith as they waved enthusiastically to those driving past.
Many passers-by honked their horns and waved back to express their support for the 11th annual Los Angeles March for Life, which began with an opening ceremony at St. Cyril of Jerusalem Church in Encino. Presented by the Knights of Columbus, Van Nuys Council 3148, the event brought together Catholics from numerous parishes across the archdiocese.
Carmen Frausto, from Mary Immaculate Church in Pacoima, has participated in the March for Life for three consecutive years. She described the event as an opportunity to share her “overwhelming love for life, and my passion for Christ and for everything that God has given us” with like-minded people.
“I bring people from my parish so they can see and feel the love too,” said Frausto, who attended with 20 fellow parishioners, including her son. “I believe life truly begins at conception and I want to share that message with everyone.”
For Edgar Frausto, a member of Mary Immaculate’s young adult group, the annual gathering is a response to “the media, the news and basically the culture surrounding our society today, [which] is, as John Paul II said, one of death, one of relativism in which the value of the human person is taken for granted.
“Life at any stage, from conception all the way up to old age, is worthy of respect,” he said. “As Catholics, as good citizens, we must be that voice for the voiceless. Through this peaceful march we can let other people know that we’re here, that we’re in favor of life and that they should be as well.”
Participants in the two-mile walk were asked to donate $5 each; all proceeds will benefit the Mission Hills Pregnancy Counseling Center and other pro-life organizations and activities. In past years, at least $5,000 has been raised during each March for Life.
According to John Riordan, past grand knight for the Knights of Columbus and co-founder of the March for Life, over the past decade the event has grown from 100 marchers the first year to over 1,000 in 2014. He hopes its success eventually leads to a “larger and greater March for Life sponsored by the archdiocese of L.A.”
“It’s a great event. As we walk along the sidewalks, the people who are driving by get a chance to see what we’re doing, and we estimate that at least 3,000 cars drive by as we’re walking,” said Riordan. “It’s a great day for pro-lifers. We walk for the ones we’ve lost, and we walk for the ones we’ve saved — we walk for life.”
First-time marcher Hannah Lemos, 17, was inspired to participate following her positive experience at Youth Day at the Religious Education Congress in Anaheim on March 13, which “really encouraged me to be more active in my faith.”
“It’s so hard for teens these days to really want to show how strong their faith is,” said Lemos, a youth group member at St. Rose of Lima Church in Simi Valley. “Being [at this march] with so many Catholics at once really gives you strength and makes you realize, ‘I’m not the only one who is fighting for this cause.’”
For more information about life issues, contact kathleen-domingo of the Office of Life, Justice, and Peace by calling (213) 637-7236 or via e-mail at [email protected].